The worst part is over! The surgery is done, the worrying is over! Now you’ve just got to help the little one through the recovery period. If your child had to be under full anesthesia, they will probably be feeling a bit woozy for a little while, but after that, the biggest problem will be that they are bored and don’t want to hold still and take it easy! Check out these activity ideas to help keep your child entertained while they have to stay in bed recovering.
The First Few Days
Your child is probably feeling groggy and a bit out of it. Set up some low key activities to help them slowly start to feel better.
- Bring get well gifts. Be ready the minute your child wakes up with things to help them feel better. Have their bedroom or hospital room decorated with balloons and get well signs and drawings from their siblings or classmates. Buy small toys, especially if there’s something special they’ve been wanting. For example, spoil them with a video game they didn’t think they’d get until their birthday. Also be sure to buy games and interactive activities that will help them stay entertained while they are stuck in bed.
- Have lots of things on hand that are easy to eat and drink. They may not feel like eating much so stock up on things like juice, popsicles, soups, and Gatorade.
- Set up their bedroom at home. Make it extra comfortable as they might be spending some extra time there over the next few days or weeks. Make sure it is neat and tidy and that there are lots of pillows and blankets on the bed. Bring in the TV and their video game consoles. Before they get home, gather all of their favorite toys and stuffed animals on the bed or bedside table so they are within close reach.
The First Weeks of Recovery
As your child starts to feel better, they may start to get bored and restless as they are stuck in bed. Even if they aren’t confined to bed, they will get restless if they can’t go to school or if they have to curtail their normal activities to allow time to heal. Plan lots of activities in advance that are appropriate to your child’s level of ability following surgery.
In advance, purchase a lap desk or tray, the kind you might use for breakfast in bed. This will allow your child to draw and color while stuck in bed. Other activities to try include:
- Bring in old photo albums. Your child will have fun seeing these unfamiliar sides of familiar relatives and in seeing a history they didn’t know about.
- Go to the library and stock up on lots and lots of new books and magazines to read.
- Try new arts and craft activities like finger painting, playing with clay, knitting, crocheting, shrinky dinks, beaded jewelry and keychains, etc. You can buy all kinds of activity kits from craft stores. You can also buy materials to come up with your own craft. For example, buy sheets of felt and some pillow stuffing and learn how to sew little dolls.
- Wait until dark and do shadow puppets on the wall. Or set up a little stage with a table and some blankets and put on a puppet show with sock puppets or paper dolls.
- Play board games in bed, especially games your child has never played before. This could be especially fun if you can track down some of your own favorite childhood games. Your child will enjoy seeing the kinds of games you enjoyed when you were a child.
A Few Weeks After Surgery
Once your child is starting to be able to do more things, they will probably be feeling ready to go outside and play with friends. With some careful advanced planning, you should be able to plan some activities that will give your child that normalcy without hindering their recovery.
- Plan a day in the park. Choose a park that will be most conducive to getting around on crutches or dealing with other mobility limitations. Plan activities that are fun for the outdoors but don’t require as much activity like sidewalk paint, “I spy,” or swinging on the swings if that will be safe.
- Set up play dates with friends, but plan activities to do so that your child’s friends will not be pressuring them to do active things that they can’t handle.
Dealing with the Blues
During the time of recovery, your child will probably be feeling blue at some points that they aren’t getting to have as much fun and playtime as usual. Combat that in advance by being prepared with lots of games and activities. Invite classmates to come over and sign their cast or bring over get well cards. Keeping your child entertained and upbeat is one of the most important parts of getting through recovery time.