Parenting in the modern world is all about distractions and multi-tasking. It’s crazy and exhausting, isn’t it? How are we supposed to be able to focus on what’s really important!?! Here are some great tips to get the most out of your baby’s medical and therapy appointments.
1. Come prepared!
Make a list of questions. As soon as you decide you are concerned enough to make an appointment, start a list of your observations and concerns. Use your smartphone for your list. That way it is always with you when you think of a question, and you will be less likely to leave it at home on the day of the appointment. If your appointment has anything to do with eating, sleeping, or pooping, keep a journal or a daily log of your baby’s habits, and bring it with you, too.
2. Keep the siblings busy!
Your child (our patient) and the therapist/provider need your full attention. At our clinic, we have books, puzzles, and coloring activities in our waiting room, but do not rely on the clinic to keep the siblings entertained. Bring stuff you know they like and will keep them busy! (I don’t even mind electronics for the siblings in this situation, but please have them use headphones if the games are noisy.)
3. Advocate for your child!
When scheduling an appointment, be assertive (but speak kindly). All of our patients are equally important, so we can’t always make your child our #1 priority (unless it’s their appointment time, of course!) Your children are your highest priority, so you are their best advocate. So don’t wait weeks for the provider’s office to call you, patients can get lost in the shuffle in a busy clinic. (We intentionally keep our clinic small and personal so this doesn’t happen.) Check in every couple of days if you are expecting a call and haven’t heard from them.
4. Ask questions!
Voice your concerns! But save the details for the provider at your appointment. Details left with front desk staff doesn’t usually get passed on to the therapist/provider effectively. Get the most information you can by asking questions at the beginning of your visit, when you have our undivided attention. Please don’t blame your doctor/therapist for overlooking your greatest concerns. Tell her what you are most worried about, then ask for her advice.
Yes, the reality is doctors and therapists are busy. Doctors/ medical providers typically have patients scheduled every 10-15 minutes. Therapy appointments are usually scheduled every 30-60 minutes depending on the clinic or therapist.
As a provider, I do my best to be on time for each patient. If you wait until I’m walking out of the room to speak up, it’s likely you won’t get a thoughtful, thorough answer. (As a mom, when I go to my daughter’s appointments I usually ask the front desk staff how long our appointment is scheduled for, so I can prepare accordingly.
5. Please, listen carefully!
Pay attention! Be involved! Turn your phone to silent! The success of the child’s therapy is directly related to the commitment and involvement of the parents.
Our number one goal is to help you! Just bringing your child to their appointments isn’t enough. Even if the therapist is speaking directly to your child, you still need to be listening so you can reinforce the message at home. If you are expecting an important phone call or you need to leave early, just let us know at the beginning of the appointment. We understand…just give us a heads-up before hand.
6. Write things down!
It is so very normal to have forgotten 90% of what you heard by the time you get home. You have busy mom/dad brains that are already functioning at sub-optimal levels from sleep deprivation and multi-tasking. I love it when parents get out their smartphone or paper and a pen to write down my suggestions! I am always happy to supply a pen and paper if needed. Remember, we are a team–the therapist/provider, the parents, and the child–and the more involved you are as the parent, the more successful your child can be!
7. Expect parent homework!
This is mostly geared toward ongoing therapy appointments. Your providers are more like coaches and teachers. We only get to spend 30-60 minutes with your child one day a week, in most cases. You have the ability to implement change 12 hours a day, every single day!
A home program is an integral part of your child’s treatment plan. We are teaching you what you can do for your child at home. Write down all suggestions and recommendations–then follow through. “Can I take pictures or video, EB?” Yes, of course!
Don’t make excuses as to why you think it’s not going to work. You don’t know unless you try it, right? Be consistent and stick to the plan! Remember, it took a long time for the problem/issue to develop, (or it’s been around since birth,) so don’t expect to see progress or success overnight. Be patient with the plan!
If you’ve given it your best shot and it’s truly not working, then we can adjust the treatment plan accordingly. Then we all can learn from that experience. Win-win!
8. Be honest and communicate!
We are not judging you and ranking you on our list of horrible parents, I promise! It is OK if you didn’t follow through with the recommendations or home program for whatever reason. Just be honest about it, so we have accurate information to re-evaluated the treatment plan. Did you try your best? Thanks all that we can ask for. 🙂
9. Show up and be on time!
Your children cannot benefit from us if you don’t bring them in! This may be a no-brainer for most of you, but you might be surprised to know how often parents cancel last-minute or “no-show” for medical and therapy appointments. Be respectful of your provider’s and other patients’ time. Just give us a call if you can’t make it!
I know, some providers are always running late. But don’t assume it’s OK for you to be late. Most places will not extend your time with the provider/therapist if there is a patient scheduled right after you. They deserve our time, too.
You can always call the office ahead of time to see if they are running way behind. Or just make sure you bring plenty to do while you wait. You can also request the earliest available when you schedule your appointments. This strategy works great for me as a patient and a parent.
10. Consider rescheduling!
If you feel too overwhelmed to keep your appointments and carry out the home program, that’s OK. If other priorities are too time-consuming, you may want to wait to start or continue therapy when you are less busy. We understand, and we want your child to get the most out of their appointments. If the therapy or treatment is really important to you, then you may need to consider rescheduling or getting help with other obligations.
Like I said, you are not SuperMom or Dad the Warrior, and you are trying your best to raise happy, healthy children. Sometimes you’re stellar, sometimes you’re barely keeping it together. Just remember, you are beautifully and imperfectly human, just the way you are.♥
Are you still feeling like you are being pulled in too many directions, and nothing in your life is getting the focus and attention it needs? Read these handy tips in “Simplify Your Life So You Can Focus on Family”
I hope you found this helpful. Do you have any tips that work for you? I would love to hear some “busy bag” suggestions. Those are great!