All my Hot Tips for Surviving an Outpatient Infusion with your Child

Infusion days. Ugh. I mean, who WOULDN’T want to spend hours sitting in a chair, hooked up to an IV? Especially a child? Not my kid, and I’m guessing not your kid, either. But I’m here to help you get through it. Hopefully. Let’s be honest, it’s still going to kind of suck, right? But here are my very best tips for surviving a long infusion day.

Prepare yourself for the IV or port access

How bad is it going to be? We’ve experienced the gamut here. From terrified port access, to fighting IV access, to mostly sitting still and letting them poke him. Make an honest assessment of how hard it’s going to be, and prepare yourself appropriately. You. Not your kid. You. Prepare YOU. Take a deep breath. Go to that place where you go when you need to grit your teeth and just power through. Lock those emotions up somewhere safe and deal with them later. Promise yourself beer later. Give yourself a pep talk. Cry in private before you get there. Whatever you need to do for you, do it.

 

Prepare your child for the infusion.

You know your kid best. Some kids do better with advance warning, at least a few hours. Some kids do better finding out immediately before something happens. Give as much information as they can handle, to whatever extent it will help them. Teddy and I have found that he prefers a quick overview of what’s going to happen EACH TIME. Even Infusion #15. He knows what’s going to happen as well as I do, but he likes to go over it. “When we get there, we’ll go to the library and get a book, and then we’ll go up and say hi to (the check-in lady). When (our usual nurse) comes, we’ll go back in the room, get your weight and some Sprite and they’ll check your blood pressure and get everything set up, and then (the child life lady) will come and the nurse will put in your IV. It’ll hurt, but just for a little bit and then it’ll feel better. Then we’ll just sit there for a few hours, and you can play on your iPad, and they’ll come do your blood pressure, and you’ll get a prize, and then we’ll go home!” He likes me to repeat the part about it’ll only hurt for a minute and then it’ll feel better, and we also usually review sitting still and people holding his arm down, and that he can choose to watch or he can choose to have them count. We usually have to go over all of this information a few times.

Prepare your child for the poke

Whether it’s IV placement or port access, infusions tend to involve needles and being held still. Even if your child has a PICC or Broviac or similar, they still need to hold still while everything is sterilized and the line is accessed. I can’t imagine how awful it must feel to be a child being held immobile by adults with needles. Even if they’ve done it a hundred times, it still can’t feel great. Does your child do best with a pep talk? Distraction? Talking them through it? Cold? Numbing cream? J-jet? Cold spray? Sitting by themselves? Sitting on your lap? Laying down? Snuggling with you? Try all of the options that sound good to your kid and let them discover what works best for them. Through trial and error, we’ve found that Teddy does best with less fuss and no pre-treatments. It’s weird. But I think he’d rather just get it over with.

Pack All The Things

No, really. How long are you going to be there? We’ve never had an infusion last less than 3 hours. And then, for us, about 4 hours of driving, as well. Bring the things for your kid. Bring more than you think you’ll need. I usually bring activities, schoolwork, and some toys, and he packs some stuffed animals, and we bring snacks (and his tube feed). And obviously also his tablet. And bring the things for you. I bring a book (or Kindle) for me, a notebook, knitting, and sometimes my laptop. And chargers. And drinks. #packallthethings   I usually walk in to our infusions with my regular backpack, plus his backpack, plus an extra bag. I look like a hoarder. But we’ve yet to run out of things to do.

 

Be prepared for sensory needs

Does your child have sensory needs? Or do they just get really squirreley sitting with an IV? Be prepared for this. Teddy tends to need breaks to run and engage in other gross muscle activities, but that’s not practical on infusion days. A, we’re really not supposed to leave the room and B, he’s all hooked up to an IV pole. So, we adapt. We get up every once in a while and do some moving around things like jumping and dancing. He also really responds to deep pressure and soothing movement when he’s having a particularly hard time.

