10 Things Parents Should Do When Their Child Is In Hospital

I consider myself pretty lucky really because although William has had his fair share of hospital stays over the years, recently they’ve been pretty few and far between.  That’s more than I can say of many of my friends though, some of whom seem to spend more time in hospital than they do at home.

Yet despite the stresses of being on the ward 24/7, they never moan, they are always happy and are still always the first to offer help to others.  So, when I asked them for their top tips for spending time on the children’s ward, I was not surprised by how much information they had to offer.  I hope these tips and ideas will help make your next stay on the children’s ward a little easier to manage.

1. Keep hydrated.

This probably seems obvious but keeping hydrated is difficult on a hot ward so we have several tips for this

* Take your favourite brand of tea or coffee with you and your own mug.

* Let’s be honest, the mugs on the ward are sometimes a bit grim and the tea and coffee is usually the cheapest they can buy.  Taking your own allows you to enjoy your cuppa and will encourage you to drink more.  Remember though that caffeine will dehydrate you.
* Drinking water all day long might not be that appealing, but it is good for you so try and alternate each hot drink with a cold glass of water.

* Lay off the fizzy drinks, they will just make you feel bloated and uncomfortable and will also end up costing you a fortune if you are in for any length of time.

2. Stay Healthy
It can be difficult to eat healthily when you are stuck in hospital and most children’s wards only provide a meal for the child, not for the parents.  But it is important that you do eat nutritious meals so you have the energy to look after your child and yourself.

Try and stock up on some decent quality ready meals to heat up in the parents room microwave (presuming they have one!).  Make sure the meals include some vegetables & buy some fruit to keep you feeling healthy while you’re there as well.

Shops in the hospital are usually rather pricey so do try and get out to an off-site shop if you can to save on money and if you can’t get out, then rope in some friends to do some shopping for you or ask them to make you some dinners to reheat in the microwave.

If they’re cooking anyway, maybe they could deliver you a portion of whatever they’re having, if you are in hospital for an extended length of time ask your friends to organise a rota between them so they each make an extra portion once a week and pop it in the freezer so they can be delivered to you every few days perhaps?

3. Hook up to the Wi-Fi
It really is worth paying for the hospital Wi-Fi, if they offer it, because it is important to keep a connection with the outside world while you are cooped up on the ward.  Keeping your friends and family updated on medical situations can be stressful if you have to keep repeating yourself and one quick Facebook status can save you repeating yourself on the phone to everyone.  Plus you’ll need it for our technology tip a bit further down!

“Stock up on cheap knickers so you can throw them away if you can’t get to a washing machine”…

4. Get some sleep
This one can be tricky sometimes if the ward is noisy or the nurses are doing regular checks on your child.  Bring some earplugs or earphones to block out the noise of snoring patients (or parents) and the constant beeping of the sats machine.  Don’t panic about not being able to hear when the nurses come around, if they need you they will wake you up so take the opportunity to sleep while you can.

The beds on the children’s ward are often narrow and uncomfortable but you can make them a bit easier to tolerate by bringing your own pillow(s) and blanket(s) to help you sleep especially if you are going to be there more than a couple of nights.

If you are in the hospital for an extended stay, ask the nurses to move you to a side room when one becomes available so that you and your child can have some privacy and peace and maybe get a few extra winks!

5. Get a break
Try and get out of the hospital at least once a day, even just for 10 minutes.  Ask the nurses if anyone can sit with your child for a little while if they can’t be left alone (if the ward is busy this might not be an option), if a friend is coming to visit maybe they could sit for a while so you can go for a walk.

If you are under the care of a children’s hospice, sometimes the nurses will be able to come and sit for a few hours so you can get a break and maybe even go home for a shower.

Getting some fresh air and having a short walk will help to revive you and stop cabin fever from setting in too much.

6. Make friends
It is important to have company but you may find that you don’t get many visitors if you are in a hospital far from home.  However, there will be plenty of people on the ward you can talk to so do take time to chat to other families and staff to get some human contact.  Kirsty, Mum to Alexander, says

“Be really nice to the orderlies & health care assistants – & even nurses – they do go out of their way to make drinks sometimes, or find you some biscuits & talk to you for a bit.”

7. Pick clothes wisely
Sitting next to a hospital bed all day requires comfortable clothes!  So, don’t be afraid to ‘slum it’ in comfy joggers and t shirts.  If you have a pair of PJ’s that could pass as trousers then bonus!

It is always hot on the children’s ward so you will want short sleeves and thin trousers but do make sure you have layers, and even a coat, as it will feel extra cold when you go outside for a walk.

Of course, being on the ward for a long time means it is a bit hard to do any washing but if your friends and family ask if there’s anything you need then say yes and ask them to do a load of washing for you!

Jackie, Mum to Mathew and Ellie, recommends you

“Stock up on cheap knickers so you can throw them away if you can’t get to a washing machine”

It’s also wise to take some comfy shoes, flip flops or even slippers so you can slip them on and off easily.

8. Make the most of technology
We all live on our phones these days don’t we, so make sure you take a charger with you!  If you have an iPad or other tablet but don’t have access to Wi-Fi then remember you can hook it up to your personal hotspot on your phone so you can still access the internet.

Netflix or Amazon Prime can be a life saver if you can’t sleep in the night but if you don’t have a subscription to those then remember BBC, ITV, C4 and channel five all have their own apps you can download to stream programmes for free. Make sure you have Wi-Fi for streaming though or you’ll eat through your data in no time.

Tablets are also great to keep your child entertained in hospital and can be attached to the bed or table using a tablet holder or clamp.

what to watch on netflix

9. Organise your parking
Make sure you ask about parking if you are in hospital overnight and have your car with you.   Some hospitals will offer cheap parking for long stays and others will reimburse or clear the charges altogether for blue badge holders.

Don’t wait until you are discharged to find out this vital information or you may be left with a parking bill larger than your mortgage!

10. Be prepared.
Sam from ‘Don’t Pass the Buck’ recommends you have a ‘Go Bag’ packed with everything you’d need if you had to go to hospital in an emergency,  a bit like you would have a hospital bag ready for the end of your pregnancy.   Sam stocks hers with the essentials such as nappy’s, wipes, clothes, toiletries and phone charger so that you don’t have to rush around and gather the essentials should you be in an emergency situation.  You could even keep it in the car so it’s always handy.

Have these tips helped you?  Do you have any other ideas to make a stay on the children’s ward a little easier? Please share them below for other readers.

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