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Parenting Advice

A Little Help From Your Friends

Written by Mindy White

Photography by Photographed by James Kicinski-McCoy

Like the song suggests, sometimes we “get by with a little help from our friends.” Most of us have experienced one of those moments where an unexpected (or sometimes expected) event happens to a family member or a close friend. It could be an accident, sudden illness, divorce, or perhaps even a beautiful thing, like a friend giving birth, when someone could use a little help. Sometimes these moments can call for hospital stays, sick days at home, and time off work, which can all cause worry and uncertainties. Whether it’s a day, a week, or a matter of months, some situations can keep a family from their normal routine. It’s always a great idea to extend a helping hand and relieve some stress during difficult situations without overstepping boundaries or even adding more stress. There are many simple things you can do to help out a friend in need, and we’ve gathered a few of those below so you can be prepared the next time an emergency strikes.

Visitation Etiquette. We know that the first thing you want to do is visit your friend or friend’s family member, but there are a few precautions you should take first. Call ahead and make sure he or she is okay with and able to have visitors. If it’s an illness or injury, communicate with nurses before barging in. During a difficult time like a divorce, make sure your friend is mentally ready to see others before popping over. Stay just long enough to let them know how much you care and see if there’s anything you can do to help.

Bring Toys. Whether it’s your friend or their child who’s sick, injured, in the hospital, or going through a rough time, you can bring toys and activities to keep them occupied and take their mind off the circumstances.

Watch The Kids. Another generous thing you can do is offer to watch your friend’s kids. Maybe trade off watching the kids with another friend if you have a job or kids, yourself. Take them to the park or out for ice cream to get the situation off their minds. Same goes for pets—offer to spend some time feeding, watering, and walking their dog while your friend is unavailable.

Home Cooked Meals. We all know that hospital food isn’t exactly someone’s first meal choice and even if your friend is stuck sick at home, they’re probably not in the mood to cook. Volunteer to bring them a home cooked meal or their favorite takeout. If in the hospital, make sure to call ahead and see if you are allowed to bring him or her food, as they may be on a restricted diet.

Comfort Of Home. If your friend’s hospital stay is substantial, ask if you can bring some things from their home to make the room a little comfier, such as their favorite pillow, blanket, teddy bear, books, games, or even see if you can decorate the room to make it a little less coldwith balloons, pictures, or artwork from their kids.

Raise Money. If the hospital bills are stacking up and your friend is worried about being able to cover them, you may want to think about starting a fundraiser of some sort. There are several websites like GoFundMeGiveForward, and Crowdrise that allow others to donate money to causes, but if asking for money online isn’t your thing, you can also host a bake sale, car wash, have a yard sale, or ask friends and family for donations. Just make sure your friend is open to the idea of fundraising before you begin.

Long Distance. Not in the same town as the loved one in need? You can still bring some happiness to their stressful situation by mailing a sympathy card, toy, or by sending a gift basket their way. Maybe include some cash for the kids, medical bills, or newborn baby to help chip in. This small gesture goes a long way and certainly can help out.

House Sit. For a friend or friend’s child who has been (or will be) in the hospital or away from home for a while, consider house sitting. Clean the house, do the dishes, wash the laundry, water the plants, etc. This act of kindness is something most likely needed and will be deeply appreciated when your friend gets to come home to a clean house.

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