Does your child use a weighted blanket that helps in stressful situations? Bring it. A compression shirt? Wear it. Fidgets? Bring them. Does your child use headphones or music to address sensory concerns? Bring them. Don’t be afraid to turn the lights down or off, if that will help.

Take advantage of Child Life and other hospital amenities

Most hospitals that do infusions on kids are big enough to have a child life department. Use them. They can help with the poke part, they can bring in toys or devices or games, they can sometimes even send someone in to play with your child. Some hospitals have an area in the infusion center where child life is stationed and kids come to them, and some hospitals prefer to keep the kids in their own rooms and send child life to them. However your hospital works, ask your nurse what the options are!

Does your hospital have other amenities? Ours has a patient library that will give a free book to every child each visit – and we always stop to get a new book before infusions if they’re open.

 

Prizes and Rewards

These are distinctly different, but often confused, so I’m lumping them together. In my house, a prize is a small treat or toy that is not earned. It just is. I usually bring a small prize to infusions – something that cost a few dollars, max, and that will be interesting enough to keep him busy for a little while. A Hot Wheel, or some playdough, a small toy of some sort, or some sort of new activity. A new maze book, or a small puzzle, or a game of some sort.

We also usually wrap up with another prize – or, really, it’s just lunch but it’s framed as a prize/treat. We always “get” to go to McDonald’s afterwards. (The reality is, it’s lunchtime or past it when we leave and we have to eat anyway, and McD’s has cheap ice cream that he’ll eat.) But it’s always been presented as a special treat, and he sees it as a special treat, and that’s all that matters.

You can also choose to do a reward. I don’t usually like to reward in medical situations. I feel like he does the best he can with most situations, and if he’s misbehaving, it’s usually because he’s not getting some need met, and I don’t feel that a reward is fair nor effective for Teddy in medical situations. But your kid might be different, and if rewards do work well for your kid in medical situations, go for it!

 

Don’t forget siblings

Obviously, you won’t forget them, but if you’re bringing siblings to infusions, you’ll not only need to consider their needs in terms of stuff (snacks, activities) but also in terms of their emotional needs. It’s stressful for brothers and sisters to watch their sibling being hurt, even when they know it’s for a good reason. Be sure to let siblings know that they can wait elsewhere during the hard parts if they want. Alternatively, maybe they want to help. Each of my kids has gone through a phase of feeling very important because they were the ones who got to help distract Teddy during a medical procedure. They each took their job very seriously.

 

Well, there you have it. My best tips for infusion days. Please comment with YOUR tips!

Remaking the Holidays

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For many of us with not-quite-typical kids, holidays can be a stressful time. Different food, different mealtimes, houseguests, travel, extra activities, so many people, and so much busy-ness.

Does that work for you and your family? If so, that’s fantastic. Keep at it. Don’t change a thing.

But maybe, instead, you feel stress. Or the ever-present worry that you’re not doing enough. Or maybe that you’re doing too much. Or that you’re missing something. Or that you could be enjoying this season more than you are. Or that your KIDS could be enjoying this season more than they are.

How do you fix this, though?

At the risk of getting a particular song stuck in your head, I think you have to start by letting it go. Let it ALL go.

Just dump it all.

Build your holiday season from the ground up.

I wanted to say “build your perfect holiday season from the ground up,” but that’s not really very realistic. For many of us, what our kids can handle – or what is safe for our kids – conflicts with what we parents really want. So let’s let go of that, too. Let go of the idea of a perfect holiday.

How about “build your realistically doable and emotionally comforting holiday from the ground up”?

I bet you’d like this next part to be all about how you do that. But I don’t know how you do that. I mean, I can make it sound all easy – balance your needs and your kids’ needs and do what works best for you!!

Of course it’s not that easy. I don’t know how you finish. But I do know you start by letting go of all of the “should” statements about the holidays. “We should (whatever).” Let them go.

