Roses are sneezy
Foods cause problems too
Let’s make Valentine’s Day
Safe for you!
It might only be the end of January, but love is already in the air. As you might be learning, when you live with food allergies planning for holidays is an essential part of life.
Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate the love and friendships we have. We mark this occasion with special dinners (not always allergen friendly), flowers (that make some people sneeze), stuffed animals (AKA a dust mite house), and candy (often containing a top 8 food allergen).
It can be hard to love a holiday that is so hyper-focused on traditions that can leave you feeling anxious, itchy, or worse. But, with some thoughtfulness and flexibility, we can make our Valentine’s Day plans safe and enjoyable.
If your child is the one with food allergies, it is important to find out what events, activities, and treats the school plans to have.
- Check-in with your child’s classroom teacher. In my experience, they are the best point of contact because they know celebration plans for the classroom as well as any school-wide plans.
- Check-in with the PTA. Your classroom teacher may be unaware of the PTA’s activities and events, it is important to contact them as well.
- Kindly ask questions to make sure the plans are safe for your child. Remain reasonable and work together to adjust any potential risk spots.
- Offer to help! Giving your support both in ideas and time always eases the stress for everyone involved.
Remember, often, the school staff and the PTA don’t manage food allergies day in and day out in the same capacity we do. Use this opportunity to share your knowledge and make the environment safer for not just your child but all those with food allergies. You can positively impact the culture of the school.
Here are a few other tips on working with the school:
- Some schools choose not to have any food or candy-related items for celebrations. Find out your school guidelines on this before you start trying to fix a problem that might not exist.
- When asking questions to the teacher and/or PTA, keep in mind that some art and science-based activities contain food. Ask about this directly! (Experience has shown me that when you ask about food, people are thinking about food getting consumed, not about hidden food proteins in other activities.)
- Know what boundaries need to be in place for safety. For example, we don’t need to exclude all of Shaun’s allergens from the classroom to keep him safe. If the celebration includes fruit and yogurt, we have precautions in place to keep his food separate, provide him with a yogurt alternative, clean his eating area before he sits to eat and post snack clean up of surfaces and hands. Some people’s food allergy needs require stricter boundaries; Know your needs and advocate to have the boundaries in place.
Non-Food Valentine’s Fun
These days giving experiences as a gift is hugely popular – and I get it! It emphasizes spending time together, communicating, and making memories! While downplaying material things that clutter our lives.
Here are some great, allergy-friendly, low-cost activities you can plan as part of your Valentine’s Day activities that don’t include food!
- Hand Made Crafts
- Books about Kindness and Love
- Science Activities
- Scavenger Hunt
- Community Kindness Acts
- Museum Adventure
- Bowling Date
A simple internet search will reveal a tremendous amount of ideas for clever, non-food Valentine’s Day treats. These are some of my favorite’s:
- Stickers – “Valentine, I’m stuck on you!”
- Crayons – “Color your heart out, Valentine!”
- Bubbles – “Your sweetness blows me away!”
- Watercolors – “Hope you have a colorful Valentine’s Day!”
- Glow sticks – “You make my heart glow!”
- Rubber Ducks- “I’m a lucky duck to have a friend like you!”
- Book Marks – “You’re #1 in my book!”
- Crazy Straws – “Sip, Sip Horray! It’s Valentine’s Day!”
- Bouncy balls – “Valentine, you make my heart bounce!”
- Pencils – “Write on Valentine!”
Although I have focused a lot on non-food options, creating safe and yummy meals and treats for Valentine’s Day is legitimate and encouraged. But even us food allergy folks can get caught up in being food-centric, and I wanted to show the variety of celebratory options beyond food.
Also, if you still want to share candy as part of your Valentine’s Day celebration, try to see out an allergy-friendly option. (Just a reminder always read every label every time, even with an allergy-friendly company!)
No matter how you choose to celebrate, I hope your Valentine’s Day is sweet.
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