Self-Care When Caring for a Child in the Hospital

Parents don’t plan for their child to be diagnosed with a serious illness. When it does occur, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and distraught. Typically, a parent’s first instinct is to care and protect their child, putting them first – which often means neglecting to prioritize their own care. 

While it’s impossible to eliminate the stress of caring for a sick child, there are many ways to cope and  improve your self-care during this challenging time. 

Here are four ways to take care of yourself while tending to a child in the hospital.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

It’s hard to ask for help when you feel isolated and overwhelmed, but relying on your extended network for support can help ease the stress of caregiving. Friends and family can offer support in many ways including babysitting other children, cooking meals, or running errands. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your loved ones for a helping hand – they want to help – sometimes you just have to open the door and let them in.

Remember your basic necessities 

You may be tempted to skip meals or stay up late at night while your child is in the hospital. However, the saying that “you can’t pour from an empty cup” rings true here. Remembering to tend to your basic needs will give you the energy you need to take care of yourself and your family. 

Look for creative ways manage stress 

Many parents avoid self-care due to feelings of guilt when taking time away from tending to their child. But to better care for your child, it’s important to designate a few minutes each day to de-stress. Journaling your thoughts, exercising and meditating, or even having a cup of your favorite tea are a few options. There are many ways to relieve your stress; finding a routine that works for you and activities you enjoy is the place to start.

Take breaks

Stepping away from the hospital room to take a walk or to get fresh air can help. Studies have shown that walking promotes the release of endorphins, which can increase relaxation, and ultimately improve your mood. The next time you have a free moment― perhaps when your child is sleeping or undergoing treatment― consider going for a quick stroll to clear your mind and elevate your spirits. 

Receiving support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Antonio

At Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Antonio, we make it our mission to support families at every step of the way. We offer families a home away from home so that they can stay close to the care they need when a child is sick or critically ill. With your help, we can continue taking care of parents and families, while they take care of their loved ones. Give now to help families focus on healing together.