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For our family, we still do a few of the “should” things. We have local family and we should see local family at Thanksgiving and Christmas. But we are able to accommodate Teddy’s needs (and the needs of the other kids) into our “should”ing. For example, when we host Thanksgiving, Teddy is not required to be in the rooms with all the people the whole time. He can hide out in his bedroom with a timer for a while, but then he has to join the group for a while (usually with a timer) and we go back and forth like that. He needs practice with groups of people, but it gets overwhelming quickly. This strategy helps integrate my husband’s need to celebrate holidays with his family and our son’s need to get a break from the overwhelm of too many people in his home.

We’ve completely let go of most Christmas “should”s. We should go enjoy some of the holiday events in our community…but there are so many germs and honestly few of our family really enjoy those things.  We should go to Christmas Eve service…but so many people go to church on Christmas Eve when they’re sick and it isn’t worth getting the flu for. We should visit more far-flung family…but travel is hard and I really don’t enjoy it.

Instead, we focus on activities that we all enjoy and that are realistic for our family at this phase in our lives. We make Christmas cookies, because all three kids (plus an extra kid who lives next door!) really enjoy this activity and it’s doable for me without too much stress. We do a handful of Christmas crafts, but we abandon them quickly if the kids aren’t interested. We watch a lot of Christmas movies and we have a good time with snack food while we decorate our Christmas tree.

Picture of a little girl looking at a large book while reclining with her mom.

It’s easy to think we should have more decorations, but we don’t enjoy the process of decorating, we really don’t enjoy the process of un-decrating, and extra decorations don’t add anything to our daily happiness… so we don’t do it. I used to think we should do more service projects over the holidays, since that’s the thing to do, but it’s actually easier for us to do service projects and volunteering when it is NOT Christmas – and service organizations are usually in more need of volunteers at other times of the year, anyway. Maybe we should spend more time with extended family, but it’s better for us as a family to spend that time together with just us. We don’t get enough relaxed “just us” time as it is. Most people believe they should keep presents a secret. But that doesn’t always work for us. Knowing there are secret presents in the house REALLY bugs Teddy. So we let him know what some of his presents are in advance, and keep the rest a super secret. Once he knows what a few of them are, he’s less anxious about the whole present thing and can enjoy the anticipation.

This is what works for our family. What works for your family? Why don’t you try letting go of all the “shoulds” of the holiday season and give yourself the freedom to find out?

Pinnable image with Remaking the Holidays text and christmas presents

Exercising in the hospital

We just passed 1 year since Teddy’s last inpatient stay in September! Whoohoo!

So, fortunately, I haven’t had to exercise in a hospital in over a year. But I’ve certainly had plenty of times when I needed to.

Exercising while you’re in the hospital with your child has so many benefits. It actually does help keep your spirits and your energy up. Sitting around a boring hospital room all day does nothing good for your mental health, especially if you’re there for weeks or months at a time. I also find that doing healthy things for me while we’re inpatient is also a huge mental boost – I am Doing Something Healthy For Me, Yay Me!

Plus, the obvious physical benefits of getting regular movement and exercise. Many people stress eat in the hospital; exercise will help counteract that. (I stress eat veggies in the hospital, which I know is really weird, but I also tend to hit the sugary beverages and carb-loaded snacks a little heavy, as well.) Plus, unless you specifically make an effort to move around during the day, it’s way too easy to spend the entire day just sitting.

But HOW can you exercise in the hospital?

This is NOT SILLY

I would suggest that first you need to get over the idea of looking silly. This is NOT the weirdest thing your child’s providers have ever seen. Also, I’m not suggesting here that you exercise to the point that you are a sweaty, red-faced mess. Feel free if you like. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

Walking

If you can leave your child’s room, go for a walk. If they can leave with you, plop them in a wheelchair, carrier, or stroller and bring them along. Walk as briskly as you can without being rude to others in the hallway. Your individual hospital policies will vary, and your individual hospital will vary. We’ve had times we’ve only been able to pace up and down a rather short hallway. We’ve also had times we were able to slip away from the unit and walk outside. Walk as much as you can. We usually go for 2-3 walks a day when we’re inpatient if we’re able to leave the room. It kills time, it gives us something else to look at, and it feels good. (Let’s not talk about how many times I use those walks to buy a scotcharoo.)

