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Coping with the stress of socialising!

(18 Posts)
harverina Tue 16-Aug-11 21:10:03

Hi, me again,sorry!

Just wonder how you all cope with regular socialising...for example, going to toddler groups etc.

I go to a weekly toddler group and up until recently I have been fairly relaxed - snacks and drinks are provided but these are generaly "safe" foods like rice cakes and fruit, water and diluting juice. There have been a couple of occasions where my dd, who is allergic to milk and eggs, has had a couple of small allergy spots on her wrists at my group and I have just given her piriton and its been ok. I never got stressed about it as I just assumed that she had maybe touched another kids food or that there may have been crumbs etc.

Now, however, I am stressed out! As some of you may remember by DD had a severe reaction recently requiring adrenaline etc and this has made me totally on edge. Yesterday at toddler group I stayed closer to her than usual, making sure that she didnt go near anyone with chocolate etc (to be fair, most kids dont have chocolate, nuts etc). Then, shock horror, out came a chocolate birthday cake!!! I watched my DD like a hawk as it was passed round then suddenly I looked round at her and another mum was offering her a slice of cake. I managed to run across the room before my DD touched the cake (she was a bit unsure about taking it but was just about to take it from the womens hand). So, in the end, all was ok...except my nerves are frazzled.

Just wondering how you all manage...do you avoid situations like this?

babybarrister Wed 17-Aug-11 08:15:10

my DS has a tshirt with allergy warning on it - cannot remember where I got it from but it gae the message out not to offer him food. you need to tell the other mums/organisers not to offer your DC food and to stop their DC offering/touching with the food - do not worry though, everything is doable ....! smile

youarekidding Wed 17-Aug-11 08:29:27

You can also buy plastic bracelets with allergy warnings on, they are bright. Although agree a tshirt is probably more effective. My DS has an allergy sports bracelet and I've noticed this summer people asking what it is and a dodgy tan line from it.

It gets easier. You never stop thinking about it but you learn to cope.

garliclover Wed 17-Aug-11 10:56:46

harverina, I'm glad you started this thread as we've just had our first real social outing and it was difficult to relax. DS had his first birthday celebrations with our NCT friends and there were cake crumbs and breadcrumbs everywhere (DS also allergic to wheat). At one point I caught my DS just before he helped himself to some cake, and I ended up frightening him by lunging forward and grabbing it from his chubby little hand....broke my heart.
I forewarned my friends about his multiple allergies but I get the impression that parents of non-allergic DCs just don't get it, however sympathetic they are. So even among my friends I still have to make a big deal about it (in a joking, relaxed sort of way) so that the message gets across.
I like the idea of the t-shirt.

youarekidding Wed 17-Aug-11 11:09:15

I did once purposefully accidently allow DS epi-pen to fall out of my bag and roll across the floor <quite a feat for a pen encased in an allergy bag> wink to someone who thought tomato ketchup couldn't possibly incite an allergic reaction. grin

Sometimes blatant 'this is what we deal with' does work.

Weta Wed 17-Aug-11 11:37:33

I'm not in the UK so I don't really know what a toddler group involves, but I agree with BB that you need to tell the other mums/organisers about the problem - and maybe the organisers can make some kind of announcement to the other mums. And do be blatant - as in going to hospital and possible lethal consequences.

You do have to be really vigilant yourself though as other people just don't understand how serious it is. I would go armed with other special treat snacks for such occasions and then give it to your DD so she is busy with that instead of the birthday cake.

It does get easier, honestly - I think toddlers are the hardest as they don't understand, but even by about 2.5 or 3 my DS had a good understanding of not taking food from anyone except his parents because it could make him sick.

babybarrister Wed 17-Aug-11 18:35:48

I agree with Weta - to be honest by 2.5 most of them know and will not take anything from anyone else. The cruel irony of DS reactions is that NOT ONE so far has been caused by him. I have trusted DS for a couple of years virtually 100% not to take food from anyone else [he is almost 5 now] - sadly this is the reality for the truly allergic DC as they remember the reactions ....sad.

How many greedy, food loving 3 year olds have the capacity to nibble new sweets gingerly and then wait 5 minutes for the next bite ... only the truly allergic IME.

That is the distinction between the real allergy sufferers and the bullshitters in my humble experience

People do not really understand anaphylaxis - I am sure I did not before DS, despite considering myself well educated, sympathetic etc etc grin. If I had to respond to whether I thought lentils could kill anyone of course I would have answered no. Sadly the reality is different.

