10 Things You Need to Know About Being an Allergy Mum

As we all know, being a mum is a logistical challenge – full stop! There are so many tasks that we manage day to day, and many of these are invisible. They all add up to create the mental load that so many of us are familiar with. This ranges from relatively simple tasks such as booking dentist appointments, brushing hair and clothes shopping to more complex tasks like monitoring milestones, education, managing friendships and supporting emotional development. 

One of the things that is a universal task for all mums is food preparation; snacks, lunchboxes, dinners and more snacks. It is challenging enough to consider everyone’s likes, dislikes, which colour they’re eating this month (especially if there are multiple children with different needs) –  now imagine you have a child with a food allergy (or even trickier, multiple food allergies). I am one of these mums. I have a child who started with three food allergies (thankfully he has outgrown one, but two still remain).

The following list gives you an insight into things you need to know about being an allergy mum:

  1. We carry their life-saving medication everywhere we go – not all families are this strict, but we have a no ‘pens, no eat rule for our son. We carry his epipens (and antihistamine) with us at all times, wherever he goes, the medication goes and if we forget it, we simply turn for home and pick it up. It might sound extreme, but in the case of an anaphylactic reaction, precious minutes count and early treatment plays a critical role in the outcome of the emergency.

  2. We are prolific label readers – every piece of packaged food must have its ingredients closely scrutinised before being offered to eat. My rule of thumb is to check three times; one as you purchase the item, one as you pack it into your fridge/pantry and one before you serve it to the child. This is an ongoing task that has to be repeated with every single item you purchase as ingredients can (and do) change, sometimes without notice.

  3. We do a lot of our own cooking – with my son’s egg allergy, most shop bought and bakery items are off limits. I have learnt that it’s easier (and saves anxiety and heartache) to prepare food myself, particularly when I know options out and about will be limited. I love having the freezer stocked with pre-made baked items that he can grab and microwave when he feels like a cake or a muffin. I always take lots of snacks wherever we go. It’s much easier than having to make a potentially unsafe purchase because of being unprepared. Plus, kids are always hungry!

  4. Anxiety is never far away – as all allergy mums can attest, the anxiety of an accidental exposure and/or reaction to an allergen is never far from our minds. Food is everywhere and when this poses a potentially life or death threat to your child, you can see why we are constantly on guard.

  5. We always call ahead and precheck the menu when eating out – IF we decide to eat out, I will always read the menu online (if possible) then call and speak with the Manager or Chef to identify safe options ahead of time. In addition, upon arriving, I always identify us as the allergy family and reiterate what we need. I always intuitively decide if the restaurant is ‘allergy friendly’ and if I am not confident in the way they handle my enquiries, I will not order from them.

  6. When eating at other people’s homes – we check, check and triple check foods we didn’t prepare ourselves. I have been known to scour through someone’s bin to check the packaging of a pizza. Close family and friends know this now and keep the packaging for us to double check!

  7. We never assume – when it comes to food allergies, assumptions are never safe. A shop or cafe advising that the food in question ‘should’ be safe sends off alarm bells. As in point 5, if we can’t be 100% certain of the ingredients, we just dont risk it.

  8. We train family and friends on how to use epipens – anyone who will care for our allergic children must know how to administer an epipen.

  9. We educate our children to speak up about their allergies – from a very young age, our children are educated about their allergies and learn how to enquire about the safety of food they’re being offered. As a general rule, we encourage our son not to accept any food from someone who is not their mum or dad, without asking that they check first. If this is not possible, we have taught him to ask if the food being offered contains the allergens. It is not failproof, but it has definitely saved us from a few accidental exposures.

  10. Birthday parties are a minefield of risk – excited children, distracted adults, food within easy reach. It’s enough to cause a panic attack in any allergy parent! Communication is key to manage this one, usually chatting with the hosts ahead of time and also preparing safe options to take along on the day. 

There’s always so much to consider when it comes to ensuring our children are safe and well. Being an allergy parent certainly adds a new dimension of considerations, but ask any parent and we’ll all answer the same way. For our children to have the best life possible, it’s all worthwhile!

If you enjoyed reading this blog, please check out my other blogs about motherhood, life and everything in between at Tash Diaries.

Tash Hanham
Author: Tash Hanham

Tash Hanham is a local mum of three young children. Tash is a blogger at Tash Diaries, small business owner, home cook, juggler of life admin, lover of food, adventure and travel. Tash has a vision of empowering other women to live their best life through shared stories and experiences.

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