Tips for parents of children with diabetes
All children build blanket forts and play tag. However, not all children check blood sugars and administer insulin every day. While a child with diabetes is just as healthy and active as their peers without diabetes, some special planning is required to make sure they are able to have fun AND manage their blood sugars. Here are some helpful tips for parents of children with diabetes.
Looking for a Babysitter?
Here's some helpful hints:
- Talk to friends, family members, and other parents of children with diabetes in your area about referrals for great babysitters. People who are great with children are often also great at learning the extra things needed to care for a child with diabetes.
- Go to your local ADA or JDRF chapter to see if they have a babysitter list. Also, attend the local meetings. You may find a family or two who are interested in swapping babysitting duties, or you may find a family or two who would like to partner with you in training a babysitter that you can both share.
- Talk to the leaders of diabetes camps, especially the ones for teenagers. They might have a list of teenagers who are interested in babysitting.
- Go to your local colleges and universities (and even nursing schools) and see if you can advertise for a babysitter who happens to have diabetes and is interested in caring for your child(ren).
Found a Potential Babysitter?
Once you've found someone who seems great, here's some other tips for making this adventure work:
- Spend time teaching your babysitter about diabetes. If possible, include your child in that education, and allow your child to take the lead in explaining what he/she needs to do to stay healthy.
- Be sure to have written handouts detailing such information as the signs/symptoms of high and low blood sugars as well as strategies for treating them; how to check blood sugar numbers; ways to calculate insulin doses (including corrections and insulin-to-carbohydrate ratios); how to administer insulin (whether it's a syringe, a pen or a pump); carbohydrates in favorite meals/snacks for your child; emergency plans (including glucagon administration); and any medications and allergies your child may have. Remember that each person with diabetes is different, so even if the babysitter has had experience, the specific details related to caring for your child need to be reviewed.
- Have the babysitter spend a few hours with your child(ren) while you are at home anyway. Have them get to know your child and have them practice doing the diabetes tasks like blood sugar checking and insulin administration while you can observe and supervise it. That's a terrific way for the babysitter to get guided practice.
Do You Want to Become a Babysitter?
If you have diabetes and want to become a babysitter to help parents of children with diabetes, here's some tips for being a safe and fun babysitter:
- Take a babysitter's class. They often offer such classes through the American Red Cross and the YMCA. Showing that you are responsible enough to take a course in safe babysitting increases the chance that you will be hired.
- Make sure that your own diabetes is under reasonable control, that you are doing what you need to do to stay healthy (you are checking blood sugars, correcting numbers as needed, and taking insulin when you need to). Since you already know that low blood sugars can happen (sometimes without warning), be sure that you are always carrying something to treat a low with you at all times.
- Make sure you have all of your diabetes supplies with you, and that you keep them out of the reach of the children you're caring for.
- Review the ADA's safe sitters guide for additional ideas (www.diabetes.org).
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As a Type A personality with a perfectionist streak, diabetes management is something that easily gets under my skin. If I can’t do something perfect, then I’d much rather just not do it at all. Which is why burnout creeps up on me super fast. A few days of pesky numbers and I am ready to throw all things diabetes out the window and watch it get hit by an 18-wheeler. So attempting to get my A1c into the lowest possible range ever has proven incredibly tasking for my perfectionist...