This is a reprint of an article I wrote a while back for Teddy’s blog. Do you have a friend facing an unexpected (or planned) hospital stay with a child? Wondering what you can do to help them? Or are YOU facing a hospital stay with your child, and feeling too overwhelmed to come up with something to suggest when others ask how they can help you?
Here are some ideas of things I’ve done for others, things others have done for us, and things that just sound nice.
1. Bring Food.
– Real, Homecooked meals
– Fresh Fruits
– Flavored Drinks, or pop if the person drinks pop.
– Good coffee
– Good fast food, if they eat fast food. (About a week in, and I start craving french fries)
2. Gift Cards
– Places that deliver food to the hospital
– Hospital system food (many hospitals have in-room meal delivery for parents and these meals can usually be purchased FOR parents in the hospital cafeteria)
– Places not owned by hospital but within the hospital (coffee shop, book store)
– Gas Stations
– Hospital hair salon
– Other hospital services that are “extras” like that (UIHC has massage stations, for example)
3. Company. Just bring yourself.
4. Unexpected surprises. Of any sort.
5. Treats for the child.
– A fun hospital gown
– Craft or activity kits
– A new movie or game
– If appropriate, bringing your kids for a visit, with maybe a board game or group-play video game
6. Mail. I love getting mail when I’m in the hospital.
7. Texts or email just to check in.
8. Books, magazines that are something the parent would realistically read. This isn’t the time to sell your friend or family member on a new parenting style, religion, or diet.
9. Use of a laptop, kindle, ipad, or similar if they don’t have one.
10. Offering to hang out with the child so the parent can run to the store, go for a walk, go outside, go somewhere and cry, whatever. Bring a game or activity to do with the child.
11. Help at Home
– Pet Care
– Promises to shovel snow if needed, or mow grass if needed. (in our case, Randy can obviously do these things himself when I’m in with Teddy, but he also has to work full time and be a single parent and he also wants to come visit us on the weekends and it’s just plain NICER for him to not have to worry about these things.)
– Meals for parent/siblings at home
– Light housekeeping
– Ferrying mail, clothes, etc. between home and hospital
– Helping with other kids (taking them to lessons or classes, taking to/picking up from school, taking on fun field trips, providing before/after school care, etc.)
12. Mini bottles of liquor. Which are of course forbidden in hospitals, and aren’t appropriate for everyone, but I’ve had days when an amaretto and coke would have been a nice way to finish out the evening. Obviously, you need to use good judgement here.
13. A ride. If they took an ambulance to the hospital, they don’t have any easy way to get home. We’ve also had times we took the car to our local hospital and were transported from there to the children’s hospital 2 hours away. We then needed help arranging for our car to get from the local hospital to our home, and then we needed a way to get home. It’s a lot of vehicle shuffling.