Hospital life- How to cope with caring for your child in hospital


Many parents know how difficult it is to cope outside the home. What they do not realise is that it is even more challenging when that time outside the home is spent in a hospital ward. Unfortunately, children who became poorly may need a bit more time to get better in the hospital. The good news is that with a few simple steps, it is still very possible to cope even while in hospital with your child. Here are some tips for you which I have found to be invaluable to me as a parent carer.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself– I know it’s easier said than done, but all that energy spent feeling sad and sorry for yourself will not change the situation with your child. What is more likely is that by feeling despondent, you will be kept in a state of emotional despair. Try not to dwell on the gravity of your circumstance, take things one step at a time. Ask practical questions about your child’s illness to help you understand things better. Find out about the treatment plan and try to follow the plan one step at a time. For instance, if there will be a blood test, before a scan to decide if an operation will be done. Don’t sit worrying about if the operation will be successful or if everything would ever be normal afterwards. These possible outcomes are real but quite far off. What I found easier to do is

  1. To break down the possible events into little chunks.
  2. After that, deal with the first part of that chunk sized problem.
  3. Next, you can work your way through them one by one beginning with the most imminent step.

So from the above example, take the first step by presenting your child for the blood tests, next wait for the blood test results, then get the scan done, after that you wait for the decision about  if the operation will be carried out or not. Only then should you allow yourself contemplate the operation. Working through what lies ahead in this way will help reduce anxiety and keep you more settled. When the operation comes, the team will tell you the next set of plans. In some cases if the blood test results are fine, you may not even need the operation. Therefore if you have expended energy being anxious and scared, it would have all been for nothing. So don’t forget, one step at a time.

Know when to ask for help – When parents care for their sick child , they assume full responsibility for them. At home, they are responsible for administering the medicines, preparing and feeds and performing various activities at certain times for their child. Most parents, guardians etc usually like to retain control over these activities even when in hospital. They sometimes request that staff allow them carry on their home routines for medicine administration and/or self-care. Hospital staff will normally accommodate this. However, it is important for carers to know that they can and must ask for help if they begin to struggle. It is alright to speak out without feeling awkward. Staff may not offer to help after the initial request to continue as normal. This is usually out of respect for their wishes. Therefore it may yield no result if carers continue waiting for staff to notice that they are struggling. Not reaching out can mean that help may be delayed. This also applies if you find you are getting stressed and cannot cope emotionally.

Accept help especially when offered – Yes! this is a big one. When in any difficulty at times you may find people offering to help you. They may offer to help you take the kids to school, to help you do the shopping, to help you with the ironing. All you most of us keep saying is no no no! You need to realise that the more you decline, the more reduced your chances are of being offered more help in future. People do not like to feel like they are interfering or being too full on. Now please answer this question sincerely – why do you keep declining the help you keep being offered? When people offer you help, it is mainly because they want to. Do you just say no out of habit? Accepting help does not reflect badly on you in any way. It does not even make you weak or a burden. Remember, you are being offered. Even when you go asking for help, it is still a sign that you are strong enough to put your hand up when you feel unable to cope. It does not mean that your acceptance means you are unable to fend totally for yourself. It’s just help. Don’t over analyse why they want to help you. Just snap it up. People can see or sense that you are struggling and generally like to help. So please accept as much help as you can when you are in hospital. There can never be an overdose of help.

Make sure you rest – Usually being in hospital is most times synonymous with stress. It becomes impossible to find a downtime amidst the troubles and trials. You must always bear in mind that you matter too. In order for the wheel of your life to keep spinning, you have to be well. If you break down, everything about your superb joggling act either slows down or totally breaks down. You cannot live on air or chocolate and crisps, you need good food and rest for optimal energy levels to be released by your body. So while I agree that it is hard to find good food in a hospital environment, you can at least find shops around that sell good fruits and vegetables, drink lots of water or even bring food from home where feasible.

Try not to complain too much – Constantly complaining about your circumstance can increase your stress levels. If you find complaining to be a good outlet for your frustrations, you need to still control it. It can leave you exhausted and angry all the time. Look around you and appreciate that it could have been worse. Try to find ways to relax if you can. Perhaps take a walk to clear your head, watch the television, browse the Internet, read a book, colour a picture, whatever works for you. Just find a way to wind down.  A nice cup of tea and a chat never did anyone any harm.

Start planning for when you get discharged – No matter how long you are stuck in the hospital for, it will come to an end one day hopefully. It’s a good idea to plan activities for yourself or family where applicable. Apart from giving you something to look forward to, it will keep you happy. Do not be unrealistic about your discharge expectations (especially in terms of timing and logistics) though. It can range from a mental list of play activities to do with the kids to a short break or holiday away with the family.

Stay positive –  Amidst the whole challenging time you may spend hospital, keep positive, stay positive. Being sad and negative will only bring you down, leave you stressed, exhausted and depressed. There will be light at the end of the tunnel. You must hold firm to that belief. Call it faith if you like. Some may say that your positivity amidst your circumstance is unrealistic. But hey! Being positive has no known side effects it’s never did anyone any harm. What’s more, anything can happen! You never know what lies around the corner.

Thank you for reading.

If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series.

Photo credit: Pixabay