Taking Back Date Night and Sleepovers: Help For Diabetes Caregivers

Counting carbs at every meal, figuring out how much insulin to dose and having to regularly stick my son with needles are all a huge burden, not to mention waking up every couple of hours and constantly worrying about his levels, day or night.

But while all of these things create an enormous burden for parents like me, they are as normal for me as waking up and brewing the coffee or brushing my teeth before I go to sleep. I don’t even remember what life was like before tracking Miles’ blood sugar moment by moment.

So, when my husband suggests we go out for date night, or a friend invites Miles to a sleepover, it’s not easy to trust another adult to keep him safe. Expecting someone else to take on diabetes management while you’re away is so stressful that most parents of kids with diabetes avoid it at all costs. It is, without a doubt, the hardest thing about being a T1D-parent.

But learning to leave a child with diabetes in someone else’s care is important for so many reasons. For one, it begins to build some independence for the child, and increases their confidence and knowledge of their own condition. Little by little, this will help them down the road when they are away from home for longer periods of time or (gulp!) when it comes time for them to move out on their own. Secondly, parents need to take care of themselves in order to be better caregivers. Spending time nurturing their own interests and relationships can go a long way in supporting their children emotionally and physically.

Since my son’s diagnosis at age six (four years ago), I’ve taken baby steps in this area by leaving Miles alone at a couple of birthday parties and having grandparents and other sitters care for him for short periods of time. But I still worry and assume that no one else will want to take on the responsibility or burden of managing my child’s diabetes.

So when Omnipod created Smart Sitters, a resource for families like mine, I was ecstatic. Finally…information on type 1 diabetes management that every family needs when leaving their child in someone else’s care. It lays out the basics of type 1 diabetes in a clear and concise way, and includes important instructions and forms that I, as a parent, can fill out for my child and my sitters. Now, instead of assuming diabetes is too much for someone else to take on, I can share with them the most important information (to me), and empower my child to grow more independent without me doing everything for him.

No one can take the place of the caregiver who is there in the trenches, day in and day out. But with this resource, type 1 diabetes kids should be in good hands until they or their caregivers return home.

Click here to download SMART SITTERS.