As a seasoned allergy mom, I have learned to navigate this world while trying my best to keep my kids safe. While I can control what goes on in our house, I cannot keep my kids in a bubble. Any activity can carry a risk, some big and some small. There are some things I want you to know, as an allergy mom, to keep in mind.
Wash their flipping hands and mouths.
I was at a party once with my milk and egg-allergic son. I saw kids running around as kids do, with faces and hands covered in ice cream. We’re fortunate that his milk allergy is ingestion only, but not all allergies are the same. A messy hug or kiss from a friend can cause hives or worse. When kids are done eating, a quick wipe of the hands and mouths takes ten seconds and can save a life.
Yeah, some allergies are annoying to accommodate.
My older child goes to a nut-free school. Peanuts and tree nuts are not our allergies, and while my kids love a peanut butter sandwich at home, we’re very respectful of this rule and read labels with snacks as well. When non-allergy moms think of “allergy,” they often think of nut allergies.
But some allergies, like my youngest’s milk allergy, and many others’ top nine allergies, such as wheat and sesame, are not as easy to avoid for school lunches and snacks. Creating an allergen-free environment for three meals a day is annoying. I don’t expect a school to go dairy and egg free for my child for their particular situation. However, “non-traditional” severe allergies sometimes need the same respect and accommodations as nut allergens, even if it’s not easy in a classroom.
Thank you for asking, but we’ve got it.
Allergy moms appreciate when you go above and beyond to be inclusive of their children. When planning a play date or scheduling a birthday party, asking about allergies is amazing and warms my allergy mom heart. Being aware helps keep all the kids safe and feel normal.
That being said, when you offer to make homemade treats for my allergy kid, please don’t be offended when I politely decline. While I know my kitchen and my ingredients have passed the allergy mom test (read the label in the store, at home, and before you use it), a non-allergy parent may not be as knowledgeable about cross-contamination. And I do not expect you to be! I have an arsenal of safe snacks and cupcakes in the freezer lying in wait. We’ve got this, but seriously, thank you for asking.
The anxiety is real.
I am extremely lucky as an allergy mom. My child does not have life-threatening food allergies. Some are not as lucky. Think about how simple a bagel with cream cheese is. That can kill someone else. Think about that. A bagel. This is a reality for some allergy moms. A call or message from school can make your heart skip a beat. Food smeared on a playground or a shopping cart can make you break into a sweat.
While we don’t want to live in fear, we live in the reality that reactions can happen. What I want you to know: our anxieties are real, they’re valid, and what may seem simple for some is insurmountable for others. Ask questions, learn how to use emergency devices like an epinephrine injector, and give your local allergy mom a hug.