A little girl in a hospital bed holds a parent's hand


A Guide To Staying Sane While Your Kid is in The Hospital

Feb 7, 2017

There’s nothing quite so scary as being at a hospital for your kid. In the three or so years since becoming a parent, I’ve spent more time at hospitals than I had in the previous 20. This is not because my kids are unwell — in fact, they are thriving — but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

There’s a lot of uncertainty, and I wish I’d known better what to expect. So here are a few tips on how to best make it through the long hours of hospital time.

Remember To Eat

Bring what you can, meals and snacks. Eat what you can. If you’re there for many hours, a good idea is to leave the hospital and get something that you can’t get in the cafeteria or food court. Eat when you’re hungry. Get your strength when you can. Go easy on sugar, but don’t go without it.

Don't Overdo It On Caffeine

Fight the temptation to drink 20-30 cups of coffee a day. Coffee helps because it makes you feel slightly on edge and ready for something. It is comforting in its agitating way. Again, go easy, but not without.

Try To Sleep

If you’re there overnight, sleep when you can. Sleep is hard because you may not have a bed. But do try to sleep. You will need it.

Seek Out Information

Ask a lot of questions. Doctors are there to help, but they are also very busy. You may only get a few minutes of their time. If you think of a question ahead of time, write it down.

Recommended: On Broken Things And Parenthood

Get Some Air

Go outside for a walk. It can be scary to do this because you’ll be afraid to miss something. But do do it, it is worth it.

Have A Lifeline

Make sure you have someone to reach out to. This can be a challenge because a lot of the people who are close to you will be worried and they will want to know the situation, and you could end up having to take care of them. Make sure you have someone who is there for you.

Find Distractions

This is only possible to a point. You will do a lot of waiting, and you’ll need to take your mind off the stress and worry from time to time. Music is good. TV is good, as long as it offers only the narrowest range of human emotion. Puzzles are good. Movies are probably too long. Books are often too demanding. Avoid the news, it is unreliable.

Arrange Childcare

If you have other kids, the best thing to do is find care for them and let them stay home. It will be better for you, and better for them. Call them when you have a moment, it will be nice to hear their voice.

Don't Forget Hygiene

Clean yourself. Wash your face, brush your teeth. It’s okay to get a little gritty, it will make you feel tough.

Overall, the key is to keep yourself as functional as possible. You probably won’t relax, but you don’t want to wear yourself out. The thing is, not everything turns out okay, but a lot of things do. Remember: there is so much you can’t control, and that’s probably the hardest lesson for a parent to learn.

So take care of yourself. Someone has to.

Article Author Etan Muskat
Etan Muskat

Etan Muskat is a writer, actor and improviser. He is an alumni of The Second City Mainstage in Toronto where he wrote and performed in 4 revues. He is a regular performer and director at the Bad Dog Comedy Theatre and a member of the award-winning Bad Dog Repertory Players. He has toured across the country performing improv, theatre and sketch, and is a regular instructor at both the Second City Training Centre and Bad Dog. In 2009 he co-wrote and directed the acclaimed webseries The Bitter End. He has two children, ages 0 and 3, both unemployed. Etan can be found on Twitter @EtanMuskat.

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