A child being placed in the hospital is a parents worst case scenario. It does not matter if the reason is a sudden fall or accident that you were not expecting or they got the flu and their fever just will not go away or in our current case were diagnosed with COVID-19. All of them are worst case scenario.
So what do you do? How do you deal with everything when your stress is moved up to a thousand and you are having to stay calm in the face of one of the scariest thing you could ever imagine.
(Please note, I am not discussing when you child has a long term hospital stay. If they are in the hospital for weeks or god forbid months these tips would be very different.)
Here are my top 5 ways to help you and your little one deal emotionally with being stuck in the hospital. Because lets admit it, when they go in so do you.
Bring objects to make them happy –
One way to brighten your child’s spirits is to make the hospital stay a little more fun. Bring toys from home they love. Remember to sanitize EVERYTHING! Have someone bring you books, activities, toys, or games. Never forget the iPad or tablet. This little device has saved us so many times. It helps distract your little one from everything going on. Watch funny movies or really anything they want. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have distracted our daughter while leads were being applied or new IV’s were being inserted.
Decorating their room –
Our daughter had one stay at the hospital that just would not end. Every time we thought we would be going home the doctors said no. We were there for two weeks in the end. Around day three I could tell she was tired of being stuck in the same four walls, so was I.
To help her sister drew a bunch of pictures, her dad brought them over along with her blanket from home and some fairy lights. I put the lights up around the window, making sure there was no wires which would get in the way of the hospital equipment, and put the pictures on the wall while she was sleeping. When she woke up she was like a new kid. It brightened her day and made the room feel more homey.
Turning sponge baths into spa days –
This tip is more if you are able. My little one was never able to take showers because she had leads and such all over her. She HATED the sponge baths. It was a struggle to get her to let us clean her. I finally figured out if I acted like it was a super special like spa treatment she would play along. I would be really exaggerative with my words, maybe change my voice, make her giggle and feel so special. My husband brought her favorite towels from our house and her favorite jammies. Those things helped tremendously.
For you Both:
Family, include them as much as you can –
Now if you are like me and have a siblings at home they will most likely ask many, many questions. We are in the age range where they might get it but still ask a thousand questions. For the siblings it is a really good idea to be honest, answer all their questions, and then soothe and reassure them to the best of your ability.
If the siblings can visit that would be wonderful, but that has never been the case with us, so we FaceTime. We have had the tradition of letting the girls facetime every night before bed. This helps both of them. The child in the hospital gets a pick me up and the child at home can actually see their best friend and know they are in the best place possible.
Keep in mind there might be some fears that come up with seeing their sibling attached to machines, tubes, or simply in the hospital setting so be ready to deal with those questions.
Remember they will most likely not remember it –
One of the biggest blessings is that if your child is admitted into the hospital chances are they will not remember it. Whether it is because of their age or because of how poorly they are really feeling. So try to remember during all the needles, scary machines, people with masks, the poking and prodding, and all the tears, these memories will fade.
Self care and Dealing with your own feelings about the situation –
One thing I am terrible at, like world class terrible is taking care of myself anytime but especially when it comes to one of my kids being sick. I shut everything I need out and focus all my energy on them. This is 99% of parents. However, if your child is in the hospital chances are you are too. Now you might not be sick like they are (however I have been sick at the same time as her which is the worst) but you still want to stay with them.
I tend to not leave once I am there. However the last time when a week hit I had to take a break. It was intense and the stress was making me no good to my little girl. So my mom came and sat with her while I took a break and went home. I got to see my other daughter, my dog, take a shower with my products, and have some quiet time not at the hospital. I came back refreshed. It was only 2 or so hours but it gave me the recharge I needed.
The tip, actually leave the hospital room, go for walks, meditate, pray, read, do something that makes you happy. Give yourself the permission to checkout for a little while. It will be good for both you and your child.
When your child is admitted to the hospital the days get long and the stress overwhelming remember to take small breaks, deal with what’s going on, make it as fun for them as possible, keep in touch with family, give them a taste of home as much as possible and most importantly give all the love you can.
While I hope you never need these tips they are here if you do.
Stay healthy, Stay happy,
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