60 Tips and Tricks for Hospital Stays!

You all have to stay in the hospital more than you’d like. Here is a list of 60 tips and tricks from parents just like you! We even had a few warriors throw in their best suggestions!

*Please check with your local hospital for any specific rules and regulations

1.     To take care of your child, you have to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Take time to walk, shower, eat, exercise, stretch, and take deep breaths. (Try keeping most of your clothes in the car to make yourself take a daily early morning walk and get coffee / breakfast before your child wakes up.)

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2.     Create a memory every day by making the most of the “best days”.

3.     Smile whenever you can; your child will mirror your mood and actions.

4.     Bring a gaming system to hook up to the in-room TV (also for Netflix, Hulu etc.); Nurses will often play the games with you!

5.     Bring your own DVD’s and DVD player if the hospital does not provide it.

6.     Take music and a way to play it (like a small speaker) – day time fun music and night time quiet music, nature sounds, white noise, etc. to help cut out some of the hospital noises. You can even play your warrior’s night time music on repeat all night long. It is relaxing to the nurses and aids when they come for rounds too.

7.     Bring a Nerf gun to harass your doctors or pretend to vomit into a barf bag when the nurse walks in. (A little tip from a fellow warrior J )

8.     If your hospital has it, play the games broadcasted on the hospital channel (like trivia and bingo).

9.     Utilize the hospital benefits like the play area/community rooms when special guests are present and volunteers that will come sit with your child to give you a short break to shower, take a walk, or even run out for items from home or a meal from outside the hospital.

10.  Visit the family kitchen each morning or the coffee cart in the afternoon to meet your next-door neighbors and socialize a bit with other parents.

11.  Bring a mattress topper/air mattress/cot, lots of pillows, and your own blanket or sleeping bag (easy to swap out with clean ones from the car).

12.  Bring our own hand soap to try and fight dry hands.  This breaks up the hospital smell (for dry hands and smell).

13.  Decorate the room with pictures, posters, removable wall decals, window markers, etc! - If it’s close to a holiday, bring themed decorations.

14.  Pack an extension cord for hard to reach outlets.

15.  Bring fun items like nail polish because event if you feel terrible, your toes can always look pretty J.

16.  Purchase your own wifi connection/hotspot (gaming and streaming shows can be difficult with spotty wifi, this gives you your own connection).

17.  Pokemon Go is a fun past time for us the whole family.  If your child is allowed out of their room, you can walk the halls, get the pokéstops, and battle the gyms all together on your phones.

18.  If you have a projector, bring that with a large sheet to hang up and be the screen. Pop some popcorn in the family kitchen and have your own big screen production!

19.  Have your ID number ready at check in.

20.  Put a few throw up bags in your car; easy to get from hospital.

21.  Always call your nurse; good to over communicate on anything. 

22.  Drink plenty of water ahead of appt - good to have a water bottle.

23.  Know your nurses; who is good with the IV pokes?

24.  Have a 'to go' bag/tub filled with hospital room only stuff for parents and warriors: snacks, socks, Kleenex, mask, change of PJs or a week’s worth of clothes (depending on how long your stays usually are), sweatshirt, knit hat (helps with warrior headaches and the cold), sleep mask, slippers, stuffed animal, toiletries (don’t forget chapstick and a contact case with solution if you need!), hair dryer, books, puzzles, pillow, blanket, games, etc. (Make it extra fun by letting your warrior decorate the top!)

25.  Have a list of prescriptions, doctor names, and last blood results ready to speed through the long Q&A.

26.  Bring something to do while waiting: books, games, cards, etc.

27.  Pack some mints, gum, gummy bears, etc. for when your warrior gets a bad taste in their mouth.

28.  Bring your favorite coffee creamer or milk to keep it in the fridge for your morning coffee and to share with parents if you want!

29.  Get a cute door sign that informs the hospital staff if your child is sleeping, watching tv, down in the community room, etc.

