Being prepared for your child being ill

We all think very carefully about what we would do if we, or our partner, was seriously ill and had to lose time from work. Taking out insurance policies that allow us to be paid in the case of sever and serious accident or illnesses is now a part of our lives, and one which we prepare for. But what happens if it is not an adult who is ill, but one of our children. We are still affected in that we may need to lose a considerable amount of time from work, but we will not be able to claim for lost income, adding an additional worry at a time when we are already worrying enough. Although  your child is unlikely to ever suffer from a really serious illness, no one knows what the future may bring. If you have to stop working to care for your child, who is going to cover your bills?


Earlier this year I experienced just how difficult life can be when you are caring for a seriously ill child.  Joe was taken into hospital for a routine operation which turned out to be anything but routine. I knew he would have to be at home for two weeks, but complications meant that Joe spent almost six weeks at home. As I worked from home I spent my time looking after Joe, my husband couldn’t afford to take the time off too as we just wouldn’t have been able to pay the mortgage and other bills. But, because my work is freelance and I am self employed, I could not be in a position where I wasn’t working, so I found myself writing during the night, or when Joe fell asleep, when he wasn’t crying out in pain, or needing extra care and cuddles.  Even at night I would struggle, as Joe would get up to use the toilet throughout the night, a consequence of his medication to replace the iron his body had lost through heavy blood loss. It was a time filled with pain and worry, made worse by the constant thought of how I was going to reach deadlines and get work done, without literally driving myself into the ground.


What would’ve made life easier would’ve been if Joe’s dad had been able to take some time from work. But as the main breadwinner, this was not going to happen.  But being signed up to a scheme like ChildMax would’ve been a godsend at the at time. ChildMax is an insurance policy that will reimburse your take home salary for 12 months while you’re on unpaid leave caring for your child. Claim payments are also tax-free. You can choose a policy that will reflect the salary you want to protect, for example, a parent with 2 young children with a £1,800 take home salary per month would expect to pay £106 (Inc. IPT) for the annual insurance policy. If 1 young child, then expect to pay £61 for £1,800 take home salary. Either parent can take out ChildMax, this would’ve really been a big help to us if Pete would’ve able to take that time to help share the care for Joe. (You can find info on policies and applying here.)

Ultimately money does not make up for your child being ill. But if paying bills is one less thing to worry about, that can only be a good thing.


You can find out more about ChildMax through their Facebook page.

Monkey Wellbeing – A fabulous way to make hospital visits less scary

Having to go to hospital is scary at any age. The strange smell, the noise from machines and equipment and just the general unease about what is going to happen to you all go together to make hospitals something that most people are a little fearful of. A trip to hospital for a child is even more frightening especially if that trip is for surgery or involves a blood test or X-Ray. But a new resource created by a mum on a mission, is aiming to make the hospital a slightly less daunting place for infants.


The Monkey Wellbeing resources have been created by Helen Saddler. She wanted to make her 18 month old daughter’s operation stress free, and did this by creating a true life book showing all the different parts of a hospital, the sights, sounds and smells, and all the different people you meet in a hospital setting. But what made this book so child friendly is that everything is being seen through the eyes and mind of a rather adorable monkey who is about to have an operation. Monkey asks all the questions that a child might ask, and so these questions are answered in a very child friendly form.


The Monkey puppet

DSCN7742[1]I was sent a set of the resources to share with Joe, my five-year-old. Joe has spent time in hospital in the last few years due to suffering with viral tonsillitis which causes dangerously high temperatures. On his last visit he experienced a chest X-Ray, numerous blood tests and examinations and had his temperature taken daily. I thought it would be interesting to see how he reacted to the stories and monkey, and whether he would recognise any of his own experiences in Monkey’s story.

Joe fell in love with Monkey. He loved the fact that it is in puppet form (he is currently obsessed with Sooty so this may explain why). Puppet form means that an adult can use it to tell the stories but Joe liked to work it himself and kept commenting on just how cute and cuddly Monkey was. He also decided to call it ‘Milkshake Monkey’ after a famous television character from Channel 5.


A new friend.


He also loved the books and totally identified with what was happening in each story (the second concerns Monkey having a blood test – something that Joe had last year.) He was able to discuss when he had his blood test – he remembered the freezing Jelly and that this stopped his hand from hurting when the needle went in. Joe was also really interested in the story of the operation, wanting to turn the pages quickly to see what happened next.

There are further resources in the pack including stickers and an activity book containing games and information sheets. These make this a great classroom resource as well as great fun to use at home. I really hope the series continues to grow – an X-Ray experience book would be another great idea.


To find out more, visit the Monkey Wellbeing website



Children demonstrate life difficulties after brain injuries through Art

Last week saw a very poignant and special art exhibition take place in the Town Hall Hotel, Bethnal Green in London. The exhibition was of artwork produced by a group of artists who happened to be children and teenagers with an acquired brain injury, and the paintings were an illustration of the difficulties they face in their everyday life.

The art project was organised by Child Brain Injury Trust for Action for Brain Injury Week, and was supported by law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp. The idea behind it was to illustrate that children and teenagers with acquired brain injuries experience difficulties in doing every day tasks that mean things we take for granted become a struggle. These include things like concentration and attention span, social skills, issues with memory, tiredness and fatigue and general communication. By using the work of children who are affected by these very issues, the message is powerfully made.

Lisa Turan, the Chief Executive of the Child Brain Injury Trust charity, explained the importance of the exhibition, saying “These are some of the difficulties faced by children with an acquired brain injury every day. We want this project to not just highlight some of the difficulties children with an acquired brain injury face. But also make adults think about how they act and react to children who may be exhibiting some of these behaviours and who unbeknown to them, have an acquired brain injury.”

There are hopes that the exhibition will travel around the country later on in the year, but, in the meantime, you can see a snapshot of some of the work below.


Collaborative post with Bolt Burdon Kemp.