If only everything about raising a child could be found in What to Expect When You're Expecting!

As we all know, the reality is that so much of parenting is what you never expected and didn't see coming. When we begin the journey of parenting many of us never considered things like: learning challenges, bullying, ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), mean friends, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), bike wrecks, ruptured appendix, body shaming, leukemia, congenital heart defect, Chiari malformation (what the heck is that?)—you name it. The title of the popular book changes from What to Expect When You're Expecting to What I Never Even Knew Existed!

For many parents, some of the most stressful events in life involve our children's health. Even "normal" health care crisis can end up being the markers for the timeline of our lives. "Remember when Hannah had her tonsils out and..."

Child life: Here to help

We are here to help you with the challenges you face as families with children in the health care community. What tough question did your child ask that you didn't feel comfortable answering? How can we help you navigate the job of parenting while in a medical environment during difficult circumstances? The Child Life Team here at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children want to be available to help you help your child(ren) grow, develop and thrive in the hospital, at home, at school and in your community.

We will be sharing regular blog posts that explore and discuss what happens when your family experiences the unexpected and has to enter the world of pediatric health care. Whether your hospital stay is brief, like fixing a broken arm—or long, like cancer treatment we, the Child Life Team are here to be your guide.

The importance of play

Child Life Specialists use many tools to help children learn and cope with hospitalization and procedures, but our favorite and most effective tool is play. You may wonder, 'How can play help a kiddo in the hospital'? We, the grown-ups of the world, often think of play as just that, play. However, play is very serious business for children. Play is how children learn, process, absorb information, grow, achieve mastery and relax. Child Life Specialists encourage, promote and facilitate play for children in a health care environment. We use play to help children learn about the equipment they will see while at the hospital. We allow children to play with medical equipment and pretend to perform procedures on stuffed animals or dolls to help them feel empowered about their medical experience. When children feel overwhelmed by medicine we let them play to allow them to decompress and process what is happening.

Helping children grow

This is what our blog posts will be about: children, families, healthcare and play. We, the Child Life Team at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, welcome you to our "Facts from Fun Fairies". We look forward to chatting with you and helping you grow children who are happy, healthy, heard and understood for who they are and who they are becoming. We want to help you grow children who understand what is happening with their bodies, how their medical team is supporting their health and how the world of medicine works.

When children feel supported, when their curiosity is encouraged, their questions answered and our processes explained, we have children who learn to trust their healthcare team, feel less anxiety and cope better with stressful heath events. Then moms and dads have kids who aren't afraid to go to the doctor, who feel comfortable talking about their health and might even be a little better at taking their medicine. We won't be able to help you with keeping their rooms clean though, that's outside our scope of practice.