Stretching and Yoga

If you do yoga, it’s pretty easy to adapt to a hospital room. If you don’t do yoga, you could start! There are YouTube channels with beginner yoga routines – pop one on and give it a try! If you’re not into yoga (I’m not), just a plain ol’ stretching routine can feel really good on a body that’s stressed. Don’t push anything, just gently stretch out your muscles. I try to make it a point to do this at least once a day while inpatient.

Resistance Exercise

I find muscle-building exercises to be easier to do inpatient than aerobic exercise. I try to keep an exercise band in my hospital suitcase for resistance, but even without that, there’s pushups, situps/crunches, leg raises, squats, etc. (I’m typing this post in the outpatient infusion clinic and I’ve just done a set of squats and lunges to wake myself up a little!) I’ve been adding quite a few ideas to my Hospital Life board on Pinterest if you need help getting started.

Keeping it Private

If you want to minimize the chances of being “caught” exercising, consider these strategies.

  • Post a note outside your child’s room to please knock, mom is exercising inside. (This is far less embarrassing than the note I used to put out, which was “please come back later, mom is showering inside with the bathroom door open.” Teddy would freak out if I shut the bathroom door.)
  • Find a private parent room. Most hospitals have family break rooms, but some hospitals have little private rooms just for you. Sometimes these rooms are intended for sleeping, but as long as you’re being quiet, there’s no reason not to use this room for exercising.
  • Hit the gym. Some hospitals have on-site gyms for family use. Our primary hospital has a gym in the next building that parents can use for free. I’ve never taken advantage of this, but I know parents who have and they’ve enjoyed the break from the hospital as much as the exercise itself.

Ummm…People are Staring…

Have you ever been out with your special needs or medically complex child and noticed someone staring? Or felt like someone was staring?

OF COURSE you have.

We all have.

But what should you do about it?

My take on this issue might be different from many, but I say let ’em stare.

“But it makes my kid feel bad!!”

But it doesn’t need to.

I personally make a conscious choice to assume that people are staring because they’re completely blown away by our awesomeness. And I teach my children this attitude both with my words and with my actions.

Whatever the situation. This is not limited to special needs or medical issues, lol.

We live our lives and if people want to look, well, it must be because we’re so amazing they can’t help themselves.

The truth is probably that they’re just curious. As common as public meltdowns, tube feeding, and suction machines might seem to those of us living this life, most people have never actually seen a feeding pump, or a trach, or a child who is so anxious about some tiny thing that they cannot possibly move on from it in that moment. And, like every single one of us, they look.

And be honest. You stare, too. “oh, I would never!” eh. Most of us stare. Not meanly. But we do. I catch myself watching children struggling in public – or, actually, watching their parents. I try to give a wink or a nod of solidarity, but there’s not always the chance. But the truth is, I’m taking mental notes. “oh, that’s a good thing to say. I should try that next time.” I stare at people with fancy accessories for their equipment. “ooo, look at how they have that attached to her backpack. That’s a good idea.”  I stare at little kids wearing mini backpacks – and, as it turns out, 95% of them are just backpacks and not feeding pump backpacks, lol. Sometimes I’m looking at people simply in an effort to give a nonverbal “hey, us, too” but we don’t ever make eye contact. They probably walk away thinking “man, that lady was so rude!”

It’s NORMAL to look at things that stand out. And it’s actually a good thing, in the big picture. We WANT people to look at things that are out of the norm. A kid screaming at the park brings unwanted stares if your kid is screaming because of a meltdown, but so, so wanted if they’re screaming because a stranger is trying to drag them into their car. I WANT adults around us to look if my kid starts throwing a fit – I want them to look at least enough to determine that the situation is safe and under control.

