I realised that J was suffering from second child syndrome when it was his second hospital admittance and I was enjoying it. Not the fact he was poorly enough to be admitted to the ward, but the uninterrupted time we had together. The first time we rushed in we had to call home to have an overnight bag delivered, the second, third and fourth times, we had the bag ready and waiting.
Here is my definitive list of everything you need for an overnight (or 2) stay with your little one.
- Blanket – I cannot stress this one enough. As he is often in with breathing issues (which is the case for many children during the winter months) they often need to have their tops off so medics can see how hard their chests and tummies are working to breathe. Having a cot or pram sized blanket that is theirs, that they can snuggle in and transfer between departments and wards in, is much nicer than wrapping them in your scarf/coat or, on one memorable occasion, a tea towel!
- Nappies & wipes or a few pairs of underwear if potty trained.
- Change of clothes – don’t worry about heavy jumpers as hospitals are always hot, vests and joggers are great, particularly as they can sleep in them between treatments.
- Nappy bags or carrier bags – children often throw up in hospital and some small bags to put ruined clothes in are brilliant.
- Small toys & books – Something they can play with on the bed without disturbing anyone.
- Snacks & drinks – If the staff say it’s ok for your child to eat and drink, snacks and drinks are invaluable. Often they have to monitor children for a long time (6 hours minimum seems to be the norm) and you won’t always have access to the vending machine/money for it.
- Change of clothes for you – when vomiting strikes 9 times out of 10, your child will vomit on you before they get themselves. The same rule applies – something comfy, not too hot and that you can nap in.
- Toiletries – whilst hospital showers aren’t great and if you can hold off until you get home, do. Toothbrushes and toothpaste, plus a hairbrush can make you feel much more human. Likewise deodorant and some wet wipes.
- Phone charger – when in hospital everyone will want to know how you’re getting on. A handy thing about hospitals is that they have so many plug sockets and they’re very kind about you plugging in your charger to make sure you can keep in touch.
- Kindle – I try to always keep mine charged. There are times where I have just had enough, the baby is napping, I’m fed up of my phone and being able to read on my kindle really helps me to unwind.
- Money – Now is not the time to be worrying about how much you spend. A real cup of coffee from the cafe goes a long way to helping you feel human. Plus car parking and anything else that may come up. Try to keep change on you always.
While being in hospital is a worrying, difficult experience, it is an opportunity to bed down, spend the time with your child and enjoy their company. Visiting friends are also helpful for your sanity (and to bring a hot cup of coffee!)