Summertime Tips for Bringing Routine to Your Kid’s Type 1 Diabetes Care


With school out and summer vacation in force, does it feel like you are bidding adieu to whatever sense of control you had finally gained over your child’s blood-sugar levels? If so, check out these summertime tips for bringing routine to your kid’s type 1 diabetes care.

A Summer of Fun and Adventure is Not Out of the Question

We are aware that school offers structure, which can make routines more predictable for both you and your child—regardless of how your child feels about it.

When summer comes, some—or all—of that schedule inevitably changes.

This can impact blood sugar in different ways.

It’s true that diabetes feels easier to control when you follow a routine, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have an exciting and adventurous summer!

In our work supporting parents of kids with type 1 diabetes, we find it’s important to remember these 3 themes:

1. Control Your Controllables: Establish your anchors and non-negotiables to help you focus on the things you can control vs. the things you can’t.
2. Check In On Your Values: Set intentions now about how you want the summer to go. How do you, as a parent, want to feel at the end of summer? What do you want your child to experience? How can you act in alignment with your family’s values?
3. Keep the Big Picture in Mind: Part of parenting a kid with type 1 is embracing that there are natural ebbs and flows that can’t be avoided. This season might be hard, but it’s not forever. Don’t catastrophize a couple months of slightly higher time in range or resist the challenges that come along.

For the purposes of this article, these are some tactical areas to be mindful of as your child’s routine shifts for the summer:

  • Meal Timing: Is your child eating meals and snacks at different times when there’s no school schedule? The timing of their meals will affect your insulin requirements.
  • Sleep Schedule: During the summer, does your child sleep in? Are they snacking at night and staying up later? These changes in routine may cause highs and lows at different times of the day.
  • Activity Level: Is your kid spending the entire summer running around outside till dusk? Or do they have more time to watch TV and play video games now that they’re at home? In any case, their insulin requirements will vary in tandem with their degree of activity.
  • Travel/Diabetes Camps: Is your child going away to a diabetes camp? Or is your family going on a trip? Blood-sugar fluctuations are to be expected in unfamiliar surroundings.

It may take some time to observe how meals, sleep, activity, and travel/diabetes camps are impacting your child’s blood sugars. That’s okay! You can expect some ups and downs as you and your child acclimate to whatever your summer routine looks like.

Which of these aspects do you think your child will experience differently as your family transitions into summer mode? By giving this some thought now, you can shift from a reactive to a proactive mindset toward the changes that are on the horizon.

A Few Things to Consider

3’s a Pattern

We like to say that a blood-sugar fluctuation becomes a pattern when it has happened three times.

For example, observing the same high or low every day at a certain time three days in a row means that you can feel confident in looking deeper into a root cause.

Optimize Your Tech

If your child is using an insulin pump, summertime is the time to consider using features like:

  • Varied basal profiles
  • Temp basals, and
  • Longer boluses.

Use them to adjust to changes in hormones, food, sleep, and activity levels, among other things.

Tracking is Key

While it may feel counterintuitive to spend more time or focus more energy on your child’s diabetes than you already are, the intention you put into tracking their numbers as their routine changes will allow you to be more prepared in the future.

The truth is, as a parent, you know that switching from school to summer is only one example of when your child’s routine will change. Kids’ lives are more in flux than the average adult, especially as they grow, pick up new interests and get involved in new activities and hobbies.

The transition from the school year to summer vacation is an opportunity for you and your family to look at the bigger picture and practice a new way to handle changes in routine with confidence and clarity.

Start small!

Find little ways to observe new patterns!

Get proactive!

And then get out there and enjoy summer with your family!

WRITTEN BY Lauren Bongiorno, POSTED 06/07/24, UPDATED 06/07/24

Lauren Bongiorno is the founder and CEO of Risely Health, a leading Type 1 Diabetes Health Coaching company. Most people living with type 1 diabetes don’t get the support they need in a typical 15-minute doctor’s appointment, so Risely’s team of Nationally Board-Certified coaches who live with diabetes built a health coaching model that’s helped thousands of people reclaim the life they deserve.