Amazon, family, motherhood March 20, 2020
I never realized how much we went outside until we were told we needed to socially distance ourselves and stay home as much as possible. We work really hard to stay healthy, and even though I didn’t think we went many places, I have felt much stress over not being able to get out like before. As an extrovert, staying put is hard for me, and I can’t even imagine how Lawson feels not being able to get all his energy out while we are socially distancing and having at-home staycations. I have begun pulling indoor toys out from the garage that were Addie’s for therapy so Lawson could use them, and I realized so many of them are amazing energy burning indoor toys from Amazon! If you are looking for indoor toys for your kids to use while you socially distance, look no further. Not only have we used most of these, but I’ve researched, talked to occupational and physical therapists, and as a former teacher, I totally approve of every single one of these indoor toys! CLICK TO SHOP 1| Mini Trampoline– This trampoline is a perfect energy burning indoor toy. The bar helps kids hold on for stability and it easily folds down to put under a bed or in a closet. Addie and Lawson have both enjoyed this one and it has lasted us several years and will for many more.2| Ball Pit and Extra Balls– We got one of these ball pits as a gift for Lawson and he loves it. Don’t forget the extra balls because you’ll want it to be full.3| Crawl Tunnel– These little crawl tunnels are so fun for kids! Such a fun indoor toy to play with and easy to store away! Play hide n go seek, army, or grab a blanket and lay inside. Endless possibilities.4| Basketball Hoop– What kid doesn’t love a basketball hoop? Practice hand/eye coordination (and of course some slam dunks) with this mini basketball hoop. CLICK TO SHOP 5| Cozy Coupe– This is the best indoor toy we’ve bought. This Cozy Coupe gets used daily in our house. Perfect for little ones and you can use it indoors or outdoors if you like!6| Fly Bike– If you need an indoor toy that doesn’t take up a lot of room but burns lots of energy, this Fly Bike is perfect. Teaches kids the beginning skills of bike riding!7| Gymnic Rody– Need energy burning? your child can hop up and down and all around on this indoor toy pony. This is one of Addie’s favorites on the list and is wonderful for core work!8| Teeter Popper– Kids can get creative with this Teeter Popper. Great for learning how to balance! CLICK TO SHOP 9| Inflatable Bounce House– This bounce house takes up a fair amount of room. Move the couches and coffee table and let the kids have a blast! 10| Gonge Top– This indoor toy is a massive spinning top! Get in, or just spin it, or balance on top! Kids can get really creative with this fun toy.11| Stepping Stones– This is great for kids of all ages. Little ones can touch the textures, toddlers and littles can hop from stone to stone, and big kids can play “The Floor is Lava” on these! Stepping Stones are a great indoor toy because they stack to put away!12| Crocodile Hop Floor Game– Get your kids hopping with this interactive indoor game. Easy set up, easy to put away, and kids get to do lots of hopping to burn off their energy. CLICK TO SHOP 13| Pikler Triangle– This is one of Lawson’s favorite indoor toys! He’s gotten really good at climbing thanks to the Pikler Triangle!14| Wooden Balance Board– Similar to the plastic one above but definitely allows for more creativity thanks to the simple, wooden design. The wooden balance board can be flipped to make a bridge or tunnel for toys!15| Sit N Spin– Let your kids spin til they can’t spin any more! This Sit N Spin is a child’s dream indoor toy and will have them giggling over and over.16| Bilibo– Creativity can soar with the Bilibo when kids can sit in it, spin in it, stand on it, wear it as a hat, and more. Definitely an indoor toy that kids will get a kick out of. CLICK TO SHOP 17| Swedish Wall Playground– If you have the space for this one, definitely grab it. This is a homeschool parent’s dream, but also every kid’s dream! The Swedish Wall Playground is the perfect indoor toy and is super versatile. Great for burning energy and learning lots of skills.18| Sunny Patch Tootle the Turtle Target Toss– This fun game from Melissa and Doug is great for all ages. Start a family competition to see who can throw it the furthest.19| Plasma Car– Low profile so kids can put their feet up, this Plasma Car lets kids get around the house just by moving side to side! So much fun and uses lots of good energy burning!20| Rocking Chair Seesaw– Need your child to stay in one place but burn off their energy? This chair seesaw is perfect for that! It’s bright colors and thin design make this cute and functional and fun! Do you have any of the indoor toys on this list? Which one will you be grabbing?
