Aside from being a great listener when a friend or family member had a child in hospital, there are some really practical ways to make a difference, and relieve some of the pressures and stress and exhaustion of staying in hospital with a sick, injured or recovering kiddo.
Here are twelve of my favourites.
1. Offer to pick up any other children from school, take them to your place, feed and bathe them and keep them for an overnight, or drop them home at bedtime if there’s another parent at home.
2. Offer to pick up and look after the dog/cat/tortoise/chooks, or at least walk the dog and pick up the poop in the yard.
3. Ask for a spare key, and to go home and pick up some stuff for them – ugg boots, toothbrush, decent pillow, book, the child’s sleeping toy, nail clippers or a phone charger – whatever it is they’ve forgotten or might make things slightly more comfortable.
4. While you’re at their house, clean up a bit, take out the rubbish and the compost bin, check there’s no washing going mouldy in the machine (hang it out!) or just do a few dishes and sweep the floor. Do bring in the mail and take in/out the rubbish bins.
5. Ask if you can visit, and if you can stay and watch their kiddo for a little bit so they can go for a walk outside (fresh air is so important for the sleep deprived, but don’t offer if you’re sick!)).
6. Bring decent food! Fresh stuff – a yiros, some sushi, a salad or soup you made at home, or even just some fresh fruit. (I’ve even snuck in a bottle of vino and a couple of glasses for one frequent flyer Mum)
7. If they’re in for a while, go for a visit, pick up the dirty laundry and return it washed and folded.
8. If their phone is on a pre-pay plan, you could offer to recharge it, or even do it sneakily – you only need to know their number and carrier (which you can see just by looking at the top of the screen on most smartphones) to recharge online.
9. Bring in something to help entertain – a pack of Uno cards, some lego or duplo, a puzzle, a trashy magazine, a sticker book, or an iTunes card.
10. Bring a favourite storybook, and read to the child – the age doesn’t matter – infants to teens – when you’re feeling lousy, sometimes listening to a story is all you can manage. Here’s a good list of read-aloud books divided up by ages/stages: http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/rah-treasury-pic1.html
11. Offer them use of your car for an hour while you visit and watch their kiddo. They can catch up on chores, have a shower at home, or maybe you could even book them a massage! (there are few places on earth where parents get less comfortable sleep, and a sorer back and shoulders, than a parent “bed” in hospital)
12. When you know they’re coming home, buy some milk, fresh bread, a bit of fruit and some chocolate (or whatever you think they might appreciate) and maybe even grab a roast chook and some coleslaw and pop them in the fridge for an easy first dinner home.
by Sam Paior April 2015