School’s out for holiday break — which means it’s the perfect time for your child to spend some QT with the grandparents. (Hello, date night!) After all, what kid can resist a trip to Grandma’s? That said, when you have a child with type 1 diabetes, a routine overnight with relatives can be fraught with anxiety — for you, the relatives, and the child. Certified diabetes educator Marlisa Brown offers these tips on how to make sure the trip is safe and worry-free:
Educate the grandparents about your child’s type 1 diabetes. Make sure they have all the medical supplies your child will need, such as testing supplies, medications, the diabetes management plan, a list of acceptable foods, and emergency contact numbers. Teach them how to check your child’s blood glucose and review what to do in an emergency. Written instructions are a necessity so they can be referred to whenever needed.
Decide who’ll give insulin. If your child is too young to administer injections, you must assess whether or not the grandparent is comfortable doing so. If he or she lives nearby, many parents opt to just come and administer the shots themselves, which can put the grandparent at ease.
Make a plan for low blood sugar. Discuss how the grandparent can identify it, including a list of symptoms and what to do about them. Make sure they have plenty of items on hand for lows, such as fruit juice, regular soda or glucose tablets.
Go over a meal plan with the grandparents beforehand so you’ll know what your child will be eating and how much insulin he or she will need. Let grandparents know that extra desserts or sweets are not the way to “spoil” your child. Suggest healthier rewards, such as stickers, small toys, or a special activity that they could do together.
Stay in touch. Encourage the grandparents to check in at meals to ensure the right amount of insulin is being given. Frequent check-ins will give you greater peace of mind, too.
Go along if you’re not ready for them to go alone. If you do not feel comfortable leaving your kids at their grandparents’ — or the grandparents are uncomfortable with it, too — try staying over with your child or having the grandparents sleep over at your house. Give them plenty of alone time with your child so they feel like this is “their” special night.
It can be scary to let go for a first overnight trip, especially when your child has type 1 diabetes. But by working together with your relatives, this childhood rite of passage can be a happy (and healthy!) one, and something your son or daughter remembers for years to come.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.