Give InKind’s Care Calendar helps answer the central question of how to give or receive support. In this case, how to set up a support page for yourself, a friend, or family member who has a newborn in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Begin by identifying a close friend or family member who is able to sit down with both parents to understand schedules, food preferences, and anything else that may make their situation easier (see a sample Give InKind Hospital Bed Rest Support Page here). When things feel overwhelming the first step is often the hardest. Once you begin, the path forward becomes clearer.
For parents of a newborn in the NICU, a high level of organization is a gamechanger, particularly if they have older children at home. You can add as many items to the Care Calendar as needed to help them be present in two places at once.
- Food: Meals and groceries for the family are always among the most popular calendar items. Does the family have any dietary restrictions? Is anyone allergic to anything? Do they prefer home-cooked, takeout, and/or frozen meals? Can the parents receive meals at the hospital too?
- Childcare: If there are two or more children with different schedules, you can easily build that into the Care Calendar. Additional obligations like music lessons and storytime at the library fit into this category nicely. It can be helpful to take shifts asking people to provide coverage if necessary or as back-up childcare providers if the parents have to divide their time between home and hospital.
- Pet Care: Are there pets to care for? Arrange necessary (multiple) daily dog walks, or think about doggy daycare. Look in on smaller animals (gerbils) on a regular basis.
- Home Services: Add calendar events for a friend to be there for a long-scheduled home appointment, a housecleaning, or massive laundry wash and fold.
- Other: “Other" is the ultimate catch-all category. This is a great way to create opportunities for connection that can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of a crisis. If parents are in the NICU overnight, plan a friend or a cousin tent sleepover in the living room.
NICU expenses may quickly add up. There are multiple car trips back and forth to the hospital, lost income if a parent is on leave, and hospital costs not covered by insurance. If there is such a need, simply enable the fundraising button on your Give InKind page and connect your PayPal or GoFundMe account.
The Give InKind Wishlist is another opportunity for others to meaningfully support a family with a child in the NICU. Browse Give InKind’s curated list for suggested items that could help in their unique situation. When you see an item that could be helpful, use the “+" icon to add to your Wishlist.
You may also add an existing Amazon Wishlist to your Give InKind page.
Use Give InKind’s do-not-disturb section to let others know about the parent’s communication preferences. Keep in mind that these preferences can be easily turned on or off as a situation changes.
- Phone Calls: How do the parents like to communicate – phone call or text? It can be difficult to know when a parent will be available to answer the phone. Asking about preferences lets a parent know they are being thought of even if they can’t always talk.
- Visitors: Are visitors allowed in the hospital (or do the parents even want them)? If so, use the Special Notes section to add visiting hours and any other details.
- Flowers: In general, NICU’s do not allow flowers, so always best to ask. Take a look at some suggested alternatives instead.
Add unlimited updates to keep friends and family informed. If the parents do not wish to communicate by phone or text, this is a great place to designate a third-party to act as the family spokesperson.
Clearly expressing what is most helpful and being able to follow through on that support is a gift, both to the giver and to the receiver. When things are difficult, a hive appears, and with this hive come the worker bees ready to help. “Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom," wrote M. Scott Peck. Create your Give InKind Support Page here.
Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.