Self-care for Parents and Caregivers

While you can’t get rid of stress altogether, there are ways to help yourself while your child is in the hospital. Even though the experience may be challenging and overwhelming at times, it’s important to take care of yourself so you can take care of your child.

Seek information

You’ll feel better able to cope if you are well-informed. You are your child’s main source of support, so you need to understand your child’s medical condition and information. We encourage you to ask questions and take notes so you understand your child’s care plan.

Questions you may want to ask about your child’s care include: 

  • How long will the procedure or surgery take?
  • What kind of equipment will be used and what will it sound and look like?
  • What kind of preparation does my child need to have before the procedure or surgery?
  • What, if anything, is expected of my child or me?
  • Can I stay with my child for the procedure?
  • How will my child’s pain be managed?
  • What medications will my child take and what are the side effects?
  • Will my child have any dietary or activity restrictions?

Communicate with the medical team

Talk openly with your child’s doctors, nurses and other medical team members. The medical team includes many people who can help you understand your child’s needs during hospitalization, such as social workers, child life specialists and nurses.

Be a part of your child’s care

We encourage you to be involved in your child’s medical care and treatments. When you are caring for your child, it can help you feel calmer in the hospital environment and feel more in control. Please let the staff know your comfort level with helping to provide medical care or if you just want to be your child’s “comfort person.”

Take breaks for yourself

Use the support of family, friends or the medical care team, which includes our trained volunteers, to help you take breaks. Being in the hospital with a child can be emotionally and physically draining. It’s important to make sure you eat and rest so you can care for your child.

Get help and support

Your family and friends can support you while you are in the hospital. Have them help with meals, transportation and childcare for siblings. They can also provide support for your emotional wellbeing. The medical team also includes many people who can help you find support if you need it. Let your care team or nurse know if you need support from a social worker or child life specialist.

Learn how you can help your child

Understanding how you can help your child cope with being in the hospital can help you feel less stressed. Find out more about how you can prepare for your child’s hospital stay.

Contact a child life specialist

For more support, please contact our Child Life office at 859-323-6551 or email us.