Taking a second look at things that seem out of the norm is a self-protective feature of humans – and it’s actually something I actively teach my children to do. If something looks out of place, look at again, and look until you’ve either categorized it as unconcerning, or you’ve determined that it is concerning and you’ve implemented a plan to deal with it.

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I grew up with a mom who was a Type 1 diabetic, diagnosed in the late 1950s. She got her first insulin pump back when insulin pumps first became available (one of the first in the country to get one). Back then, they were huge, ugly things. It came in a giant black case that looked like a weird, hard-sided gun holster. And my mom loved it. It was such an improvement over self-injecting. She loved it so much that if she caught people looking at it, she’d tell them what it was and what it was doing for her and she’d take off the cover and she’d show it to them. She’d give them a whole education about diabetes and insulin. People were staring? GREAT! Because this insulin pump is amazing and they should learn all about it!! They SHOULD stare at this marvel of technology that is letting me live so I can see my children grow up.

People would regret being caught staring sometimes – not because she had crafted the perfect verbal zinger to hurl at them, but because her enthusiasm about her insulin pumps far outweighed their interest. (She was a teacher not just by vocation but by calling.)

I credit that attitude on her part for helping me, all these years later, deal with staring with my child in such a positive way. I’m not into talking to strangers like she was. I’m not even that into talking to people I know. I’ll answer questions if people ask them, but I’m not going to approach people and start gushing about my kid’s feeding pump, for example. But I carry her enthusiastic attitude about medical equipment that improves lives with me, and I carry her “staring? of course they’re staring, this is awesome!!” attitude with me, too.

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(I would be remiss if I didn’t note that often, we FEEL like people are staring, but nobody is, in fact, staring. I have had so many times when whatever I’m doing FEELS so weird and unusual that I’m certain people must be staring. Whether I was breastfeeding in public, dealing with vomit in public, or handling a beeping feeding pump, it felt like people surely MUST be staring. But if I took a moment to pause what I was doing and glance around, I was reassured to find that, in fact, nobody was paying us any attention. So if you feel like you’re sticking out like a sore thumb, and everyone must surely be staring, sometimes it’s good to take a moment and look around – perhaps you’ll find that nobody around you really cares, after all!)

Tips for Surviving a Long Clinic Day with your Child

We drive a fair distance to see specialists (depending on which specialists, 2 hours or 10 hours) and appreciate it when they coordinate schedules to see us on the same day to cut down on driving time, gas, etc. But that can result in some LONG days hanging around a hospital. Here are our top tips for surviving those long days.

1. Pack Wisely

I prefer a medium sized backpack because that’s what I find the most comfortable, but you do what works best for you. Whatever type of bag you choose, keep your things easy to find. I use my small and medium wet bags to keep things organized in my backpack, so when I need to grab, for example, supplies to start a meal with the feeding pump, they’re all in one place together. Any children who come with you who are old enough to carry their own things should carry their own things, as well.

It also bears considering the weather and any other extenuating circumstances. During sketchy weather, I tend to bring the whole medication box and a few days of tube feeding supplies as well as a complete change of clothes and a toothbrush – if a snowstorm blows through sooner than expected, or what was supposed to be rain turns to ice or a tornado, we will have the supplies we need to hunker down overnight, rather than having to push through.

2. Make a list, check it twice

Obviously, you need to bring all of the things you need for the day, plus all of the things you MIGHT need for the day. And though you’ve maybe packed for a day away from home a billion times, if your clinic day involves leaving the house at the crack of dawn or earlier like ours do, you might want to make a list instead of relying on your memory. I pack up as much as I can the night before, then make a list of the things that aren’t packable – meds that need to go in the cooler, for example, or some hot coffee for me.

3. Different bags for different jobs

I like to pack a clinic bag (that I take in with me), a car bag (which holds supplies for use in the car or for keeping in the car as backup), and an emergency bag (this bag actually lives in the car and has supplies we’d need if we have car trouble or unexpected weather delays our return home). We also usually take a cooler, not only for the meds that need to stay cool, but so that we have nice cool drinks when we get back to the car, and to hold snacks that are better cool. And for many years, every clinic day I also loaded up our hospital suitcase, which had supplies to last a week inpatient.

