Winter can be so isolating for families who live with children with compromised health needs. There are many viruses and bacterial infections that can put the children at risk of a life-threatening event.
While many of the children who live with chronic and long term health conditions may be hospitalised over this winter season, there are many other families who are staying at home trying to minimise the risk for their children. Other families are making the decision to home school over the winter period for their children who are most vulnerable.
The winter months have a huge impact on families who have children with health needs. I want to acknowledge the cost this has on the family. Resiliency is stretched when a child is in hospital and parents are trying to juggle and balance how they stay and support their sick child in the hospital whilst taking care of their other children. The siblings often have to forgo their own interests at this time as parents are not able to ‘stretch’ to continue with extra curriculum activities outside of school. The time, energy and sheer practicalities of daily living at this time can be exhausting.
Some of the families True Colours supports have the sick child’s room set up to enable strict monitoring and restriction of who goes in to be with them in order to reduce contact with infections or viruses. While this is necessary at times this creates barriers between siblings and friends and extended family.
Most people struggle at times with the weather and the cold dreariness of winter, but for families of seriously ill children it is hugely impactful and can be life altering.
I want to honour the commitment and care that parents give to their children, living with such adversity. And I certainly want to acknowledge the sacrifice that siblings also make at this time of the year.
The psychological fall out of this, is that self-esteem and confidence can be eroded, exhaustion and sleep deprivation is evident in the way family members relate to each other. Everything feels harder. Resentments and frustrations are more evident when everyone is stretched to their capacity.
What would make the difference through these months?… Again it is the little things that count. Whether it is delivering a meal, taking a sibling out for a treat or making sure they have some extra attention to help redress their experience of missing out. It is mowing the lawn, going to the supermarket and assistance with the day to day functioning of a family’s life in any way that may offer support. To ‘be’ there for someone else when there is little that can be done to change the circumstances is indeed something that can be deeply appreciated.
This blog is dedicated to all those that find the winter months difficult, whatever the reason. And I think particularly of those children, young people and families who understand the fragility of life and strive to make each day a positive one.