Many of you have reached out to ask how we make it work to vacation with other families.
The short answer is this: we have amazing family and friends. Truly. Their understanding, compassion, kindness, flexibility and love are true gifts.
The long answer is: communication, adjustment, practice, and feedback. Every year is different, so we don’t have one tried and true system. We try new places. Molly gets older. We learn from past mistakes. It’s a process.
Because I think it might help, here is the text of an email I sent to our family and friends before we spent a (safe, fun & fabulous) week together sharing a house at the beach...
We are really excited to see you all in a few days. Adam and I are happy to go grocery shopping early Saturday so we can stock the house as everyone is arriving. To that end, we have updated the meal-planning spreadsheet with a grocery list on the second tab. If you see an item is crossed out, it means we already have it so you don’t need to add it or buy more.
- add any items you want or need
- send us your recipes for your meal - we are happy to add items for you and it will help us keep track of what is general food and what is earmarked for a specific meal.
- let us know if you have questions about what Molly can/can’t have and we can advise/help.
Here is how we are planning to handle food next week regarding Molly’s safety.
- Her allergies remain the same: peanut, tree nut, dairy, egg, sesame, lentil, green pea. She is also allergic to some additional legumes and we avoid coconut. We do not eat food with warnings about cross-contact (made in a facility... or made on shared lines...)
- She did “pass” her egg challenge, which at this point means she needs to eat exactly 1/24 of an egg baked into a food every day, as part of a long process to build up her tolerance to egg. Functionally, everything else is the same: we avoid all eggs and anything that is made in a facility with egg.
- We ask that consumption of peanuts and tree nuts be avoided all together in the house we are sharing.
- Molly is used to, and we are fine with, having products in the house that she can’t eat. We do our best to label them with a red sticker and also to avoid purchasing products that are not obviously off limits. Here is what I mean: yogurt is better than a boxed cereal that has a milk ingredient in it; cheese sticks are better than a cracker that has cheese baked in; eggs are better than a cookie with egg in it. Basically if she and we can visually tell it’s not safe for her, it is unlikely there will be a mistake made. If it looks similar to other things she eats, this is when mistakes are more likely to happen. Let me know if this makes any sense - it’s a bit counterintuitive.
- We double check everything, every time.
- When it doubt, leave it out.
- Either Adam or I will be the point person for dinner each night, so we can double check everything, answer any questions, and help out.
We know there are lots of people with lots of needs and preferences, and we want everyone to enjoy themselves and their foods. If anything comes up, just chat with us and we can problem solve. And thanks for bearing with us - as you all know, food allergies demand constant vigilance that doesn’t necessarily match our general approach to parenting or vacations.