Sometimes I feel like special needs moms have the keys to life. We know how to deal with intense stress, we will stay on the phone for hours with insurance companies to advocate for our kids, and we work extra hard to stay healthy so our kids stay well and out of the hospital. So when the big CV sprung up, I noticed that many special needs moms, although worried (and rightly so), were more prepared than the average person. You see, special needs families that have immunocompromised children live their lives with extra precautions on the daily. It’s something we have always had to do to make sure our children stay healthy because the alternative could possibly mean a long hospitalization or death. It’s a sad and scary reality for us. Today I want to share some easy ways to stay healthy that everyone can do all the time, especially during these scary times, and I hope you’ll find them helpful. LEAVING SHOES AT THE DOOR is one of my favorite easy ways to stay healthy in your home. We have implemented this since right before Addie came home from the NICU. In 2016, a study by researchers at the University of Arizona introduced a report saying the average shoe sole is covered with 421,000 bacteria and that 90 percent of those bacteria transfer directly to a clean tile floor on first contact. Then in 2017, a study on shoe bacteria by the University of Houston showed that more than 26% of shoes examined test positive for C. diff. That’s more than three times the amount typically found in kitchens and bathrooms. Isn’t that disgusting? While people didn’t initially understand why we enforced leaving shoes at the door, they now know it’s the rule at our house. If you’re wanting to implement this in your home, let any visitors know ahead of time they need to wear or bring socks. Have a guest that forgot? Have a basket with fun socks at the entrance of your home so no one has to fret. We personally have this amazing entryway table that has plenty of room for shoes for our guests! WASHING HANDS is an another easy way to stay healthy, but it needs to be done right in order to be effective. When Addie was in the NICU they had sinks outside of the unit and would require us to sing our ABC’s twice while washing with hot water in order to be allowed to come in. It was such an important lesson to see just how fragile these little ones truly were, and the importance of hand washing. I also learned that using paper towels was another easy way to help the spread of germs. When you use regular hand towels and people aren’t washing their hands properly, then germs can easily spread to the next person that dries their hands. If you can’t find paper towels or just want to help our environment more, try using unpaper towels! We love this brand called Marley’s Monsters and have used them for years. Use it, throw it in a little laundry basket, wash, and roll back up! Make it a habit to tell your family and anyone visiting your home that as soon as they come in the door they should take their shoes off, head to the bathroom, and thoroughly wash their hands. It’s a non-negotiable rule in our house that has really helped the spread of germs LIMITING GOING OUT DURING RESPIRATORY SEASON is a key way you and your family can stay healthy. As a trach mom, this one is of big importance. From Fall to Winter you will often see our family at home way more often. We limit eating out at restaurants (and if we do go, I am very liberal with my Young Living Thieves Spray), we don’t go to the movies, and we stay away from parks and playdates. Addie was recently in the hospital for nearly 3 weeks because of a cold, which just showed how fragile she truly is. She got sick from a toddler with a runny nose that gave it to Lawson. If you have a runny nose, cough, or fever, you especially need to do your best to not going out during respiratory season. If you must go out, please use a face mask. Face masks aren’t easy to come by right now, but reusable face masks are great too! Just make sure you wash them in hot water and vinegar between uses. By limiting going out, you help others stay healthy. STEAMING AND SANITIZING YOUR HOME is one helpful way I’ve found you can stay healthy. We love our Raycop for sanitizing any fabric. After 2 seconds it can extract 99.99% of bacteria, 99.8% of pollen after 1 minute, and can extract 90% of household dust in just 3 minutes. I wrote a whole blog post about it a few years ago, and it’s still a product we love. You’d be surprised at the amount of bacteria people have on their clothes that transfer to furniture. We also use our Shark Steam Mop pretty frequently. I put Thieves cleaner and water in the reservoir and steam our floors to make sure all germs leave our house. I love that it gets our floors squeaky clean and I can throw the pads in my washing machine and reuse them. If you have kids, pets, or guests, you need these in your home. LIMITING SUGAR is so important to wellness and a great way to stay healthy. Have you noticed that during the Fall and Winter people are more sick? Have you also noticed that during that time we have Halloween candy, Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts, New Years alcohol, and more? Sugar causes inflammation in the body and doesn’t do you any favors when it comes to staying healthy. In fact, as a nation, we consume way too much added sugar. Adult men take in an average of 24 teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the National Cancer Institute. That’s equal to 384 calories. In the American diet, the top sources are soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, and most processed foods. But added sugar is also present in items that you may not think of as sweetened, like soups, bread, cured meats, and ketchup. Read your labels as best as possible. If you’re desperate for sweets, try alternative sweeteners like Stevia, Monkfruit, or Erythritol. I really like this Stevia & Monkfruit liquid sweetener for my morning coffee. TAKING SUPPLEMENTS is one thing our family always does to help us stay healthy and is so important year-round, but even more important during seasons where many people are sick. Our family religiously takes Young Living supplements like Super C (a vitamin C + essential oil chewable), Multigreen (a chlorophyll supplement), and Life 9 (a probiotic for gut health). The most important thing I’ve found out about taking supplements is that they’re made to supplement your life. I know that sounds simple, but if you’re eating unhealthy foods or drinking sugary drinks, supplements really aren’t going to help you that much. But if you take care of your body, eat healthy, watch your sugar intake, and get some exercise in, you’ll find that doing those things and taking supplements will really make a difference in your health. These are just a few of the many things our family does to stay healthy. For more ideas visit me on Instagram and Instagram highlights, as well as Facebook. Which ones will you be implementing right away?
