doctor with patient in hospital

Managing your child’s lengthy hospital stay

Here are some tips for parents when a child has a lengthy hospital stay.

If you know in advance about how long your child will be in the hospital, tell employers and educators as early as possible so they know what is going on. This will make planning and scheduling so much easier for everyone involved. It’s also important to use this time to consider who will help you care for any other children you have or your pets.


Visitors have a great way to help a child not feel so isolated from their families. However, not everyone is able to visit the hospital, so the new age of technology has allowed families and friends to remain connected by phone and social media. Caregivers need to take breaks from being at bedside when a child is having a lengthy hospitalization.  It is perfectly appropriate for family members to take turns being with a child so that the main caregiver can go home and do personal care tasks such as sleeping.

Sending Updates

While family members and friends want to be updated on your child’s status, providing updates can be time-consuming and exhausting. You may want to select one or two key family members or friends who you will directly communicate with and those individuals have a list of individuals to share that information. For long-term medical conditions that have repeat admissions, creating a Facebook page or Care Bridge is a great way to post updates.

Coping with emotions and stress

Emotions and stress are flying high when you have a child who is sick and in the hospital. It is vital that the caregiver be intentional about self-care. Some ways to achieve this are:

  • Taking breaks from the hospital to get rest
  • Walking around the hospital or on the hospital grounds
  • Eating regular meals to keep up your energy
  • Talking with a good friend, child life specialist, social worker or hospital chaplain
  • Visiting the hospital chapel or meditation room
  • Doing relaxing activities like reading, crafts, listening to music, walking or simple exercises
  • Having visitors who are there for the caregiver

Having your child go through surgery and a hospital admission can be stressful. But, being prepared and focusing on self-care as well as the care of your child will help make the experience as pleasant as possible.

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To learn how a certified child life specialist can help you, contact Regina Burdett at UTMB Health Clear Lake Hospital at (832) 632-7721 or Lizette Perez at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston at (409) 772-3424.