Helping parents prepare for your child’s surgery

Self care tips for parents

Parents focus on how to prepare their child and other family members (siblings, grandparents, others) for the child’s surgery, recovery, and care at home. In doing so, parents may forget to prepare themselves. Parents need to take care of themselves before, during, and after their child’s surgery as well. Here are some tips (developed by other parents) to help you be your best.

Before surgery

Maintain a healthy diet including plenty of fluids. Get the necessary sleep your body needs. Use relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety and stress and promote sleep. For example:

  • Yoga
  • Long walk/exercise
  • Massage
  • Music
  • Hot bath
  • Quiet time alone
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Guided imagery (imagine a place where you feel good)
  • Any other healthy techniques you have used in the past that work for you

Day of surgery

Eat a healthy breakfast outside your child’s sight and smell. If you find you are not hungry, then bring along a healthy food snack or money for food in our cafeteria. Drink plenty of liquids as well.

Bring along something to occupy your time and mind while your child is in surgery:

  • A good book or magazine
  • A pad of paper and pencil/pen for organizing your grocery list, create a to do list, etc.
  • Ask a supportive friend or relative to wait with you. If they cannot come, then bring their phone number

During surgery

Remember to:

  • Use your relaxation techniques
  • Talk with your support person–doing so may help you feel better and to pass time
  • Take a walk. Tell the staff person or volunteer you are leaving
  • Eat if you skipped a meal

After surgery

Proper nutrition and rest along with support and relaxation techniques are just as important after surgery. Plan ahead so someone can relieve you, whether your child is recovering at home or in the hospital. You will need time to refresh yourself, sleep, or have time to be alone and breathe! Rely on a close friend or relative you trust for this break time.

If your child is in the hospital your child’s nurse will be able to assist you as well. Talk with your child’s nurse about your needs and develop a plan to work together to meet your needs as well as your child’s needs. Taking care of yourself helps you take better care of your child.


Take a tour designed to help patients and family members to learn what to expect before, during, and after surgery day.


To make the check-in process as easy as possible, we encourage patients who have an appointment for Surgery, Radiology (X-Ray) or Special Diagnostics to pre-register online.


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