Thursday, June 19, 2014

How to Welcome an Allergy Family into Your Home

Friends- this is my opinion, only.  This is not a scientific method or study.  I cannot guarantee that this will protect all children in your home.  I am not a doctor, nurse, nor allergist, just a concerned mama friend of an allergy family, and this is what we do to welcome them into our home.

My best friend's daughter has a peanut allergy- she is one of the 1%.  Yes, I didn't realize it was only 1% that have a peanut allergy specifically.  From how much I hear about this, I figured it would be much higher, but that's what The Peanut Institute shares and, I'll go with it.  Here is the thing, food allergies, as with any allergy really, can be life threatening.  It is believed that each reaction gets worse with most food allergies.  Little A has had skin reactions from her limited exposure to peanut butter, so we're not taking any chances.

But here is the deal.  Families of kids with allergies shouldn't have to be quarantined from going into people's homes.  However, if it is best for their safety, then by all means.  (My husband is allergic to cats so we're cautious, he takes medicine before we go and washes his hands often while we are around cats.)  I personally feel it is fair to have a special allergy free space at an elementary school (for example) for children to eat the best lunches for them keeping everyone safe.  I feel it is the responsibility of the school and teacher to require children to wash their hands after lunch, before returning to the classroom to keep their students safe.

I truly do try to be sensitive to food allergies while still allowing my family to eat those foods.  I am helping my friend by keeping her girls part-time this summer while she goes to nursing school, so I am on high alert these days.  It is important to me that Little A can be in my home at any point in time- but since I have her three days a week, I am watching extra cautiously.  This is my routine/how I prepare to have a friend with a food allergy at our allergy free house.

1. Clear all counters and tables the night before they come over, wipe them down with a cleaning solution. (I use a homemade vodka, essential oil, water cleaner on my granite.  I wipe mine daily, but am sure to use the cleaner on Little A days.)
2.  Spot check furniture if you let your children eat on it- for me this is my living room and kitchen chairs, both leather/pleather.  I do a wipe down with vinegar/water if I see anything suspicious.
3. Wipe handles/doorknobs with a baby wipe.  Again, this isn't scientific, I am doing my best to make a safe space for my friend's child and so far we have done well with this.
4. Wash all children's plates/cups/silverware in the dishwasher.
5. Take all kitchen rags and towels to the laundry the night before she arrives and have fresh ones that morning.
6. No peanut butter on Little A days until she is gone from the house for the day.

I am guessing you can see the reasoning behind each of these- if not, ask away!  Overall, I think of where we have peanut butter in our house (it if very rare that we have actual nuts at this stage in life, but if we did, I would vacuum, which I do daily, to be sure they're all cleaned up.) and try to clean that space.  The one rule I think that is most easily forgotten is 'dishrags and kitchen towels.'  I wipe all faces, it is very possible that I could wipe Little A's face with a cloth used for pbj the day before and she could react- this avoids that problem altogether.  This isn't a perfect plan, but it is good as I know how.  I do not plan to make my home allergy free unless one of my children has a food allergy, but I feel like this is fair and loving to accommodate her at my house.

Do you have any friends with food allergies?  Do you prepare to have them in your home any particular way?

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