Friday, October 16, 2015

8 Ways To Help When A Child Is Hospitalized

This is an older post that was originally published on the CHEO Moms and Dads blog.  I decided to post it here for my readers as most of you probably don't even know what CHEO is (it is our local Children's Hospital) so probably have not read it before.  While I have this for when kids are in hospital, they really could be tips for when any family member is.

When Mr. J was in the NICU, I didn't have a lot of contact with my friends. I think they maybe didn't know what to do or say, so they just kind of stayed away. I wasn't upset - I can understand, it's hard and they have their own lives.  When I did talk to people, they often asked what they could do to help, but I didn't have an answer.

To be honest, at the time I didn't really know how to respond when people DID ask what we needed. It would have been much better for someone to have just DONE something, or offered to do something specific.

If you know someone that has a child in hospital - here are a few tips on how you can help:

  1. child care (look after other children that they may have - and make it FUN! the kids need help too)
  2. making meals (they still need to eat, but may not have time to make something healthy or the desire to cook, being able to heat something quick will help them a great deal). Snacks are a great option as well (muffins, protein bars)
  3. household chores - unfortunately chores still need to be done even when you are not home most of the time.  Vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and laundry.  Shoveling snow, raking leaves and cutting grass.  Our neighbour cut our grass when Mr. J was at CHEO and it really helped.  Hubby kept thinking about the yard and it needing to be done, but was exhausted (mentally and physically)and came home from work one day all set to cut the grass, only to find out it had been taken care of.  It was something that we both really appreciated.
  4. make a hospital package (a tote filled with snacks, drinks, magazines, books and GC's to the hospital restaurants/coffee shops)
  5. be company for them - if they need someone to sit with for a half hour OR if they want to grab a shower but don't want their child alone, you could sit in the room for them.
  6. just being there. Call, email, text - whatever you can...while they may not be able to respond immediately, knowing you are thinking about them will help to lift their spirits. Having a child in the hospital can be pretty isolating. 
  7. take care of pets. Walking, feeding, playing with any of their animals will probably be a big help as well.
  8. offer a drive. I had delivery complications and was not comfortable driving. I had a few family members and a friend give me lifts into the hospital (hubby had to work since we still had bills that needed to be paid) and it was so wonderful.  They would drive me in and then read a book while I was with Mr. J. It did, and still does, mean the world to me
Don't be offended if they don't take you up on any of your offers. It is very difficult to accept help sometimes, but the offer itself will be extremely appreciated

Do you have any other tips?

More posts that might interest you:

CHEO NICU winter driving parenting is hard parents death


  1. My kids were born premature and were in the hospital for 6 and 8 weeks. We required all the help you mentioned above.

    One tip that I would give (even though it's not exactly related) is to not ask questions about the child. Stick to asking questions about us and let us know that you're thinking about our child.

    I know that it's hard but we live our childs life and death situations every.single.minute and really don't want to talk about it. If we do, we'll bring it up.

    Besos Sarah
    Journeys of The Zoo

  2. Good points by Sarah too. I know she has some serious experience with this. I think we underestimate how traumatic this experience is for family. Help with the other children and don't ask what can I do? That puts onus on the person who is already stressed. Just say hey I will pick up Aaron from school every day this week or something like that.

  3. Some very good tips here, everyone needs help in a situation like this. It must be marvellous to get a meal from someone so that you don't have to waste your precious time on cooking, or perhaps someone can clean for them. I remember well how grateful I was when 3 friends took turns cleaning my flat when I was pregnant and not allowed to do much at all due to the danger involved. My friends were a Godsend.

  4. Great tips! My son spent years in and out of CHEO and out local hospital. It's very hard on everyone, including those looking in. They want to help and I know they don't think we notice, but we do. Someone to keep the errands/bills caught up. I really couldn't even think of my hydro or gas bill when I was at CHEO with my son, I was just scared.

  5. This is a wonderful post Ashley. Even though some may think it will be obvious what a family needs if this situation should happen to them, it really isn't. These helpful ideas would alleviate so much for the family in need.

  6. My first was in NICU when he was first born and I think the most important thing to me was knowing that he as well as my husband and I had the support and love of our families who were there every minute they could be. Our parents would always have coffee or food in their arms when they came and an ear to listen. That in itself was enough for us.

  7. I know I've been guilty of the "Let me know if there's anything I can do to help." This is a great list of suggestions, Ashley.

  8. These are great tips! Thanks for sharing. My friend's son was just in hospital (for a few days, I think) and it was hard to be a province away and unable to help. Although even if I'd been there, I'm not sure what I would have done, so this is such a helpful list. :) Thanks!

  9. This is a really great post! Unfortunately not everybody has family and friends who are understanding or willing to understand (my in laws are a great example of that when our son was born 3 months premature in 2008), they should read this! 👍🏻


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