In hospital and at home: Tips for families this holiday season
Parent / carer
When treatment ends
The holiday season has different meanings for different people. For some, it’s a time of special significance and celebration. For others, it might be a particularly challenging time of year.
No matter what the holiday season looks like for your family, whether you are in the hospital or at home, here are some ideas that may help you through this time of year.
“While you think about your future, enjoy your present. Try to get as much enjoyment out of every day as you can.” – Lachlan
1. Decorate your hospital room
Decorate with special items from home to make the hospital room feel more familiar. Put up a small tree in your room. Bring in string lights or candles with batteries to give your room a cosy glow.
2. Make Christmas cards for loved ones
Christmas cards are messages of love and hope. Consider hanging any you receive up in your room and making homemade cards to send to family and friends.
3. Get involved in hospital activities
If you are in Westmead or the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, our Family Wellbeing Coordinators might have some fun activities for you. If you are in another hospital check in with your oncology nurse or team to see what the hospital is planning for the weeks’ ahead.
4. Holiday picture frames
Its hard not being with those you love around this time, keep them close by filling frames with their photos to have them near you.
5. Make the most of time spent with family
Many hospital wards will extend visiting hours and limitations on visitor numbers on Christmas Day, so check with the ward what you can expect.
6. Remind yourself, this is not forever. This is just for now.
You’ve got this!
1. Create new traditions
If your usual rituals or traditions are no longer possible or do not feel right, consider replacing them with new ones and making new memories. Try a new meal recipe, a new way to decorate your tree, find a new favorite movie to watch.
2. Speak honestly with your family and loved ones
Talk openly to your loved ones about how you are feeling and discuss what you can and can’t manage this year. Knowing everyone on the same page is one less thing to worry about.
3. Keep it simple
If you usually host, consider asking someone else to host this year. Or eating out at a restaurant or in a park. You might not have the energy to make a big meal for everyone, ordering in is ok too.
4. Try to do the things you love
It can be easy to forget to nourish yourself when you are busy looking after family and friends. Whether it’s spending time with your pet, going for a walk, watching a movie during the day, listening to music, having a bath or reading a book, it’s important to give yourself permission to do things that replenish your energy and say no to things that deplete you.
5. Talk to your health care team
It can be difficult transitioning back home from hospital and you might be feeling nervous being away from your usual support. Public holidays and events can also disrupt regular appointments. If you’re worried about how the holidays will affect your treatment or who to call, discuss this with your healthcare team now and make a plan.
6. Ask for help
Sometimes, asking for help isn’t easy. Don’t feel like you have to do all the things you used to do. If you’re struggling or feeling fatigued, delegate tasks like shopping, cooking and cleaning to someone else. Redkite’s KiteCrew app is the perfect way to do this. Assign those tasks to friends and family and who can manage them for you.
Note: KiteCrew has been updated to include holiday tasks! Download now by searching for Redkite on the App Store or Google Play.
7. Adjust your expectations and be gentle with yourself
It doesn’t have to be perfect, give yourself permission to celebrate in whatever way you can. The best gift you can give is to be kind to yourself.
“Family and friends can help ease the pressure by not putting any expectations on you during the Christmas period, and just letting you know they are there if you need any help. Even offering to pick up Christmas presents or do a food shop for you can be so beneficial.” – Kim, parent
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