Everybody knows that being a parent is the hardest job in the world. Mom’s and dad’s all over the world spend countless nights lying awake with crying babies, and full lifetimes making sure their children are safe and happy – whatever that may mean. However, when your child is dealing with a food allergy, a parent’s job is made that much harder. The worry and fear becomes something that other parents can’t understand. Given this, we have compiled a list of ways to help these stressed out moms and dads relax – even if only for a little bit.
Have a Plan
When having a child with food allergies, mealtime can become the most stressful time of day. Depending on how many children you have and how many food allergies your child struggles with, dinner can become a war zone. It’s hard to find foods that will be tasty for the entire family while also keeping them allergy safe. Given this, we suggest leaving nothing up to chance. Have a plan for your mealtimes and stick to it. Let the children help out when making the initial decisions, but once it has been put into the schedule, no backsies.
Have Your Coffee
Or tea, or water or juice - whatever it is you drink in the morning to help you start your day. While those precious few minutes may feel like a waste of time in the busy mornings, they can make a real difference in the rest of your day. Take those few minutes to just focus on yourself and the day ahead. If you are an early riser and can take this moment before the kids are awake – even better!
Sometimes, the best medicine is doing nothing. It’s okay to take a day of every now and again and it certainly doesn’t make you a bad parent. If anything, the opposite. Your children deserve your best and if you’re up late making lunches and up early making breakfast then there is no way you are giving that to them. It can be easy to lose yourself in your children – especially when helping them deal with life threatening food allergies – but every now and again, it is important to remember that you are your own person too.
Keep It Simple
It can be tempting to try and make that cheeseless, gluten free, mac and cheese recipe you found online, but sometimes it is just too much work. It is okay to resort to using store-bought ingredients or just boiling some hot dogs. Not every meal needs to be a production. At the end of the day, your children aren’t going to remember those hours you spent making them homemade sesame free hummus, but they will remember you sitting down to have a relaxed family meal after a long day.
All too often, parents forget that once upon a time they too liked having fun. Whether it be reading a great book, going for a quick jog or hanging out with some friends at a coffee house, we all have those little things we enjoy. Don’t let yourself get too caught up in your child’s life that you lose sight of your own. Especially when a child has food allergies, the stress and doctor’s appointments can feel unbearable. Given this, your small breaks are more important than ever.
Don’t Blame Yourself
Life can be hard for a child with food allergies. They can feel isolated socially, stressed about eating and even angry at the hand they’ve been dealt. However, it is important to remember that you are their parent, not their miracle worker. It is all too easy to blame yourself for not making them more cupcakes for birthday parties, or homemade meals for lunch time. It is even easy to find ways to blame yourself for all the pain your child may be feeling. But remember that you are already doing the best you can. Don’t pressure yourself into apologizing for something that isn’t your fault and instead focus your energies on helping your child solve their problems.
Trust Your Doctor
As a parent, it can be difficult to trust that anyone knows better than you do about your child and while those instincts are great, they can also be all consuming. When it comes to dealing with food allergies, there is no shame in trusting your doctor to guide you. Not only do you not have the medical knowledge that your doctor has, but it can be hard to harbor the weight of every decision. Trust that your doctor has your child’s best interests in mind.
Being a parent is always difficult, however when raising a child with food allergies, that difficulty only increases. The stress around mealtime and the fear surrounding every outing can be completely consuming. Remember, that to give your children your best, you need to actually be your best. Take the time to ensure that you are caring for yourself in order to be able to provide your child with the bets care.