Mother hand holding child hand who have IV solution in the hospital

Hospital Stays are Hard!

Be sure to take care of yourself too

Having a loved one in the hospital can be incredibly stressful, no matter who you are. Your focus is understandably on them, which means you’re likely not taking care of yourself. 

But here’s the thing — you need to take care of yourself to take care of them. If you’re not at your best, it makes it a lot harder to make sound decisions and even to maintain your composure when you’re around them. This is especially important when you’re caring for a little one, who may not understand what is going on or why they’re in the hospital.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind. Yes, we realize most of them are the same as the health tips we would recommend if you weren’t in crisis, but they’re especially important when you are. 

  • Sleep: We cannot overestimate the importance of getting good sleep, and we do understand how difficult this can be when you have so many things to think about. This is just one of the reasons why we put so much emphasis on creating comfortable, peaceful bedrooms at RMHCNN and a quiet space at the RMHC Family Room. If racing thoughts are keeping you awake, consider asking a nurse or your care team for advice.
  • Eat healthy: Again, it’s easy to forget about your own health needs when you’re focused on your child, but eating healthy will help you stay more alert, less sluggish and just feel better overall. At RMHCNN, we have warm meals available every evening. And we offer healthy grab and go snacks you can take to the hospital with you, or pick up at the RMHCNN Family Room and the RMHCNN Hospitality Cart.
  • Drink water: This one is actually pretty easy to do, if you remember. We know coffee or sodas may seem like the answer during those long days and nights, but be sure to drink water in the hospital, in your room and whenever you can. Keeping hydrated is crucial for maintaining energy levels and overall health. Let us know if you need a water bottle to take with you in the morning, and we’ll see what we can do to help out.
  • Move about: This is especially important if your loved one is going to be in the hospital for an extended stay. While you do want to be near your child as much as possible, it’s important to take short breaks to walk around, as movement helps reduce stress and keeps your body active.
  • Breathe. Take moments throughout the day to practice deep breathing, as it helps manage stress and keeps you centered. There are several free apps you can download to help you focus on your breathing, like: 
  • Keep your phone charged. Speaking of phones, between texting friends with updates and hours playing Candy Crush, your phone will die fast. Be sure to plug it in when you get back to your room. And consider purchasing a portable charger to carry with you — though you’ll need to remember to keep it charged as well. 
  • Accept help. When your friends and family members ask what they can do to help, give them something to do. It could be checking on your pets, managing the family and friends text chain or picking you up and taking you to lunch. Or maybe you need help researching to find out what your insurance covers or gathering paperwork. They want to help, and you need help. Let them. 
  • Appoint a spokesperson. When you have a child in the hospital, there are usually many people who care and want updates, but that can put extra pressure on you. Consider choosing someone you trust to give updates to, and let them know what they can share with everyone else. Then stay out of it, seriously, tell them to take you off that text chain! This lets you focus on your little one, while taking care of yourself.
  • Be nice to the hospital staff. Stress and lack of sleep can lead to short tempers. Remember, hospital staff are working hard to care for your child and other families’ children as well. A little kindness and patience go a long way.

When you’re tempted to ignore all this advice, remember that by taking care of yourself, you’re better equipped to support your loved one through their hospital stay and afterward.