If you don’t follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may not have known that our family has been suffering through job loss for nearly a year now. In that time Mathew and I have rarely eaten out, haven’t made purchases that weren’t necessary, and haven’t done any traveling other than Addie’s Make A Wish trip to Disney. It has been a very hard road, but thankfully God has provided a job for Mathew and we are so excited for his new endeavor. We’ve had to be very creative this past year since we haven’t done any traveling, and we’ve come up with some really fun at-home staycation ideas that won’t break the bank! At-home staycations are such a great idea when you’re on a budget, and they make great memories for every family! Harry Potter Camping Marathon is something Mathew and I like to have as often as we can. It’s been a tradition since we were newly married and it’s just downright fun! We pitch our camping tent in the living room, pull out the blow up mattress, and add lots of cozy blankets and pillows. We start from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and take several days to get all the way to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 2. Addie loves laying in the tent and we eat Fizzing Whizzbees and Chocolate Frogs during the marathon. If you’re brave, grab some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans– they mean every flavor! You’ll feel like you’re really there!Bringing the vacation to us is another thing our family enjoys. We pull out inflatables for the kids to swim in outside, grill some fish for fish tacos, and tell Alexa to play some Spanish music (psst- can’t go wrong with Gypsy Kings.) I also like to go through our fun fiesta decorations from my 30th birthday party and pull them out for extra fun. Don’t forget the mini drink umbrellas! Staying in bed all day is definitely one at-home staycation I miss. When Mathew and I were newlyweds we would throw on some relaxing music and we would just hang out in bed all day. We would bring Scrabble (This is the actual version I have. We are legit like that!) or Monopoly Deal into bed and play games for hours, would cook comfort food and eat in bed, and we would keep all the lights off- letting the sun shining through the windows be all of our light. If your kids are gone for the day with grandparents, definitely take advantage of this relaxing staycation.Playing Chopped is another fun at-home staycation we have often. If you’ve never seen the a Food a Network show, Chopped, the premise is that chefs get a basket of mystery ingredients and have to make a meal from those ingredients. They come up with some great and not-so-great ideas, and we love recreating that idea. Mathew will go through the pantry and fridge, grab random food, and then I work my magic to try to come up with a delicious meal. It’s hilarious, fun, and is a great way to rid of things in your pantry that you haven’t used. I like to turn the tables on him sometimes and have him come up with a dessert with ingredients I’ve chosen. Definitely makes for a fun night! Grab some chef hats and put the timer for an hour to make it feel like you’re on the show. S’mores night at home is a creative at-home staycation idea. Order a newly released movie or hop onto Disney + or Netflix, and get to s’mores making! Buying different types of candy bars or even flavored or gourmet marshmallows can make s’mores night interesting. Pro tip- turn your stove burner on, skewer your marshmallow with a fork, and roast it over the burner. It tastes a million times better than microwaved marshmallows. Let every person in your family come up with their own creation, then do a taste test! To make things extra special, google and print out a cheesy certificate for the winner so celebrate their s’mores masterpiece.Setting up yard games is another great at-home staycation. If you’ve got horseshoes, giant yard Jenga, cornhole, massive Connect Four, or a ladder toss set, take them outside and compete with family or friends. Tell those you invite that it’s a pot luck so you don’t have to worry about cooking for lots of guests. We love inviting friends over and definitely don’t do it enough. Life is always better with friends! Dance parties are a great at-home staycation idea that we do really often. They help break up stress, induce giggles, and just give everyone a chance to let loose. We love our Amazon Echo for dance parties! I like to use Spotify to find a playlist but if you have older kids you could create a custom playlist and tell Alexa to play it! It’s a great way to kick off a staycation or end one with a bang. Here’s Lawson enjoying one of our regular dance parties to Moana above.Crafting weekends are another at-home staycation idea I have always enjoyed. When I was on bed rest during my pregnancy with Addie, I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere or do anything other than sit or lay down. So I made a wreath for her room and other fun things! It was so fun! Go through your craft supplies, find something fun to recreate on Pinterest, and enjoy yourself! I hope you’ve enjoyed my favorite at-home staycation ideas. Let me know which one you’re looking forward to doing most! If your budget allows for you to get out of the house and do things around town, check out these incredible ideas from my readers here on Facebook and here on Instagram. They have so many amazing and creative ideas! Definitely leave your ideas at either one, too!
