Spending the holidays in the hospitals brings an assortment of challenges. These tips, from the doctors and nurses at SecondsCount, have helped other families enjoy their time together. We hope they’ll help you, too.
For the family of a young heart patient, making the most of the “most wonderful time of year” can be a daunting task. Among worries about how your child is doing, keeping traditions going during the holiday season may seem like a stressor you just don’t have time for.
Take heart, though, because those traditions can also bring an important sense of normalcy for you, your child, and your whole family. We asked SecondsCount doctors and nurses for suggestions about how to enjoy the holidays if you’re in the hospital. Here are a few of their tips:
- Decorate. Ask hospital staff what room decorations are permitted. You may be able to do more than you think, such as bringing in a small Christmas tree, hanging garland or a wreath, or putting up strings of lights. If your child is old enough and able to help, involve him or her in making holiday cards or ornaments.
- Keep Family Traditions or Create New Ones. Does your family have religious traditions? Honor those. Do you always watch a favorite holiday program together? Have a movie night. What sets the holidays apart from the rest of the year for your family? Bring the traditions that guide you, or that are fun, with you to the hospital.
- Reach Out to Other Families. You can give the gift of your shared experience to others who are in the hospital during the holidays. Are you an old hand at long hospital stays? Plan a nice gesture for another family in the hospital that has never been through this before. Help your child give a small gift to another patient.
- Preserve Good Memories. Focus on the positive. Create a photo book of your heart adventure—the steps along the way, the people who helped you, and the new friends you made.
- Make Memories Together. Forget winning the neighborhood house-decorating contest this year. Instead, sing Christmas carols with your child, find caring and fun ways to give gifts, or spend an evening together watching The Grinch or Charlie Brown.
- Let Your Community Lend a Hand. All those people who said, “Let me know how I can help,” and meant it? Let them help you. Tell a friend or family member that what you would really like for a holiday gift is for that person to bring a small tree to the hospital (if permitted). Are your Christmas stockings in a box in the attic? Have someone bring them. Letting your friends and families help you can be your gift to them. And don’t forget that your community includes the hospital. Many pediatric units will have holiday activities for the children. Don’t forget to ask about and take advantage of these.
- Remember, Seconds Count. Pause and savor the quiet and peaceful moments together with your child.
As the holidays approach, remember that small gestures count, too. You may need to scale back how you celebrate the holidays while your child is in the hospital, but – take a deep breath – it will be okay. You will still be able to do what matters, which is spend time with the people you love.
From the team at SecondsCount, we wish you a healthy and happy holiday season.