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Date Night...What's That? 
Finding a babysitter after diabetes

According to the Diabetes Research Institute's Education Team, which includes Della Matheson, RN, CDE, Lory Gonzalez, ARNP, CDE, Amy Kimberlain, RD, and Gwen Enfield, RD, CDE, you CAN have a date night even after a child's diabetes diagnosis.  They offered words of wisdom and compiled a handy list of tips for you...

Management of type 1 diabetes can be challenging.  When you’re a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, the challenges become more complex and involved. 

There is a “yin and yang” of the spectrum in adapting to management demands.  The trick is finding that balance and achieving good blood glucose control without inducing family stress and a feeling of overwhelming burden.

Diabetes Burnout vs. Diabetes Resiliance
“Burnout” is defined as a reaction to enduring stress that includes physical, emotional and mental exhaustion.    One of the biggest reasons for burnout cited by a research study done at the Orebro University Hospital in Sweden occurred in parents that felt that they did not have “practical support” from their network of family and friends. (1)

“Diabetes Resilience” is defined as the achievement of one or more positive outcomes despite exposure to significant risk or adversity.  Simply said, it means that given the same set of circumstances, that should or could lead to burnout, some people seem to cope better than others.  There are certainly many contributing factors for this but one of the main features of people who exhibited diabetes resilience was that they felt they had a support structure that they could rely on.  They were not alone! (2)

It is extremely important to have other family members and friends who are willing to step in and care for your child with diabetes so that you can have time with your spouse, time with other children and family members, or just time for yourself!!!  Within the family, practice distributing the load.  Break up the necessary diabetes routines into individual tasks, and then divide the tasks up among different family members.  Also, if appropriate, ask the child with diabetes what kinds of help they may want from other family members. (3)  It is even an advantage for the child with diabetes to know that there are others in his/her life, other than their parents, that can be counted on for support and encouragement!

We hope these helpful hints for identifying and training babysitters are useful to you!

  • If you know another family affected by diabetes, take turns watching each other’s kids.
  • Place an ad in a local university’s newspaper for someone with diabetes-related experience, especially if the school has a nursing program.
  • Recruit a teen or young adult with diabetes, or an older sibling of a child with diabetes.
  • Talk to leaders of diabetes camps, especially the ones for teenagers. They may have a list of those who are interested in babysitting.
  • Check out Safesittings.com (which was started by a college student with type 1) or Sittercity.com (which has a special needs option and will run a background check for a fee) or other online resources.

DIY: Train a Safe Sitter

  • Download our guide for caregivers and school personnel.
  • Give a general diabetes overview (not too technical).
  • Review routines. Talk about your child’s level of independence when it comes to diabetes management.
  • Take out all of the diabetes supplies and describe what each is used for.
  • Discuss meals and snacks: what your child should/should not eat, when meals and snacks should be given, and how much the child is allowed.
  • Explain what to do in an emergency situation.
    • Describe how to recognize a low blood sugar reaction.
    • Describe what works to treat your child’s reaction and where supplies are kept.
    • Explain how and when to administer glucagon.
    • Make sure your babysitter knows how to reach you.
  • Teach how and when to check blood sugar and keytones.
    • Demonstrate how to use your child’s meter.
    • Ask the babysitter to practice using the meter.  
    • Describe target blood sugars and details on what to do if the levels are too high or too low.
    • Demonstrate how to administer insulin and let the babysitter practice. Write down the “usual” insulin regimen clearly so the correct dose is given.

Most importantly, a child with diabetes is a child first; diabetes comes second. She/he should never be treated any differently than any other child.  If the parent is comfortable teaching these “Diabetes Survival Skills” and the babysitter/caregiver feels confident she/he understands them, you are well on your way to preventing or treating diabetes burnout. How can a parent care for a child, or any other family member, if the parent is not mentally, physically, and emotionally sound?

To avoid burnout...

  • Schedule in a little "me time" each day as if it were an actual appointment.
  • Use that one-hour appointment for reading, reflecting, meditating, yoga, exercise, or whatever relaxes you.
  • Schedule the time and stick to it!  Don't make excuses.  You will be more effective!

Now...who's up for dinner and a show?!?!

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SOURCES: DRI Education Team, ADA, dLife, and Adventures in Babysitting
1. Lindstrom C, Aman J, Norberg A, Parental burnout in relation to sociodemographic, psychosocial and personality factors as well as disease duration and glycaemic control in children with Type 1 diabetes mellitus; Acta Pediatrica, 2011 100: 1011-1017
2. Hillard M, Harris M, Weissberg-Benchell J, Diabetes Resilience: A Model of Risk and Protection in Type 1 Diabetes. Curr Diabe Rep (2012) 12:739-748.
3. Brackenridge, B.P.  How to Balance Diabetes Control and Good Nutrition with Family Peace, American Diabetes Association

 

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