It's the end of a long week, and I'm dying to have a night out with my hubby. Luckily, I don't have to worry, I've already got a sitter lined up! I completely agree with Jen that our date night swaps have been the best thing ever! Because, you know what? It's HARD finding babysitters who are both reliable and willing to take on the responsibility of caring for a child with type 1 diabetes. However, with the arrangement that my sisters-in-law and I have, it's easy! It's a built-in system that runs like clockwork and helps us have some time out with our husbands while we leave our kids in trusted hands.
I remember the first time we hired a babysitter after Kaitlyn's type 1 diagnosis. Evan and I had to leave for about an hour and a half, so we figured Kaitlyn would be OK for that length of time. We got a great babysitter! She was a friendly, competent high-schooler who was quite good with the kids…but we freaked the daylights out of her.
I was so nervous; I went to great lengths to show this poor girl how to handle the most dire emergency situations for a child with diabetes. In short, I told her way more than she ever needed to know for just a short babysitting job. I still remember the look on her face. Shock! Horror! No doubt the poor thing regretted taking on this insane babysitting job! Fortunately, I realized that I was being a bit overdramatic and completely scaring her, so I told her to just make sure Kaitlyn didn't eat anything while we were gone and assured her that everything was going to be fine.
Of course, everything was fine when we came home, but I didn't try to hire a high-school aged babysitter for a while after that. It was much easier to leave the kids with one of my awesome sisters-in-law. Jen, of course, was even more of an expert than I was in type 1diabetes care, and our other sister-in-law, Jenny, became a pro really quick! She is really great at handling all of the ins and outs of diabetes care and I would trust her with Kaitlyn anytime and anywhere! She has had plenty of time and practice caring for James and Kaitlyn, and that's really all it took -- her willingness to learn and some time to practice.
It worked out really well to store surplus supplies at each of our houses; that way, I didn't have to worry about leaving needed supplies with Jenny, because I knew she had them on hand, including all the test strips, lancets and juice boxes Kaitlyn would ever need!
I definitely echo the advice Jen gave: Find someone you trust with whom you can set up a mutually beneficial relationship. If it's someone who also has type 1 diabetes experience, or a close friend or relative who is willing to learn -- all the better! Hiring a babysitter would also be a good way to go; just try to get someone who could be consistently available and who would have the time to be trained and get up to speed. Sitters willing and able to take care of a child with a chronic illness may be a little bit more expensive and/or harder to come by, but definitely worth the freedom and the peace of mind that they can provide!
About the author: My name is Kim. My daughter Kaitlyn (the third of our five children) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just a few years after my nephew James was diagnosed with the same disease. I'm excited to pair up with my sister-in-law, Jen, to share our story with you!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.