30.  Keep a stock of frozen microwave meals at home for unexpected hospital stays when you don’t have time to run to the grocery store first. 

31.  If your hospital doesn’t provide one already, ask to create a face sheet when you arrive. Check it every time you’re admitted (this will help with continuity of care). You can post a copy at the head of your child's bed. 

32.  Embrace the stay remembering your warrior is at the hospital because he/she is sick/injured.  Remember…the doctors and staff are doing their best to help your warrior get better.

33.  Help your warrior to stay positive.

34.  Plan a special, realistic celebration when your warrior is discharged.

35.  Take your phone charger! Don’t forget any other electronic cords.

36.  If you use an icepack for aches and pains – bring a labeled one to put in the family freezer.

37.  Create something to keep siblings connected. For example, find matching stuffed animals that each one has.

38.  Ask for a set of sheets and blanket for yourself to put on the couch/chair for sleeping if you weren’t able to bring your own.

39.  Be up, dressed and ready to talk to the doctors for morning rounds. The nurse can tell you approximately what time that will be.

40.  If you do not understand what you are being told or the doctor is talking too fast, ask them to slow down or explain so you can understand. It’s okay to ask questions.

41.  Keep a note pad to jot down any questions that you think of throughout the day/night so you can ask the doctor when you see him/her.  Record day/night nurses names.

42.  If your warrior does not like to hear you talking with the doctor, go just outside the room to talk in the hall.

43.  Make cards and pictures for your nurses/doctors. It makes everyone happy! Or make a “take a compliment” poster…the kind that has little tabs cut at the bottom so you can tear one off and keep it. Make sure to tell anyone who came in your room to take a compliment!

44.  Take pictures of your warrior with his/her favorite nurses and doctors.

45.  If your family fridge has a time limit on food, make sure to update the date stickers if you have food that lasts past the limit.

46.  Give your warrior a choice of hospital gown or PJs from home…maybe even new PJ’s if possible.

47.  For you and your warrior – put PJs on at night for sleeping and get dressed in the morning! Wear comfy clothes and shoes.

48.  Take a shower everyday…let your nurse know so he/she can listen extra close if your warrior calls. You can ask for towels or bring towels and toiletries from home.

49.  If your hospital has dry erase boards in the room, bring your own dry erase markers for you and staff to use…the hospital ones often disappear.

50.  Make sure lovies are not in the sheets when you change the sheets and put them in the laundry bin. If a lovie accidentally takes a ride in the laundry bin/shoot, make sure you notify your nurse ASAP so housekeeping can retrieve it!

51.  Journal. You can use this as an opportunity to write down the happy moments or as a chance to let out emotions that you have not been able to release.

52.  If you can see the parking lot from your room, have visitors park on the top level of the garage and wave to you when they get to their car so your warrior can see from their room.

53.  Put something BIG on your window so visitors can easily find your room. During our first looong visit, we had the word “HOPE” in huge letters on our window so it could be read from outside. Folks could see it from the highway! It even made the staff smile.

54.  Be present to your warrior. Cry with him/her, laugh with him/her, soothe him/her, encourage him/her, just hold him/her.

55.  If you have concerns, ask for guidance/help. Talk to nurses, doctors, Child Life specialist, psychologists, physical therapists, social workers, etc. If you don’t know who or what to ask…voice that to a nurse or Child Life specialist or social worker, and they will direct you.

56.  Look out the windows of your warrior’s room and the lounges. Look for familiar and unfamiliar buildings and landmarks. Point things out to your warrior. Watch the sunrises and sunsets.

57.  For long stays, bring plastic containers with drawers for clothes instead of living out of a suitcase

58.  If your warrior is a light sleeper, bring them ear plugs and an eye mask to help them stay asleep.

59.  A good lotion is great for dry hands from all of the washing and sanitizing

60.  Keep a notebook handy to keep track of meds, procedures, questions, and anything else that you need to jot down.

Jessie Swygert