During the school age years, there are many opportunities for volunteering, both at school in the classroom and for extracurricular activities like scouting. One rite of passage for parenthood is in going on field trips as a parent volunteer. People with IBD might shy away from going on these trips because they can be challenging physically. However, there are several things that moms can do to in order to make a field trip day go more smoothly.
Start hydrating the day before. It may not be possible to stay fully dehydrated during the day on a field trip because of the location or even the availability of bathrooms. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take care to hydrate in the days prior to avoid becoming dehydrated the day of the trip.
Get some sleep. Everyone cheats on sleep but we know this can really impact people with IBD pretty significantly. Pay attention to sleep in the days leading up to the trip and be sure to get as much rest as possible the day before and plan to have a more “down” day the day after the trip as well.
Bring a buddy. Find out if a member of your mom tribe can also be a parent volunteer on the trip. This can help you in various ways, including watching your group for a few minutes if you need to duck into a bathroom. If none of your besties have decided to go, identify someone else in the parent group and offer to watch out for each other that day. Most other parents will appreciate it!
Do some recon on the location. Field trips could be to anywhere and if it’s to a place that is unfamiliar, it’s a good idea to find out how the location will accommodate a person with IBD. Physically going there ahead of time is a good idea of that’s feasible, but a phone call might serve just as well to find out more about the location. Some things to ask are: where are the bathrooms located, are there places to sit down, and what kind of food is available. Asking the teacher or other parents may also help when looking to find out more about the location.
Dress comfortably. Making sure that you are wearing clothing that is comfortable and allows for walking and going to the bathroom easily is important while on field trips. It can be challenging at times to trade fashion for function but when being away from home all day, it’s important.
Pack your IBD emergency kit. There’s a few things that will probably make the day easier and less stressful, such as having some wet wipes, extra toilet paper, a snack, and water. Check with the school staff and also at the location to be sure that there’s no issues in carrying a bag that has the items needed for a successful day. If there are any restrictions, such as bringing food or drinks into a location, it may be worth having a discussion around the medical need for carrying these items.
Take meds before you go. This will vary based on condition but for those that are prone to pain during the day, remember especially to take a painkiller before going on a field trip. A field trip probably means standing or sitting for longer periods than usual, as well as coping with other unfamiliar situations or food choices that may not accommodate a particular diet plan. This could wind up resulting in discomfort and taking any needed medications beforehand may help in mitigating pain.
Take a photo of your child. This isn’t specific to moms living with IBD, this is really for any time anyone is going to take kids out to a crowded place. Take a quick photo of them with your phone, making sure to get a clear view of the clothes that they’re wearing that day. In case anything goes wrong, you have a picture of them with what their actually wearing that day. A second way this benefits moms who live with IBD or other chronic illness, is in combating the brain fog. It can be challenging at times to remember details like what a child was wearing, so having that visual to refer back to could be helpful in an emergency.
Have fun! Going on field trips is a wonderful way to bond with your children, to learn more about kids in their school or group, and to make meaningful connections with other parents. For these reasons and more, volunteering to be a parent chaperone is something is an enriching experience and is not out of reach for parents who live with IBD.