You have to educate the people around you - email them reports and links if you think they think you are exaggerating - I always find it comes better from someone else's mouth ....

Weta Wed 17-Aug-11 19:37:07

Oh yes, BB is absolutely right - my DS is now 7 and not a single one of his reactions has been caused by him, in fact I'm pretty sure they've almost all been caused by us sad

LOL about waiting for the next bite... not to mention actually saying 'no thanks' to loads of special treats when they are offered.

greenbananas Wed 17-Aug-11 19:51:08

haverina, toddler groups can be very difficult unless you have supportive staff and a group of supportive mums around you. However, it is possible to go and have a great time, so long as you have systems in place for coping (e.g. the right people being aware, safe snacks in your handbag etc.)

Like most genuinely allergic children, my DS (nearly 3) is very aware that he needs to check all food. He is also very good at spotting danger from other sources (e.g. discarded ice-cream wrappers in park). I hate that he needs to live in this state of high alert, but to him it is just life, and he doesn't seem particularly upset about it. We are very matter-of-fact about the whole thing, and don't make a fuss unless we have to.

I agree that most people find it difficult to understand anaphylaxis issues if they have no personal experience (and I am ashamed to say that before I had DS I wouldn't have thought twice about letting a child play with toys before I had wiped every trace of yoghurt from their face and hands). It can be hard to educate your friends, and even harder to get the message across to casual acquaintances at toddler groups, but it is well worth doing so that your DD can have a 'normal' social life.

I tend to avoid groups which are too chaotic and groups where children have random snacks in the same room as the toys. Luckily, there are some groups in my area which are just right for my DS - safe snacks in a separate room and no need to be constantly talking about his allergies in front of him. I'm also lucky to have friends who adjust their own children's diet when my DS is around, and who are happy to come to play in my house where I know everything is safe.

Like youarekidding, I have been known to let the epipen 'fall out' of my bag when I think people don't believe me grin

mintyneb Wed 17-Aug-11 20:28:16

I would echo what others are saying. Toddler groups and groups of kids + food can be a nightmare but if you let the group leaders know and go prepared with suitable treats they can be done.

I was lucky when DD was that age (she's now 4) in that we knew that she was allergic to CMP and possibly nuts but any reactions she had were limited to vomiting and hives and so I was probably relatively relaxed - although still very diligent - about her exposure to food.

now that her reaction to CMP has become anaphylactic (within the last 2 months) i do see things in a very different light. As others have said she has known from a young age that she is 'allergic to cows milk' and will never take anything offered to her without checking first. Fortunately she has never been that type of child to hover around other kids or parents as soon as they produce sweets or cakes demanding that she has one - or is that because I have been drumming home the message about avoiding dairy and always having a suitable treat with me?

Only this weekend a 5 year old cousin offered DD a sweet to which she immediately asked 'does it have cows milk in it?' Cue a very surprised look from the cousin who probably thought that it didn't look like it could possibly have come from a cow! She did come straight over and ask me if it was OK to give to DD though.

This evening DD went to sit on DHs lap for a cuddle but told him in no uncertain terms that he wasn't allowed to kiss her or touch her with his right hand! he has just had a packet of cheese and onion crisps but fortunately he had gone and had a wash straight after anyway smile.

When I think about it, it is really sad that DD has to live her life this way but she just takes it in her stride and I'd rather this way than be facing regular trips to A&E due to recklessness

The short message is things will get easier and your DD will soon be taking control of her condition. That day will come!

fruitloafrocks Wed 17-Aug-11 21:37:25

My son is now five and has just been to a friends birthday party all by himself for the first time - I can now completely trust him to know what he can/cannot eat, if in doubt he'll go without or he'll ask for an alternative when we get home.

He is so heartbrakingly good about it all.

OP just trying to offer some light at the end of the tunnel - it can be fraught but does get easier.

harverina Thu 18-Aug-11 21:21:28

Hi everyone, thanks for the replies, as usual lots of support, advice and positive stories.

Babybarrister, I am going to go and look for a t-shirt, thats a fab idea! If I manage to find allergy ones I will post a link, failing that I could just get one printed.

