It is a puzzle to parent while having diabetes. Make no mistake about it. Managing diabetes is like a full-time job, just like motherhood. You have to adjust to changes, for instance, crying babies in the middle of the night. Furthermore, you learn to parent an infant, recover from delivery and still stay on top of your diabetes duties. Being diagnosed with diabetes before or after having children is a hard nut to crack. A parent may go through stages of worry, disbelief or sadness before they come to terms with the condition.
To find time and energy to manage diet and healthy lifestyle is a matter of life and death for diabetic parents. Poorly controlled diabetes during pregnancy may lead to miscarriage, premature birth or even birth defects. On top of it, once your children get older, they may be frightened during the spells of low or high sugar levels. A diabetic parent can struggle with mood swings and personality variations due to their difficulties and stress. It is hard to manage your schedule as a parent as it is, but it can be even harder for a parent with diabetes. So, a diabetic parent may forget to measure their glucose level or take their insulin.
Tips for caring for yourself and your kids
1. Take trips and vacations
Diabetes should not prevent you and your children from enjoying trips to grandma’s house, taking vacations, or participating in fun activities. Special occasions like vacations help you spend more quality time with your kids. Also, trips will decrease the stress levels already inflicted by diabetes and providing the kids with the attention they deserve. Before planning a trip visit your doctor. Carry adequate supplies such as insulin and insulin pens. You can split up supplies into two bags – one being your bag and the other being your companion’s luggage.
2. Eat healthy
Cooking doesn’t have to be a hassle like preparing two versions of meals. With the help of your nutritionist, you can have smart ingredients and use them to prepare meals that benefit every member of your family. Some of these meals are simple to put together and are within the carb range that is right for you. The key pillars of a diabetic meal involve controlling carbs and eating healthily. Point out to your children that controlling portions of food have lifetime benefits. Beyond that, the culinary adaptations satisfy the needs of all the members of the family including the type-2 diabetics. So, we can say that as they grow up they develop healthy eating habits.
Grill, bake or broil lean fish or chicken instead of dredging them in flour or frying. Add diabetic friendly flavors besides smart substitutions, and understand portion control so that children can sit down and enjoy a great meal instead of having them crying over bland and boring food. You don't have to be the food police in your family. Don't stop the kids from enjoying yummy treats and sweets once in a while. Of course, let them do it in moderation. If you keep forbidding and denying them certain foods, you risk them forming a habit of sneaking and overindulging in an unhealthy diet.
Furthermore, teach your kids how to eat healthy and the importance of a healthy diet. Show them how to pick out healthy foods at the grocery store. Get them excited about eating healthy.
3. Speak up
Let your children learn the vocabulary of diabetes including words like insulin, pump, check number and Dexcom. But that's not all, as you should also include the colors and sounds within data for a diabetic. You can also talk to your kids about how to read your sugar levels. When they understand what you are dealing with, they will be more likely to be patient, understanding and compassionate. Don't shy away from informing them about how you feel. They will learn coping skills, self-care, and empathy for people struggling with diabetes. Try to teach your children why mommy or daddy is taking shots, and why it is so important to do so.
4. Keep an open mind
Inspire your children to start and stay healthy, for example try running or exercising with them. Jason, who is a father of two and a type-2 diabetic, enjoys exercising with his children. He finds himself preaching to the kids about the sugar content of food. The kids now read food labels and point out the quantity of sugar in certain food and if they are suitable for a diabetic. The kids are also passionate about exercising now.
With the challenge of having diabetes on top of already stressful lives, a diabetic partner needs his or her family to get it together, learn to connect and work as a team. A family that has a diabetic member might be even more special than normal. A family can become especially close as they fight diabetes together.
6. Take turns
Communicate well and ask your family members to share responsibilities among one another. If you are a couple, you and your spouse or significant other can switch schedules. A divide and conquer concept will help you distribute responsibilities. Younger kids can make you run and rip all day. As a diabetic, doing too many tasks courts fatigue. If you push yourself, you pay for it dearly. This is why having a supportive partner can help. A partner can assist in changing diapers or checking your children's homework. When you feel better after low or high sugar, you can be on the touchline watching the kids ride a bicycle or play rugby.
7. Inform and be informed
Teach your children to read food labels and let them know the right range of carbs for you. Your family can join in charity walks in support of diabetes. In addition to that, use food exchange apps and other references to inform you and your children about living with diabetes. Teach children healthy choices of food instead of creating stigma over certain foods. Where can you hide your juice boxes from children to avoid accidental consumption? It is a recipe for inquisitiveness. Talk to your children about the drugs you are taking if they are of age. They can help you take your sugar readings and keep you in check. Store your prescription drugs away from younger children to avoid accidental poisoning.
Do you have the energy to deal with a rambunctious child? Don’t set up your children up for failure because you are diabetic. They need discipline and direction. Is your child acting out? Is your child in the midst of a tantrum? Is it possible you are nagging or making threats to the child? Rules for disciplining the kids should be consistently applied. Remember, low blood sugar levels can make you irritable, impacting on the kid's behavior. Continue to reinforce desirable behaviors in your child. If you feel irritated, check your numbers as you might be suffering from mood changes.
Diabetes chips away a parent’s disposable income. If a baby cries, it is a parent’s job to console the baby. Yet, when the baby smiles, it is your job to feel proud. It is a tremendous change to have babies when you have diabetes. As a parent, you want to be strong and show no emotion before your children. When you hold on to this feeling, accepting the new life in front of you may become difficult. It helps to talk to your children and let them know your status. You will be amazed how supportive they may turn out.