I had a reader approach me early last week about books about special needs life after reading my post on Secrets Special Needs Moms Won’t Tell You But Wish You Knew. I knew of a few books but really wanted to come up with a resource for not only her, but for those curious about different special needs, families looking for books about special needs for siblings, or books about special needs for children with those special needs so they have someone that they can identify with in a book. I polled my special needs mom friends on Instagram and in my Special Moms Summit (an upcoming respite retreat for special needs moms) Facebook group, and got everyone’s input.These books about special needs are all incredible and I hope you’ll make it a goal to grab all 25 books to add to your library. The first book is near and dear to my heart- Giraffes Can’t Dance, as it’s a book we’ve read to Addie hundreds of times since her days in the NICU. My friend Lauren gifted us a copy of it, and it makes me teary every time we read it. I hope you love each and every book on this list, that they teach you things you didn’t know, that they inspire you and give you hope, and that they teach you more and more of acceptance, love, and living life without limits. 1| Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae – A touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. with crooked knees and thin legs, it’s harder for a giraffe than you would think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend.2| The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca– When young Temple as diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her inquisitive mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe3| Billy’s Sister: Life When Your Sibling Has a Disability by Jessica Leving– Growing up with a sibling who has a disability can be hard. But it can also be awesome! Based on the author’s real-life experiences, this unique and touching children’s book explores how siblings of kid with disabilities are special, too.4| Chromosome Kids Like Me by Annette Fournier– A sweet, fun story that takes something complex- understanding chromosome disorders- and compares it to something we can all understand- socks! This charming book is the perfect way to teach children and adults about chromosome abnormalities and what makes the people who have them special.5| El Deafo by Cece Bell– Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful and awkward hearing aid. 6| Lemon the Duck by Laura Backman– Neurological issues make Lemon unable to walk, but with the support of a compassionate teacher and her students, Lemon is still able to become one happy duck! Through caring for Lemon, the students share in her victories and learn that acceptance, love, and extra special care can go a long way. They also come to understand that her difference doesn’t make Lemon any less special.7| Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds– This empowering picture book reminds children of how much their dreams matter, and while life will have ups and downs, he enlists readers to stay true to who they are, to tap into their most creative inner selves, and to never ever forget to dream big,8| My Friend Has Down Syndrome by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos– In this reassuring story, two children, one with Down syndrome and one without, learn that they are both good at different things and that by helping each other overcome their fears and difficulties they can accomplish a great deal together.9| The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game by Nancy Churnin– All William Ellsworth Hoy wanted to do was play baseball. After losing out on a spot on the local deaf team, William practiced even harder- eventually earning a position on a professional team. But his struggle was far from over. In addition to the prejudice he faced, he could not hear the umpires calls. One day he asked the umpire to use hand signals: strike, ball, out. That day he not only got on base but also changed the way the game was played forever.10| Some Kids Use Wheelchairs by Lola M. Schaefer– This book teaches diversity and tolerance to young readers, and helps them understand and appreciate those children who have health differences. Colorful photos show kids with disabilities enjoying activities with their peers. 11| Daniel’s New Friend (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) by Becky Friedman– Daniel and Miss Elaina are visiting Prince Wednesday’s castle for a play date. When they arrive they are so excited to meet a new friend Chrissie! Daniel has so much fun playing with his new friend! Then he notices that Chrissie wears braces on her legs to help her to walk. Even though Chrissie may walk differently than Daniel, she loves the color red and playing pretend just as much as he does! Daniel is thrilled to make a wonderful new friend. This delightful story is perfect for helping little ones understand that despite small differences, anyone can become a new friend.12| Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson– This powerful and winning picture book tells the story of a young man overcoming the odds. Born in Ghana with one deformed leg, Emmanuel was dismissed by many, but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability.13| Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis– Told