Twice a day, every day my toddler must sit still for a full 30 minutes. During this time, she wears The Vest, part of her treatment for cystic fibrosis. This half-hour chunk of time right after waking up and right before dinner allows me some time to either get something done (like throwing on clothes, unloading the dishwasher or cooking dinner) or have some one-on-one time with her. Either way, in order to get her to stay, she has to be entertained.
Every day, thousands of children will sit down to wear either The Vest or use a nebulizer, whether it's to get over an illness or as part of their daily routine. The only way for parents to survive it with a smile is to make sure their child is smiling too.
DVDs and TVs
This is the perfect time to let your child watch her favorite show or DVD. I had never imagined letting my child watch any television before the age of two. But once she could roll over and get away from her PT session, we needed a way to distract her. Enter Baby Einstein. In our house, TV time doesn't exist without The Vest. (Well, maybe we don't always stick to that rule.) This makes for the perfect mesmerized-by-Elmo moment to make those 30 minutes fly by.
Kids love video games. The same rule that applies to TV time can be applied here. Right now my daughter is so enthralled with the games at sesamestreet.org that when I ask her if she's ready to play a game on the computer, she responds with, "Yes, and put on my vest too!"
Treatment time is also a great opportunity to play and bond as a family. Pull out a puzzle. Play Chutes and Ladders. Maybe even play a video game together. Anything you can think of to make therapy time fun for the whole family will help your child feel like she's not missing out or suffering through her treatment.
Some days my daughter just wants to color while she does her treatment. Other days, she stands at the coffee table and plays with her Play-Doh. She loves to be creative, and having a variety of arts and crafts for her to enjoy during this time is a great way to keep her calm during The Vest.
If there are any special toys that your child loves, this is a great time to break them out. My daughter has colored pencils that she can't use without supervision. We use those to draw pictures together during her therapy. She also loves her large Little People collection. When she wants to play with those during The Vest, the coffee table becomes a village that includes a house, a farm, a boat, an airplane, and even a Christmas nativity scene. While she shakes away in her Vest, she narrates a story of what her Little People are up to.
Treatments don't have to be torture and we don't have to pin our kids down in order to get them to comply. Find a way to make it fun for them and soon they will be (mostly) happy to participate in treatment time. In fact, the other day, my daughter was wearing her Vest and watching a show with her cousins when one cousin rested her foot on a hose to the Vest, and my daughter exclaimed with pride and possessiveness, "No! It's my Vest!"