Learn how to make the hospital stay brighter when your child can’t come home for the holidays.
When someone you love has to spend the holidays in the hospital, it’s hard for the whole family. But when that someone is your child, it can be especially hard. And whether your family celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, being away from home during the festivities can be traumatic for a child. So if your child can’t be at home for the holiday, why not bring the holiday to the hospital?
Making the season bright
Being in the hospital doesn’t mean your child has to miss out on the fun. Hospitals normally work with families to make the holidays special. Check with the hospital staff about their specific policies before you start planning. Then try these suggestions:
- Ask other family members and friends to visit. Have them try to see your child often during the holidays.
- Spruce up the hospital room. Ask the nursing staff what types of decorations are allowed.
- Create a festive mood. Play holiday music, watch holiday videos, and drink hot chocolate if your child’s diet allows.
- Work on crafts together. Bring in a kit for making a gingerbread house. Give your child glue, glitter, crayons, and construction paper to create greeting cards, ornaments, pictures, and decorations for the room.
- Enjoy the festivities. Ask your child’s nurse or other staff members about special holiday events taking place in the hospital.
- Encourage your child’s classmates to visit if he or she is allowed company. Ask your child’s teacher to let parents know their children are welcome.
- Bring special treats. Holiday cookies, candy canes, and chocolate coins will bring a smile to your child’s face. Check with your doctor about any food restrictions first.
- Bring your family’s gifts to the hospital. And open them up there.
- Bring along your holiday meals, from a pancake breakfast to a special dinner. Most hospitals have kitchen areas with microwaves. You can cook ahead of time and heat your holiday feast there. If your child is on a special diet, make sure you plan a menu he or she can enjoy, too.
- Another option: Delay your family celebration until your child comes home. Bring a special meal and a few gifts to the hospital to observe the holiday, but save your traditional celebration for your child’s homecoming.
Hospitals usually offer a variety of holiday activities for kids. Let your child take part in them. Some of these may include:
- Decorating parties with crafts, tree trimming, and activities for children from various cultures
- Parties celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa with holiday food and fun activities
- Visits from carolers who roam the hallways and stop in to visit patients
- Christmas visits from Santa, who brings stockings and toys to children’s rooms
Talking to your child
Your child may have special concerns about what to expect during the holidays. He or she may worry about being left alone while you celebrate at home. Make it clear that you’ll bring the holiday to the hospital and he or she won’t miss out. Then let your child share in the planning.
Another big worry for kids in the hospital is that Santa won’t be able to find them because they’re not at home. Let your child know that Santa will definitely bring his or her gifts either to the hospital or your house, and that although the day will be different, it will still be fun and exciting.
Most important, remind your child that the most special thing about the holidays is spending them together.