in rhyme, this story follows Susan through a series of familiar activities. She swims with her father, works hard in school, plays with her friends, and even ride a horse. Lively, thoughtfully drawn illustrations review a portrait of a busy, happy little girl with Home at younger readers will identify. Not until the end of the story is it revealed that Susan uses a wheelchair.14| Don’t Call Me Special by Pat Thomas– This delightful picture book explores questions and concerns about disability in a simple and reassuring way. Younger children can find out what a disability is, and learn how people deal with their disabilities to live happy and full lives.15| A Rainbow of Friends by P.K. Hallinan– Friends come in all colors and sizes; they can be funny or serious, musical or athletic, outgoing or quiet. This book reminds children to celebrate their differences because that is what makes each of us so special. 16| Keep Your Ear on the Ball by Genevieve Petrillo– Even though Davey is blind, he is quite capable – until he tries to play kickball. After several missed cakes and a trampled base keeper, no one wants Davey on the team. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a solution that will work for everybody.17| Moses Goes to a Concert by Issac Millman– Moses and his school friends are deaf, but like most children, they have a lot to say. They communicate in American Sign Language, using visual signs and facial expressions. Today, Moses and his classmates are going to a concert. They are teacher, Mr. Samuel’s, has two surprises in store for them, to make this particular concert a special event. Isaac Millman tells Moses’s story in pictures and written English, and in ASL, introducing hearing children to the signs for some of the key words and ideas. At the end of the book are too full conversations in sign language and a page showing the hand alphabet18| Wonder by R.J. Palacio– August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more 5an to be treated as an ordinary kid- but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. The book begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.19| My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best– Zulay and her three friends Are all in the same first grade class and study the same things, even though Zulay is blind. When their teacher asks her students what activity they want to do on Field Day, Zulay surprises everyone when she says she wants to run a race. With the help of a special aide and the support of her friends, Zulay does just that.20| A Boy and A Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz– Alan loves animals, but the great cat house at the Bronx zoo makes him sad. Why are they all alone in empty cages? Are they being punished? More than anything, he wants to be their champion – their voice – but he stutters uncontrollably. 21| Just Because by Rebecca Elliott– This heartwarming picture book about being perfectly loved, no matter what, tells of a brother’s love for his sister. He is so enthusiastic about just how loving and special she is, and delights in telling us about all the fun things they do together. Only as his tale unfolds does the reader begin to realize that his sister has special needs… and by then we just accept as he does all the wonderful things about her. This amusing and touching story encompasses the issue of disability in a charming celebration of sibling friendship to which all children can relate.22| Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco– Patricia Polacco is now one of America’s most loved children’s book creators, but once upon a time, she was a little girl named Trisha starting school. Tricia could paint and draw beautifully, but when she looked at words on a page, all she could see was jumble. It took a very special teacher to recognize little Trisha’s dyslexia: Mr. Falker, who encouraged her to overcome her reading disability. She will never forget him, and neither will we.23| The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon– Ginny suffers from undiagnosed double vision, and seeing two of everything is causing her difficulty in school. On vision screening day, a nurse discovers the problem, and the prescribed eye patch gives Ginny a new identity– the pirate of kindergarten. With the help of her pirate patch, Ginny can read, Ron, and even snip her scissors with double the speed!24| Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor– Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges – and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: when we come across someone who is different from us but we are not sure why, all we have to do is just ask.25| Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability by Shane Burcaw– Shane Burcaw was born with a rare disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which hinders his muscles’ growth. As a result, his body hasn’t grown bigger and stronger as he’s gotten older – it’s gotten smaller and weaker instead. Not So Different offers a humorous, relatable, and refreshingly honest glimpse into his life. Shane tackles many of the mundane and quirky questions that he’s often asked about living with a disability, and shows readers that he’s just as approachable, friendly, and funny as anyone else. Which special needs book looks most interesting to you?