You are all so right - no one understands the seriousness and the stress invoved having a child with severe allergies. We have only just recently started carrying epipens. I look forward to when my DD understands a bit more about her allergies or at least knows not to take food from anyone else. I dont want to avoid going to groups like our toddler group as she loves it so much. It is pretty chaotic sometimes but thankfully, apart from on birthdays, the snacks that are available tend to be safe snacks. Of course, I cant control what other mums bring with them. And I hadnt even really thought about the kids touching toys after eating allergens blush

I am the secretary (a recent thing!) so will speak to the leader and see if we can put something in the newsletter next time about my DD's allergies - there may be another child in a similar situation that we dont know about, who knows. A few of the mums already know about my DD's allergies and the organiser/leader is trained in administering epipens which is reassuring. But a t-shirt may be a good way of getting the message properly across!! (DO NOT FEED ME!)

I always takes snacks with me - I do this wherever we go as there are no guarantees that there will be food available for my DD, but as she gets older it will be a good idea to pack a treat for emergencies like this to stop her from feeling left out. She doesnt really realise at the moment.

harverina Tue 30-Aug-11 11:34:57

Hi everyone,
Just to update...yesterday my dd was at the allergy clinic and we found out she is allergic to nuts. We went to toddler group this morning and I spoke to the leader. SHe was great...she made the decision there and then that there are to be no birthday cakes from now on and went round every mum and explained to them about my dd. She asked the mums if they are bringing snacks for their dc to check the packs and if there are even traces of nuts to keep the snack at their area. She also agreed that we would put out a note at a future group. I'm delighted with her quick response. At the moment I want to keeP my dd wrapped up in cotton wool at home but for her sake I need to try and get over my anxieties.

babybarrister Tue 30-Aug-11 20:47:26

great - good for you!

shouldbeelswhere Tue 30-Aug-11 22:35:05

That's great harverina, I wish we had a similar response sad We have to take our own snacks, including when they have their little party at the end of each term. I nip across the road for an individual lolly or ice cream as the helpers never remember (which totally drives me mad, but that's a whole new thread). They just don't get it. It's great news that you have good support smile

harverina Sun 04-Sep-11 23:02:02

Sorry for delay replying, not been on alot sorry.

Shouldbe I'm pleased with the response - I feel it is as much as I could expect really...although a total ban on food would help my anxiety levels a bit more!

freefrommum Tue 06-Sep-11 16:02:06

It's so difficult. My DS is 4 now and starting school tomorrow (dark glasses and tissues at the ready) and every new stage has been scary and problematic but we've made it through fairly unscathed so far. Toddler groups and soft play are always difficult with an allergic child because young children often have food/milk on their faces and hands. I don't think we ever made it through a whole session at soft play without having to give a spoonful of Piriton at some point because he would always come in hives (usually from touching another child or the same toys/surfaces as other kids). In fact, this is also the case every time we go to the hospital to see the specialist as the toys and kids in the waiting area have the same effect! We did have a close shave at music group once when DS was about 2 and found a discarded jammie dodger on the floor but thankfully I spotted him just before he put it in his mouth. That wouldn't happen now as he's really aware about his allergies and not eating anything unless mummy says so. I remember another mum at music once saying to me 'ooh aren't you brave bringing him to something like this!'. I thought to myself, it's got nothing to do with being brave, what am supposed to do? Lock him up until he magically outgrows his allergies?!

Basically, I just watched my son like a hawk at these sort of things when he was younger so that I could step in if necessary and spot any early signs of a reaction until he was old enough to understand his allergies himself, say 'no' when offered food and tell me if he was getting itchy or feeling ill. I was very proud the first time I witnessed him refuse a plate of biscuits that an unsuspecting mum was trying very hard to get him to accept. I was close enough that I could have stepped in but he couldn't see me and I deliberately let him make the decision himself. The poor mum was mortified when I explained to her later but it was a real milestone for us. I've never not taken DS anywhere because of his allergies, we just take his own food, medication and wipes (for surfaces and sticky fingers/faces) and hope for the best. However, I don't see me letting him go to a friend's house for tea on his own in the near future, not that many parents would be willing to be epi-pen trained before having him anyway!

I'm sure a total food ban would help your anxiety levels in the short term harverina but sadly life isn't 'free from' and in the long term I think it's better to start preparing both yourself and your little one to deal with situations involving food sooner rather than later. Otherwise you risk lulling yourself into a false sense of security and then when your little one starts school you'll be a nervous wreck! I of course am perfectly calm and relaxed about DS starting school tomorrow... hmm

babybarrister Tue 06-Sep-11 19:17:35

mine has just started school last week - having lunches there as well!! they have not killed him yet grin

it is OK I promise- just a lot of extra preparation when going out and avoiding some places and heading for others ...

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