Our lives were turned upside down when we found out Macks had food allergies. I cried for days after the diagnosis. Part of me was scared of the unknown, part of me was fearful for Macks, and part of me felt a deep sadness for him.
It didn’t take me long to start asking questions. I called friends who have children with food allergies, I spoke up and asked friends online, I Googled for hours trying to find every single bit of information that would make this journey for us just a little bit easier.
We started reading labels on everything, educating Macks and the girls, informing our family on his allergies. Slowly, things started to become more normal. Although only two, Macks started asking what the ingredients in things were before he ate them. I learned to bring alternative snacks when we were going to parties that had food without labels, and it took a couple of times, but he was okay with eating the alternative. Although still a little bit fearful, I was becoming more and more used to our new normal.
That was until our new normal really hit me. I didn’t realize what a process it was going to be for Macks when he started school this fall. I was losing all control for three hours each day, which gave me complete and utter anxiety. I knew that I could make sure that his lunch and snack for school was safe, but I couldn’t control what his classmates brought in.
Unfortunately Macks’ school does not have a no-nut policy. They told me that they could recommend for parents not to bring in nut products, but could never guarantee it. It was disheartening and very discouraging knowing that I was sending him to school everyday with this rule. Here I was trying to do my best to learn about Macks’ allergies and I was already hit with a bump in the road.
Shortly before school started, I was informed by his teachers that I could email the parents of his classmates informing them of Macks’ allergy and educating them on what they should and shouldn’t bring into the classroom. Rather than telling them everything that they couldn’t bring in, I gave them suggestions for swaps that we’ve made at our house since Macks was diagnosed. The teachers supported me in my email and made sure that they would do everything in their power to keep Macks safe while he was in their hands. They were open to my suggestions and thankful for the education of allergies that I was bringing to the classroom.
I assured them that this was very new to me and I was thankful that they were letting us all learn together. With their help, we’ve implemented a non-food celebration in the classroom. This was huge for me. Macks has the same teachers that Avery did when she was his age, and for every birthday celebration, parents brought in cupcakes and cookies. This was a big change for them, but it was one that they thought completely necessary to keep Macks safe. They also let me bring in snacks for holiday celebrations in the classroom. Macks is the only child in his class with food allergies, so I was more than happy to bring in snacks that the entire class could enjoy without excluding anyone. They also let me bring in wipes to the classroom to make sure that hands and tables get wiped before and after anyone eats anything in the classroom, to avoid any contamination of possible allergens.
Cleaning surfaces and washing hands is so important to help reduce the risk of exposure. One of the first sites I went to for research on Macks’ allergy was Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE.) They have so many resources for parents of children with food allergies and made me feel at ease in a time when I thought my world was crumbling around me. When looking for what type of wipes I should bring into the classroom, I learned that Nice ‘n CLEAN partnered with Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) to help raise awareness around ways families can help protect their loved ones from food allergens no matter where they are.
Nice ‘n CLEAN is the exclusive wet wipe sponsor and proud supporter of FARE. As part of this commitment, 1% of all purchases of Nice ‘n CLEAN Antibacterial Hand Wipes will be donated to FARE to help advance their critical education and advocacy work in communities across the country. Their Antibacterial Hand Wipes are proven to remove 99% of peanut residue from hard surfaces. That’s a fact that can make drop-off just a little bit easier for me.
We’re now in a great routine at school and Macks is so excited to walk into that classroom everyday without a care in the world. One of the first things that everyone that reached out to me after Macks’ diagnoses was that things will get easier and soon this will be normal for everyone in our family. We’re progressing in this, and we’re doing it together as a family. There is still so much for us to learn, but I’m so thankful to have so much support around us as we do.
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