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5 Ways to Look After Yourself When Your Child Has Allergies

This week on the blog I thought it was about time we talk about us! My friend naturopath Jessica Donovan has written an article that explains how we can look after ourselves so that we can do the best job we can when we look after our kids with food allergies or food intolerances! Thanks Jess!

Being a mum is both challenging and rewarding, it brings both happiness and turmoil into our lives! Being with our children can make us feel warm and fuzzy one minute and frustrated and overwhelmed the next! And that is if your children are healthy and well!

Add an allergy or intolerance in the mix and things can quickly become out of balance. All the things everyday mums do for some time out are just another stress for a mum of a child with allergies. 

     - Going to visit friends leaves you on edge. 

     - Eating out is a battlefield

     - Family get togethers and kids parties are often traumatic

There is so much more to think about when your child has an allergy. So many more hours of your time are required for preparing suitable food for your child. And then there are the appointments, the medications, the research and reading, continually seeking the best and safest options for your child. It can feel like you are fighting a losing battle trying to get family members on board and educating your child's tribe about the importance of keeping certain foods away from them at all costs.

Having an allergy is not something you would ever wish for your precious child but have you ever stopped to think about the snowball effect your child's food allergy is having on your well being? 

Probably not! You're a mum after all and everyone else's needs must come before your own. Right? 

I want to challenge that belief! Yes your children are always going to come first! Especially when you have a child who has a medical condition. But to be able to look after them to the best of your ability it is essential that you move yourself up the ladder that is your priority list, even if it is just one rung at a time! 

Here's how

1. Look after your child’s mother aka YOU!!! 

Putting the needs of everyone else before our own can NEVER sustain us long term. Eventually it drains us –  physically, mentally and emotionally. Putting ourselves first (at least some of the time) is necessary for our well being AND the well being of our family. Just as the safety talk goes before the aeroplane takes off, if there is an emergency, put YOUR oxygen mask on first, THEN see to your children. They won’t have any chance of survival if they don’t have you to look after them. The same goes with your well being, you need to prioritize time to look after yourself so that you can be more present, energetic and balanced as a mother. We need to make time to do the things that make us feel good, that bring us joy and make us laugh, things that fill up our emotional fuel tanks, only then can we look after our children to our best ability and do all the extra bits and pieces required when they have an allergy.

2. Fuel

Having children with food allergies usually requires us to spend more time in the kitchen, preparing suitable food for them. Our entire focus tends to be on their diet and we often forget that we need proper fuel too! It becomes extra important to fuel your body with healthy foods when you need the energy to keep up with the demands of a child with a medical condition. Forget reading food labels and navigating your way around confusing health claims. Just focus on eating real food, straight from a plant or animal as much as possible. This is food as nature intended, think vegetables, salads, fruit, fish and healthily raised  animal products. Add flavour using fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, chilli, tamari and healthy oils such as coconut and olive.

3. Move

Aim to move your body in a way that you love every single day. You don’t have to do formal exercise, join a gym or run if that is not your thing! Do something you enjoy so that it doesn’t feel like another thing to add to your to-do list. Jump on the trampoline with your kids, go for a bike ride after school drop off or turn the music up at home and dance around like a crazy woman! Moving your body makes you feel good and provides a great stress release. Get out of the mindset that you have to exercise to lose weight or you should exercise to flatten your tummy. Move your body because it makes you feel good and it will become something you actually look forward to!  

4. Pause

When was the last time you stopped? Not to go to bed, scroll through Facebook or drive the kids to their football match! I mean stopped, sat down, taken some deep breaths and tuned into yourself. Most of us live our lives in fast forward, multi-tasking to get everything done and thinking ahead to all of the things we have to do. This is living reactively, feeling like we only have time to do the things that need to be done and missing out on the  important things in life, like spending quality time with the people we love. The first step in making life more manageable is slowing down within yourself. It doesn’t have to be a long meditation, just commit to simply sitting down for 5 minutes, taking a few deep breaths, quietening your mind and tuning in to yourself. You will be amazed at how much efficient you become by implementing this simple practice.
5. Connect

Having a child with allergies can be lonely and we can isolate ourselves because we feel like no one understands. I can assure you that there are other mums in the same situation as you in your community, it is just a matter of finding them. Join a support group or seek out other families that are dealing with allergies at school and organise to get together with them regularly. Make time to have meaningful connections with supportive people who make you feel good. Spend time with people you love. Go on date nights with your partner. Call your parents just to chat. Go on outings with like-minded families. Organise a get together with your girlfriends and have a laugh. Build a tribe and make it a priority to connect with them regularly.

Having a child with allergies is tough. As with any challenge we are thrown in life we have a choice to make. We can choose to let it consume and overwhelm us or we can choose to be open to what it is here to teach us. 

As a Naturopath I have seen how the challenges of motherhood can affect a womans well being. I know from my experience working with hundreds of mums in my clinic that extra weight, fatigue and other chronic symptoms can disappear by implementing simple healthy habits.

Jessica Donovan is a woman’s holistic health expert who helps mums get their sparkle back and become a more energetic, calm and joyful version of themselves. She is a one stop shop for all things nutrition, stress and hormone related. Jessica combines her deep naturopathic knowledge with a realistic, empathetic, inspiring and down to earth approach to empower women to look after themselves and take charge of their own well being. 

You can find her online space Energetic Mama here.

Energetic Mama and Happy Tummies - Food Allergies