Well I survived my boys first sleepover a few weekends ago! (Although, I think I've added a few more grey hairs in the process.) The first sleepover for any parent usually means another step towards letting go and allowing your child to become more independent. However, when your child has severe food allergies, a sleepover - especially the first can be quite traumatic. All sorts of emotions, fears and anxieties are stirred up, reminding you how vulnerable your child really is.
Trusting another parent to be as efficient as you, can be daunting and downright scary!
The memory of seeing your child in an anaphylactic state just from eating an unsafe food never goes away. The thought of having your child eat and sleep in someone else's home can be frightening . Fear can overtake your own sense of logic, if we allow it to. If we allow fear to rule we (and our child) are being ripped off. We risk our child missing out on things that can contribute to their happy childhood memories down the track.
I've always been adamant that I don't want my boy to feel like he's ever missing out on anything just because of his food allergies. Sleepovers are, like it or not, part of growing up. Mind you, I didn't take this lightly. There was a lot of praying and a lot of planning for this one night.
Plan, Plan and plan.....
For most parents, planning a sleepover usually takes a couple of days. For parents of children with severe food allergies, a sleepover can take months to plan for. I didn't take this lightly, believe me. What made it easier for me was that the other mum is one of my friends. She also understands how dangerous food allergies can be.
She also understands about cross contamination as her hubby has coeliac disease. They are very aware of how crucial it is to avoid any food that may create a potential reaction.
So I felt confident knowing that my boy wouldn't be exposed to any of his allergic food.
I mentioned that this sleepover had been months in the planning, well it was being planned before the boys even asked. I was very lucky that my lovely friends just 'gets it'. Then again, I wouldn't have risked my precious boy staying with anyone that didn't 'get it'.
We have had numerous playdates preceeding the sleepover. We have also had a 'dummy dinner run'. I know this, sounds obsessive right? My friend wanted to make sure that I felt okay with what she would cook. So we had a combined family dinner and she checked everything with me as she was cooking. It was so reassuring - for both of us. To be honest, I don't know alot of people who would do that.
It made me realise how she must have been feeling also. Let's not underestimate how stressful it must be to have an allergic child stay the night at your house, knowing that you are responsible. She did admit to me afterward, that when my boy had returned safely home, she breathed a huge sigh of relief. She also understands more of what it must be like for me, day in and day out. It was a great learning curve for all.
When I was reunited with Mr 6, his first words were "Mum, I had such a sick time. And I survived" My response " I survived too!!!!"
So, would I do it again? Yes. But, not for a while. I'm glad he had a wonderful time and I'm glad he had his sleepover. But to be honest I'm not in a hurry for another sleepover. While I knew he would be safe, I also lost a nights sleep. So, for now Im content with knowing that my gorgeous little boy is cuddled up in his bed. I love going to sleep knowing he his safe in the next room. Maybe I'm just not ready to let him grow up yet.... and that's okay.