As an allergy mom, playdates are something I worry about quite a bit. Will the other parent appreciate the seriousness of his allergy? Will he/she be vigilant about cross contamination? Tough questions.
I often say that my son is generally safe within our own world, but when we step outside of our comfort zone, we need to be extra vigilant. Not gonna lie, playdates definitely freak me out, but I hate to rob him of the fun things of childhood, so I’ve developed some strategies.
Meet up at a public place such as a playground, library or local museum
This is a good idea if you don’t know the other family. It gives you a chance to meet the other parent, and determine whether or not you’d feel comfortable with an in-home playdate. Bonus: no one has to clean up and maybe you’ll make a new friend.
Host the playdate at your house
The best way to keep an eye on my son’s food intake is to watch him myself. I prepare some of his favorite snacks, as well as a special game or craft to keep the kids busy.
If you’ve decided your child (and you) are ready for that playdate at a friend’s house, it’s time for a direct conversation with the other parent.
Be clear about the allergies and what to do in an emergency
Tell the other parent, “My son is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and direct egg. If he has a reaction, he might get hives around his mouth and his throat might get scratchy. In case of emergency, call 911. Administer the epi-pen. Call me.”
FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) offers materials to help children and their parents protect friends with food allergies. Check out their Protect a Life (PAL) program for helpful information. Also, check out Roo’s post on Food Allergy Awareness for more details.
Give simple, specific snack suggestions or send him with a snack
If you are really worried about what the other parent might serve, send your child with a pre-packed snack with enough to share. Or tell the other parent, “My son’s perfect after school snack would be an apple or orange, goldfish crackers, and water or lemonade.” Keep it simple.
Don’t forget to send his emergency allergy kit (Auto-injector and Benadryl)
My son has epi-pens and Benadryl stored at school, camp and after school. I carry an extra kit in my purse, and my husband has one in the car. But if we don’t send our son with an extra kit in his backpack, he’s unprotected. Don’t forget!
I hope these tips will help you feel better about arranging a playdate. What are your favorite tips and strategies?