Part 2 focuses on how we navigate our lives from social activities to traveling.
Daily life, activities
We have become quite the experts at managing food allergies, but we've been doing it for 4 years now. It's not something that we honestly ever think about in quite the same context as others do who aren't familiar with food allergies. For us, it's just normal.
Eventually, it becomes a part of your life. It's our lifestyle, and we don'r think of it as a burden. The steps we take are nearly automatic and it gets easier in time.
I make Sophie a safe treat and bring snacks for her. Our wonderful friends make sure nothing is at the party that could cause a severe food allergic reaction for Sophie. Especially given that kids play, and food proteins can spread easily. Sophie knows not to eat foods that aren't approved by us, but there are many ways for food proteins to enter the body (hand touches mouth, eyes, etc).
And it never hurts to clean your child's hands, often! I always carry a natural, non-toxic hand sanitizer.
Classes & Activities
I have chosen to homeschool Sophie, but that is something my husband and I considered even when I was pregnant. Finding out that she has food allergies and celiac disease only made the decision seem even more logical.
But when it comes to classes and other activities, we've got it covered.
Sophie has taken gymnastics, ballet and tennis. She has never been in a bubble, or exempt from activities that she has wanted to participate in.
Communicate & Make it Safe
As a parent of a food allergic child, I whole-heartedly believe that having food allergies should not exempt you from activities, classes or events. There's usualy a way to make it safe. Communication is key.
When the time came that Sophie wanted to take a concert-series ballet class, I was nervous but I knew we could make it work. She had already taken other ballet classes, and I had taken similar steps to ensure her safety.
Here are a few steps I took:
1) I communicated with the ballet teacher and the dance coordinator about Sophie's food allergies. I told them that her having food allergies should not be a reason for her to be unable to participate in a concert series class. They agreed and made sure students cleaned their hands prior to class. NO food or drink was allowed in class.
2) I arranged for myself to be in the dressing room at the concert as a helper. I watched Sophie and her group until it was their turn and then I ran to my seat in the auditorium to watch. NO food or drink was allowed in the dressing room. After her show was over, I quickly made my way back to the dressing room to find her.
3) I remembered to breathe.
We do not travel via air because it's too risky for us. But luckily there are many ways to travel. We took a road trip once and stayed at a KOA, which seemed a good option for us especially given Sophie's allergy to dust and dust mites. The KOA cabin was basically a stripped down wooden cabin and we brought everything else, such as our sheets and pillows. We've also camped in a tent at a camp ground.
And we remember to wipe down picnic tables and use a towel or table cloth because food proteins can last on surfaces for up to a week, unless cleaned thoroughly.
There are definitely safe ways to travel, and you just have to remember to BYOF: bring your own food :)
Stay tuned for Part 3!