Being in the hospital with your sick child is scary. There is no doubt, but there are tips to make a hospital stay with your child, a lot less stressful. It might sound crazy, but I really miss the hospital stays with Zackie when he was sick. Since he’s been gone, I’ve visited our local hospital and reflected on those days when it was just him and I within those four walls. With each admission, I got better and better at packing quickly, entertaining Zack in the hospital and even finding a way to still be a mom to my boys at home. I could pack our bags in 15 minutes flat and race out the door to the E/R. I knew just what to bring on those 3-4 days stays that happened several times each winter. While they were scary, not knowing when he would get better, it was also precious one on one time without the outside world.
Here are the tips that I learned along the way. Ways to make your hospital stay a bit less stressful for you, your child and your family at home;
1. Bring a couple of your child’s favorite toys:
Not only does this stimulate and entertain them when they have to have a treatment or needle, it will also be comforting! Some hospitals have a few toys, but when you child is ill, you don’t want to expose them to outside germs. One of the best moments will be when your sick child starts to really play again- it’s a sure sign that the worst is over! Bring some of their favourite clothes and even snacks for when they are feeling better.
2. Take advantage of hospital resources:
If you are at a children’s hospital, see if they have a clown or Child Life specialist. We received a generous bag of books and toys and had a fun visit with a clown. They will also likely have DVD machines, video games and movies that you can take to your room. Be sure to ask for them, if they aren’t offered.
3. Force yourself to take a break:
Looking after a sick child can be exhausting. If you have multi children at home, being with only one might be a break for you. There is no laundry or meals to cook, so when you can, do something for yourself! Whether it’s getting caught up on daytime tv, reading for enjoyment, getting online or writing in a journal- now is the time to do it! Don’t forget to take the time for a shower or quick clean up. After a stressful day with your child, you won’t believe how wonderful a shower will feel!
5. Write a letter:
Write a letter to your child in the hospital for their scrapbook, sharing all of the experiences or a letter to your children at home to remind them of how you miss them and how they are really helping their sick sibling by holding down the fort at home!
6. Remember to bring the comforts of home:
You might have rushed to the E/R with your child, wearing your winter coat and boots. You will want some of your own clothes, supplies and proper footwear for the days ahead. Be sure to bring some comfy clothes, flip flops or slippers and your own toiletries for the hospital stay. You will be thankful for these remembers of home.
7. Get out of the hospital room when you can:
Be sure to take advantage of the volunteers who can watch your child while you get a coffee or just go for a walk. Four walls can feel small when you are in for a few days. Ask a friend to come and sit with your child while they nap or tag team with your spouse.
8. Sleep when your child is sleeping:
Hospitals are NOT the best places to get a good night’s sleep, so you willl likely be super exhausted physically and emotionally. Take a nap when your child is napping and tell the nurses so they don’t interrupt unless necessary!
9. Get to know the nurses and say thank you (often!):
I always loved finding out about the nurses, knowing them by name and saying thank you. Ask them if they want a coffee if you are going to get one, bring chocolates and leave them at the nurse’s desk, or even a simple thank you will let them know that you appreciate all that they are doing to help your child get better.
10. Ask for help when you need it:
I was fortunate to have an amazing mom who dropped everything to come and help when we needed it. Ask your close friends and neighbours to drop off supplies at the hospital, help with a meal for your spouse or do a play date with your children at home. Having a support system around you can really help pull it all together during a stressful time.
Zackie and me at SickKids
Have you ever staying in the hospital with your child? Do you have any tips to share?