My daughter Addie has a chromosomal abnormality that has given her a myriad of medical complications. The first year of her life she spent 6 months in the NICU, came home for 6 days, then spent 4 months in the PICU. It was a very tough first year. Since that first year Addie has had her share of hospitalizations, but most of them were just a few days long. Most recently though, in October, Addie spent over a month in the hospital. Many people over the past 5 1/2 years have asked us how they can support us best during times like these and I wanted to create this post on the best ways to support families with special needs children in the hospital as a resource. My hope is that special needs families will pass it on to their loved ones that ask how they can help and it lessens the burden for them coming up with ideas! Bring meals. One of the best ways to support families with special needs children in the hospital is to bring meals. When our kids are in the hospital, we don’t want to leave their side. Bringing meals helps so special needs parents can eat without having to leave the hospital or walk down to the cafeteria. Here’s how this best looks: call or text either of the special needs parents and tell them you’d like to bring lunch. Ask what they like, and bring it to them. You can gauge whether or not it’s a good time to chat by body cues from the parent and if they’re ok with it, stay and chat. If things look busy or the parent looks frazzled, it’s best to give them a big hug, tell them you love them, and leave lunch with them. If a parent is home during this or the special needs family has other children, asking if you can bring something to drop off for dinner is always appreciated too. After a long day at the hospital no one wants to cook. Having dinner waiting at home is always so helpful. Give gift cards. Visa gift cards, gift cards to Starbucks, a gift card for a date night, or even an Amazon gift card is always appreciated by special needs parents. This is a favorite way to support families with special needs children in the hospital because they’re pretty universal but are so helpful. Special needs families can use gift cards for gas, bills if the parents need to take off work for an extended time, groceries, date night for after the hospitalization, or even just a hot cup of coffee. Throw in a thoughtful card and you have just blessed that family immensely with your gesture. Drop it off at the front desk with a room number for an anonymous surprise, or visit and slip it to the family before you leave. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Bring snacks. Typically families with special needs children in the hospital are there for days, weeks, and sometimes months. Bringing snacks is a great way to show you’ve been thinking about your loved ones. Ask them what their favorite snacks and drinks are. They’ll thank you because that means less spending money at the vending machines where choices are sub-par. Someone got this snack box for us once and it was pretty amazing. Offer to do housework. This one might sound crazy, but you have no idea how much this will support families with special needs children in the hospital. Ask if you can take their trash cans out to the curb on trash day and put them up. Ask if you can come work on laundry that’s piling up. Ask if you can come take care of the dishes that no one’s been able to tend to because they’ve been at the hospital all day and it’s the last thing they want to do when they come home. Ask if you can stop by a couple times during the day to let their pets go outside. Here’s the kicker though- YOU need to come up with how you want to help them. The brains of special needs parents are fried. They make so many decisions during hospitalizations that when you say, “Hey, how can I help you?” they usually reply, “I’m not sure.” or “Let me get back with you.” They simply don’t have the energy to tell you how they need help. BUT if you offer specific help, you’ll most likely get a swift answer back that they will appreciate your help. Join them on holidays. It’s hard being in the hospital during holidays. Our family has spent 2 Halloweens, 2 Thanksgivings, 1 Christmas, 1 New Year, 1 Valentine’s, 1 St. Patrick’s Day, and several other holidays in the hospital. It’s heartbreaking for us. We want so badly to do what “normal” families do on holidays. Visiting special needs families in the hospital during holidays is so welcomed. It means you were thinking of us enough to take time out of your special day to help make ours a little more normal. If that doesn’t say love, I don’t know what does. Bonus points if you bring something festive like glow bracelets, holiday headbands, or fun themed socks to wear at the hospital. Pray. This one is so important. If you want to support a family you know with special needs children in the hospital then offer to pray. Pray with them in person, call and pray over the phone, send a prayer through text, or pray on your own. Reach out and ask others to pray as well. Whichever route you choose, know that this means so much to special needs families and your prayers and God’s love sustain us during these horribly rough times. I love gifting Jesus Calling so families can read a small devotional daily and pray. Provide time wasters. Sending or bringing a goodie basket with time wasters like a hand lettering practice book, a nature puzzle with a roll up mat, sudoku, or even a word search are great. Hospital life is busy but also really slow. Bringing these is a great way to keep their mind off of the harsh realities of being in the hospital yet again, and are very appreciated by special needs families. Wait for updates. There is nothing more exhausting to a special needs family than getting tons of phone calls and texts wanting updates on the status of the child. While we know you mean well, there’s a lot that goes on in the hospital and things can change rather quickly. Please wait for families to update you as they can. Whether they update in group texts, email blasts, Facebook posts, or phone calls- it is easiest for them to gather as much information as they can from the day and then relay it to everyone once there’s a steady game plan from the hospital team. I hope this list of ways to support families with special needs children in the hospital has been so helpful to you! If you’re a special needs family, bookmark or Pin this so you can send it to your loved ones during hospitalizations. If you’re a loved one, thank you for visiting so you can best help those you love!