Craig and I aren’t really party animals. We like to watch movies and cuddle late at night. And if we can have a date night out together, we love doing that too, but that isn’t really all that often. The reality is that we have three (soon to be four!) young kids, and we work hard and are tired! But this holiday season we decided it was time to see if we could pull off a grown-up gathering at our house and manage to keep our low-key style.
We sent out invitations that went mostly to our (very large) extended family. We were hosting a game night for grownups only. Our plan was for the evening to start at 9 p.m. That’s pushing the late side for us and maybe a bit for our friends too. But the thinking behind this was that the oldest of our kids (James) goes to bed at 8 p.m. regularly. This late start time would give him a good hour to get to sleep before the guests arrived.
Now, our house is tiny. Picture 1200 square feet. The big boys’ bedroom is super close to the “action” of the party scheme. We decided we needed to relocate the boys for the night. I knew that unless I made the choice appealing, we wouldn’t get good participation.
So this was our plan: Luke was moved in with Ben for the evening. Ben’s room is the most remote and most quiet in our home. To entice him to sleep in the room, we set up a castle pop-up tent and put a sleeping bag in it. Then we gave him a tiny bribe: “Stay in your room all night and you can have an ice pop after dinner tomorrow!” It was just enough to get him pretty excited. (He’s still pretty easy to bribe!)
I purposely didn’t put James in there with Ben and Luke. Instead I created an incentive worthy of a nearly 10-year-old. I let him sleep in the master bedroom. I gave him a glass of water, a stack of his favorite books and a testing kit. I told him he needed to stay in his room. If he was awakened, he was more than welcome to read for a bit, use the bathroom, grab a drink of water or test his blood sugar. He was given the same promise that if he stayed in his room, he’d receive an ice pop, but in his case the terms were altered just a bit. I told him that if he tested low at all, he needed to come find one of us. I just don’t feel comfortable not having James follow his instincts to ask a grownup for help! The additional safety feature for the evening was that I was going to keep the continuous glucose sensing monitor with me. That way if I wondered throughout the evening, I could just check the monitor and get a reading as to what his blood sugar was doing.
The evening went really well! There were lots of games, and I was able to have grownup conversation without any interruptions. I could actually sit down (imagine that, parents!). Our guests didn’t stay super long -- we’re all busy with stuff going on this holiday season -- but it was a blast.
The kids ended up doing great. Luke and Ben slept until the late morning. To my knowledge, they weren’t disturbed at all! James had a harder time staying asleep, and he was pretty tired. But he loved being able to stay up “late,” and since it wasn’t a school night, there was no harm done.
I felt like it was important to Craig and to me to be able to entertain and connect with other grownups. It didn’t really require a big “work-around” at all to take care of James and his diabetes. It just took a little creativity, and the effort was more than worth the boost we received from spending time with our family and friends. All in all, we counted the evening a success!
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
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.
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