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Ways to help yourself when your child is in hospital

Patient information A-Z

When you have a sick child it can feel as if your whole world has been turned upside down. Some parents say everything feels unreal and it is almost as if they are watching themselves in the situation.

Naturally your focus is on your child and helping them recover/ cope with what is happening to them. However, keeping yourself well will help your child. We all have different ways of coping. Think about what helps you to relax and de-stress. Some ideas that other parents have reported to find useful include:


If you are normally active, sitting in hospital will be very hard. Check with staff when there is a good time to leave the ward, and go for a run or a walk near the hospital. However active you normally are, it is important to try to get fresh air regularly, many parents report that it is useful to take breaks from being on the unit/ward.


Ensure that you eat a balanced diet as much as possible. Ask people to bring in fresh food for you. Eating little and often can help you feel better, as can drinking plenty of fluids.


If you are having trouble sleeping try to have a calm time before going to bed, have a warm bath/shower, read or do something like watching TV to help relax a little.

Doing something nice

Everyone needs time to have a change and do something for themselves. Maybe try to meet a friend for a coffee, read or do another activity that absorbs you.

Please remember that it is normal to feel stressed in these circumstances. If you feel really overwhelmed please ask to speak to one of the counselling/psychology team or contact your GP.

Accepting help

When you are suddenly thrown into being at the hospital a lot it is normal to feel worried or stressed about keeping on top of things at home. When friends or family offer to help there are often things they can do to make life a little easier for the family, which in turn eases some of the stress on the parents. Some ideas of ways family and friends can help:

  • Taking/collecting other children from school
  • Having your other children after school/for sleepovers
  • Making a meal either for now or for the freezer
  • Organising an activity for your other children
  • Household cleaning or laundry
  • Help with pets

Contacts/Further information

The PICU psychosocial team can be contacted during your stay, please ask your nurse or doctor to contact us or contact our admin team on 01223 216878.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151