Anyone who has read this blog before or perhaps follows me on social media will know that we love a good explore outdoors. We absolutely adore making the most of each and every passing season and what that might bring, whether it be running around in the daffodils, stopping to inspect the bluebells, playing hide and seek in the rapeseed or throwing crunchy leaves. Eva especially is fascinated by nature and has always loved exploring and learning outdoors.
It is ironic perhaps then that for her it is always slightly more complicated than ensuring she has the right footwear or if she needs a hat. For her we have to take into consideration her long list of allergies. I have talked about it before but she is what is known as an atopic child with multiple allergies, asthma and eczema, she always has been and perhaps she always will be so part and parcel of my parenting journey and my responsibility is to manage not only her allergies but her life, so in actual fact she doesn’t have to miss out at all. No she won’t be rolling in freshly cut grass with her shoes off and without a care in the world anytime soon (well unless she fancies not being able to see for a week) but I feel like we have got to a point where anything (perhaps aside from the barefoot grass rolling) is possible with a little bit of planning and 6 years of experience.
People will often remark how well she copes with it all, they’ll ask what lengths I have to go to or are even surprised that she suffers so badly as it isn’t always apparent. Of course as an allergy Mum it is always, always in the back of my mind and life does take alot of planning that people often do not see, so although this may seem like a bit of a different sort of post for me I also thought it may be helpful. Maybe it will help others going through it, it might give you ideas or bring up things you have never thought of (believe you me I have read and tried pretty much everything in 6 years!) or maybe you’re just curious how we cope and what she has to go through on a daily basis. Below are 10 things that we do, or do not do, in order to give Eva the best quality of life and so that we can say yes much much more than we ever have to say no. Because I definitely spent way too long doing that and life is just too short, especially childhood.
- Medication. I’ll start with the obvious and the one that of course is under the advice of her doctors but at present Eva has daily antihistamine, preventative inhalers and a steroid nasal spray. At 6 years old the nasal spray is the one thing that has transformed her physical symptoms since she had it, I think it is only recommended for children aged 6 and over but if they are younger I would definitely say some kind of barrier cream (like vaseline) around the nostrils to prevent pollen getting in is a great alternative.
- Change Clothes Frequently. It pains me to do this as who needs more washing? Although it doesn’t pain Eva as she is obsessed with changing her clothes! However pollen does cling to clothes so it is important to change and wash regularly especially school clothes and when she has spent alot of time outside.
- Do Not Dry Clothes Outside. I absolutely love hanging washing outside to dry on a summers day (not to mention the time and cost saving factors) but it does attract pollen so I try to tumble dry or hang dry Eva’s clothes to prevent them having pollen in them and then bringing it into the house.
- Close Windows. I keep her bedroom windows closed especially in the late afternoon before bedtime so that she isn’t left sleeping in a room full of pollen, I open them of a morning once she has got up to get the fresh air and close them before she gets home from school.
- Avoid Mowing The Grass. We don’t have a huge garden but grass is the worst thing for Eva’s symptoms so we never ever mow the grass when she is around and close all the doors and windows when we do. We (I say we, I mean Eddy!) usually mow in the evening to give it the longest time to settle before she will be out there again.
- Always Wear Shoes Outside. As awful and strict as it sounds we insist on wearing shoes outside at all times and then taking them off when we come in. I vividly remember a year when she was about 3 years old, it was so hot and sunny and she ran around carefree on some cut grass barefoot, she was having such a lovely time, yet within a few hours had horrific swollen eyes, face and such a sore red rash that took weeks to treat. I swore after that we would never put her through that again. Now we have Roma and even though she doesn’t have any allergies we have the same rules so Eva doesn’t feel too different.
- Wear Sunglasses. We are lucky in that Eva has always loved sunglasses but wearing them actually does help to prevent the pollen from getting into her eyes. Of course the wraparound ones that she now won’t wear are the best but any is better than none. It is also worth noting that they can wear them at school. Eva’s school has a no sunglasses policy but I can send a note in which allows it for medical reasons.
- Shower Instead Of Bath. If we have been outside or somewhere highly pollinated we make sure that clothes are in the wash and she has a shower and washes her hair to get rid of any pollen as it is especially bad to take it into the bedroom. We choose to shower rather than a bath in these instances so she isn’t sitting in the pollen water. That being said of course we do not shower her every time she ever goes outside as this would be ridiculous and she already has eczema so would be counterproductive but some common sense prevails here.
- Clean Regularly And Damp Dust. I am a bit of a clean freak anyway but I vacuum regularly (when she isn’t around and usually in the morning to let everything settle before she comes home) and I also damp dust which is using a damp cloth instead of a dry one so as to trap the dust and pollen rather than it being thrown into the air only to land again 2 minutes later. I should add that she is also allergic to dust mites which is another reason why I do this but it works for pollen too.
- Wash Hands. A simple but effective way of preventing pollen from both coming into the house or even entering the body is washing hands. We of course cannot constantly shower but washing hands when coming in from outside, from school and even before eating ( we LOVE a good picnic) can help to stop the spreading of pollen and unknowingly eating it too without having to eat inside all the time.
We also go with the everything in moderation approach. I am probably quite strict with alot of these things because I have seen the pain it causes and indeed the freedom it can bring to follow what we know works but we also want to live life so if there isn’t an opportunity to tick the boxes and living life gets in the way then flexibility is always key too. When reading up myself ( and I did ALOT of googling in those early years) I found lots of places saying stay inside whenever you can, close windows and doors all the time and don’t go anywhere highly pollinated or when the pollen count is high. Now of course I don’t judge people who choose to do this or have to do this but for me, for us, for now at least I cannot bring myself to avoid showing my children the big wide world, for her to miss out on her passion and to not appreciate this beautiful world around us. I also hope to teach Eva that she can have troubles but to give her the tools to still be able to do the things she wants to do. Just maybe with an inhaler and a bottle of piriton to hand!
And here are just some of the moments that we have experienced in the last 9 months that without these measures or indeed following advice to avoid the outdoors altogether Eva would have missed. Life is short, childhood is short and so are the seasons so lets celebrate them and I for one will put in all the work I need to to be able to see the curious look on her face when she gets close up to a bluebell, answer the questions of how old a tree is when she is inspecting the bark or seeing that beaming smile when she is throwing leaves at her sister. We don’t have the time to stay inside, there is too much world to explore.