It bears mentioning that in the winter, we also bring a bag that has a complete set of extra winter supplies for everyone, and I also usually throw our coveralls into the car. Again in case of unexpected weather or car trouble.

Two bags on an asphalt roadPhoto by Dids from Pexels

4. Snacks, Lunch, and Water

Pack snacks. Lots of snacks. If you’re leaving early, pack breakfast. If at all possible, make something like a breakfast sandwich for every oral eater and heat it up as you walk out the door for some nice protein to start your day. Make sure your snacks have protein, as well. Have a solid plan for lunch – either pack it or plan to buy it there. And bring drinks – preferably water, but I know I sometimes need either the sugar or the flavor of non-water drinks to make it through clinic days. I try to stick with herbal iced teas, but won’t lie that I sometimes pack myself a root beer for the drive home. In the winter, I sometimes pack myself a hot tea bag and get myself a cup of hot water from the coffee machines for a nice hot tea treat between appointments. When I was bringing the older kids, I’d often pack a hot chocolate mix packet and let them split it between appointments. A little treat tends to go a long way when you’ve got a long boring day.

5. The Car bag

My car bag has a handful of snacks for all the oral eaters, extra water bottles, some rags, DVDs, a few extra diapers, a change of clothes for me and for any children who might need it, emergency supplies like a spare bag for the feeding pump, a shelf stable meal (or cold meal if we’ve brought the cooler) for everyone who’s coming, and any other supplies we may need that we don’t want to carry with us. The shelf stable meals – I can’t tell you how many times we’ve ended up eating them. We can’t always afford to buy food for everyone from the cafeteria, but many clinic days have dragged on much longer than expected and left us starving and needing more than our lunch and snacks. Heat and eat food to the rescue! (We usually bring one or two of those microwave single mac and cheese bowls, a can of spaghettios, and a shelf stable pasta meal.) I also always pack a few of my emergency chocolates. (I hoard a specific type of chocolate that’s only available during the Christmas season, and I always have a few of these in my car bag for the drive home. I don’t really drink, but these are like my version of wine. Bonus: I can enjoy while driving.)

6. Electronics

If you use electronics, long clinic days are the time to get those out. Whether you have tablets or portable DVD players, electronics can help fill hours in the car, hours in the waiting room, and hours in the doctor rooms.

A boy plays on a Kindle in an exam room

7. Audio books or Podcasts

If your child/children will listen to audio books, pick something you can all enjoy together. If your child/children will not listen to audio books, pick something you’ll enjoy while you drive. I have read so many books this way, over nearly 8 years of driving to and from clinic appointments. It gives my mind something to do so it doesn’t go into auto pilot too bad while I drive.

8. Car Games

If your child is capable of playing car games, they can be a great way to fill the time in the car together. I’m Thinking Of, I Spy, Alphabet Games, Would you Rather, 20 Questions, etc. are all great to do in the car and easy enough to do while driving. Parents magazine has a decent list of car games here. These games are also great for waiting for the doctor, as well, as long as your child can quickly transition to another activity when the doctor comes in.

9. Prizes and Activities

I don’t pack a prize for one-appointment days, but for long days, I usually pack some sort of small, cheap, new toy, or an old toy that’s been forgotten for a while. I try to find something that will be engaging for longer than a few seconds. Pullback cars are always a hit with my kiddo, for example. If your kid’s into crafts, bringing the parts needed for a non-messy craft or two would be awesome. Bring a printout of a Lego creation and the bricks needed to make it, or some How To Draw The Thing Your Kid Likes instructions, as well as some art paper and drawing supplies. Some kids are really into coloring or activity books. Obviously you’ll bring activities your kid likes to do, but try to also bring something you can realistically pull off as being a Prize (or a surprise). We usually pull out the Prize after the first appointment. It’s just a little extra something to look forward to on an otherwise boring and sometimes icky day.

