Once again, as parents of allergic children, we dread a day that once had such fond memories for us. It wasn’t so long ago that we, as children, looked forward to the candies and Be My Valentine cards. Now, as parents with allergic children, this day is a “HIGH ALERT” day. We have our cell phones charged, we don’t book any big meetings this day and are a little on edge until the children arrive back home safely.
Here are some thoughts around how we are going to handle this upcoming day to help reduce the risk for our children…
Communication: Early, this coming week, reach out to your child’s teacher and ask about the plan for Valentine’s Day. Will there be food allowed that day and if so, how are they going to monitor the situation with your child and their life-threatening food allergies. Discussing or sending a note to the school, Monday or Tuesday, will give you and the school time to plan for the most inclusive and safe approach.
Options for consideration: There are many non-food ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, with cards or other small gifts. If food or treats is still on the agenda, maybe look for an allergy safe treat that everyone can have through working with the teacher and getting each child to donate, so you can buy the treat for the whole class.
Responsibility: Your child’s safety is a shared responsibility between you and your child’s teacher/school. I would strongly recommend that the teacher send a note home to all parents, reminding them about the food allergies present in the class, and that each child’s candy that is sent to school will be examined prior to allowing it in class (if candy is allowed).
Teaching: We should re-enforce with our children about the possibility of candies that day and explain once again that everyone’s candies may not be safe, so you should not eat them. Once you know the plan and if you feel comfortable with the teacher’s ability to execute the plan, you may change your approach.
The Back Up Plan: Instead of having your child live without treats, provide them with a safe alternate that is just as special a treat so they can be included in the fun, just in case. Also, use this time to check the expiration date of their EpiPens and ensure they take them with that day.
As for us parents, let’s take that forward step this coming week to get the teachers involvement in the plan. Without teacher support, it will be another very anxious day. Appreciate your child’s teacher’s efforts and possibly consider a small gift for them as a token of the thanks.