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The Importance of Staying Healthy When You Are a Parent with a Sick Child

by Editorial Team | November 19th, 2018 | Elementary

Children get sick all the time, but as any parent can tell you, there is a huge difference between staying at home for a fever and being in the hospital for a life-threatening disease. It shouldn’t happen, but it can, and when it happens to you it will seem like life has completely turned upside down. You don’t have experience in how to care for a sick child, and though that doesn’t mean you won’t be a great parent during this time, it could mean you allow your own health to slip.

From chronic stress to malnutrition, to even just a lack of sleep, here is why it is so important to focus on being your healthiest while your child is at their sickest:

Dangers of Caregiver Burnout  

You are your child’s caregiver day in and day out. It doesn’t change because they are in the hospital, but what you need to do for them will become more demanding. Not to mention how stressful this whole situation is. You might not be the one in hospital, but your heart will break every day they are in there and in pain. This stress, combined with restless sleep and even perhaps forgetting to eat, will lead to burnout or a breakdown. You need to learn more about avoiding this burnout so that you can help your child, rather than cause them duress.

You need to be their rock because everything is going to be scary and confusing to them and they will look to you for support. Be strong for them. Be healthy for them.

How to Stay Healthy

Being healthy is probably the last thing on your mind, but if you think that you are stressed now just wait until you haven’t eaten anything properly in days and have had a poor night’s rest. You cannot be there for your child like they deserve unless you are at your best.

1. Improve The Quality of Your Diet

Try to eat the healthiest foods you can. Fruits and vegetables are a great place to start. If you can, try to eat them as a snack or with every single meal. Then you will need to fill up on carbs. Being stressed and rushing around trying to, say, get things from home to take to the hospital, go to different doctors offices – this will take a lot of energy. Just try to eat carbs that aren’t doused in fats or oils, so more or less boiled or baked food.

2. Try to Cut Down on Vices

Vices can range from smoking to binge eating, but whatever it is you will need to get a handle on it. These addictions can take attention away from your child just when they need it most, and will only hurt your health.

3. Exercise Regularly

Stress can build up, and exercise is a great way to release all of that pent-up energy. Go to the gym for half an hour, do an exercise routine, try out boxing, or whatever suits you. It will be great to help you stay energetic, give you the energy and strength you need, and, of course, is a great way to vent your frustration at your situation.

4. Be Strict with Your Bedtime Routine

Restless nights are very likely, but you can improve your sleep quality simply by being strict with your schedule. Don’t look at your electronics after sunset, take a bath before bed, and try to sleep and wake up at the same time. Your body will help set you on a routine that will allow you to get at least a few hours of rest in between hospital visits.

Work Out a Deal with Your Employer

The importance of work might feel miles away as soon as your child goes to the hospital, but the need for financial stability won’t. Not only do you need to stay employed, but you will also need that income to cover the hospital bills afterward. That being said, forcing yourself to go to work when your mind is with your child isn’t productive, either. Instead, try negotiating a deal with your employer upfront:

• Negotiate for Non-Paid Days Off

If you run out of vacation days and sick days, then see if your employer would be willing to offer non-paid days off, or perhaps take a pay cut so that you can work in the mornings and spend the afternoons with your kid.

• See if You Can Work Remotely When You Need To

Another alternative has only recently been a possibility. If you work in an office that has moved their data to the cloud you could very well work remotely by simply accessing the same login portal you would at work. By negotiating not to take time off, but work in the same house as your child, you can accomplish two birds with one stone.

This will help reduce the overall stress, as you will stay financially stable, and also allow you to manage the stressors in your life.

How to Help Your Child

Now that you have addressed your health and extra stressors in your life, you can then focus all of your energy on helping your child. Try to be optimistic and energetic. Don’t let them see how worried you are because you are the one they are going to look to for answers. It won’t be the doctor or their nurse, but you. Try to figure out ways to explain to them what is happening and what can be done. Be their rock, and they will have the hope they need to stay strong and fight their illness.

No child should ever have to be admitted into the hospital because they are sick, but it does happen. When it does, you need to be strong for them. Just as a child will look to their parent when they scrape their knee to gauge how bad it is, so too will your child look at you when they hospitalized. By staying calm, optimistic, and strong, you will help them be strong too.

Brought to you by our friend, Carol.

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