10. Work on rules for when the doctor comes in

We have a rule that when a doctor is in the room, kids get my attention nonverbally and they refrain from obnoxious behavior. This is a goal, and it isn’t always achieved. But I do remind them every time we are waiting for a doctor. “What’s the rule for when the doctor comes in?” Make it clear what the expectation is and remind them as necessary.

Mom and boy playing go fish

11. Help older siblings learn to navigate the hospital

Older siblings can start learning how to navigate the hospital on their own. Help them notice where the signs are, the name of the place where you are, how you got there, etc. Point out where the bathrooms are when you walk by them. If you feel safe enough, and if your kids are old enough and well enough behaved, they can go places – even if it’s just back to the waiting room – on their own while you and the kid the appointment’s for stay in the “doctor room.”

12. Your child is a child. Your child’s doctor chose pediatrics.

Your child is a child. They’re going to act like a child. They’re not going to sit quietly and wait while you and the doctor talk, especially after a long car trip. Even if they’re being pretty good, they still make noise. Play is often noisy. They aren’t going to always cooperate with everything the doctor wants to do, either. And it’s fine. Your child’s doctors chose pediatrics. Everyone they see all day is a child. Are some children more cooperative and better behaved than yours? Yep. But so what? Any pediatrician who judges you or your child based on behavior during long, stressful days isn’t probably worth your time. But most peds doctors are pretty accustomed to talking over background noise, to getting down on the floor to address a child, to coaxing cooperation from a reluctant child. Your kid’s a kid. It’s ok.

13. Exercise between appointments

Sometimes, we find that clinics want us to wait in the doctor room for the next doctor, rather than go back to the waiting room. I don’t mind this – I’d rather not have to pack up all our stuff again – but those rooms are SO SMALL and SO PLAIN. They often don’t have windows. Even I get a little stir-crazy. We have never felt an obligation to actually remain in the room, as long as we can SEE our room at all times. Our new Children’s hospital has hallways that are quite deserted most of the time, since staff use back hallways, so I let my kiddo go run wind sprints between appointments. “Run as fast as you can to that chair and then turn around and run back!” or “hop like a bunny until you get to the star on the floor, then turn around and walk like a bird back to me!” Before they remodeled, the hallways were much busier, so we didn’t run, but we did still stretch our legs and walk up and down the hallways. As long as you keep an eye on the door to your room so you can run back when you see someone headed in, this SHOULD be ok. Nobody’s ever said anything to us about our wandering habits, anyway.

14. Find fun things to look at or do between appointments

We do bring between-appointment activities (usually it’s Go Fish cards right now because he’s totally into Go Fish), but we also enjoy exploring and finding interesting things to look at around the hospital, and we also usually seek out the things there are to do at the hospital. Does your hospital have a playground or a playroom? A patient library? Activities? Artwork on the walls? Statues to look at and pose with? New hallways to wander down? Find a map, ask the people who work there, or just wander around a little and see what you can find. One day at Children’s in Cincinnati, we took a picture with as many statues as we could find, for example. One day, I had him pick an elevator and then pick a number, and we got off on that floor and explored, lol. Consider asking other parents for their tips on things to do at your hospital – we discovered, through much wandering, a little cubby in a not-busy waiting room with an Xbox, for example, and that’s where we spent an hour one day.

Young Boy standing next to a Purple Caterpillar Statue

15. Plan a post-clinic reward

Is there a playground nearby? A fun park? A children’s museum or zoo (if you have the energy for something like this after a clinic day)? Is there an inexpensive treat your child likes (like McDonald’s ice cream or a fountain drink from a gas station)? Whatever your kid would enjoy and find rewarding, plan to do it after a long day in clinic. It isn’t a reward for good behavior. It isn’t a bribe. It’s a “we just have to get through x more appointments and then we can (whatever)!” The treat is a given. It cannot be taken away for “bad” behavior. It’s simply a way to recognize that they – and you – made it through the day – whoo hoo!