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Benefits of Fostering Blog

Helen’s Fostering Blog

Fostering – The effect it had on us.

Beth and Harry have been living with us for other 18 months now and whilst we often reflect on how  far the children have come on, we also have to acknowledge and think about the changes this has had on our life and how we have had to change and had to evolve.

Our lives changed over night when Beth and Harry arrived. For a very long time our life was no longer our own.

All of sudden we had two children who depended on us and needed our undivided support and attention.  They quickly became the centre of everything we did and talked about.  For about a year many of our own wants and needs were put to one side.

The impact this had on our relationship and our relationships with our family and friends was noticeable.   It doesn’t help that at the beginning you are still only just starting to developed friendships with other foster carers, so you can’t even speak to someone else who would understand.

For a long time I felt like the only thing I ever thought or talked about were the children.  I had almost lost my own identity, I didn’t have time or energy for my own interests or seeing friends and family.

At the time you are not even aware of this, it’s only when you speak to someone for the first time in a while and you notice you have nothing to talk about other than the children.  I can recall on the odd occasion my husband and I would go out for dinner we used to make a pact that we wouldn’t talk about the children, at times I found it hard to think of things to say because the children were the only thing that was happening in my life at that point.

You have to change quite a lot when you foster, for instance I’m not someone that swears a great deal but all of sudden you need to think about what you are saying, what you are wearing around the house, remembering to take your clothes into the bathroom to change into after a shower, my husband can no longer shout at the telly when West Ham score a goal.

If you’re having a disagreement with your husband you need to go into another room and whisper, rather than just voicing your opinion.  It’s hard and takes a lot of getting used to.  These are all things you wouldn’t have to think about it they were your own children.

Unfortunately for us we didn’t really have many family or close friends that could look after the children for us, only my sister.

During our assessment we had suggested that we would use a babysitting service, this was agreed to at the beginning but when we came round to using this service its was deemed unsuitable.

We didn’t really have a suitable alternative, so we just had to wait till the children visited their grandparents and we are lucky to have this as a possibility as many carers don’t.  So we couldn’t even go out for dinner with my sister and her partner.  This was one of the things we found the most difficult.

I missed our get-togethers so much and especially after losing my brother I needed this more than ever.  Thankfully this situation has now been resolved but it all takes such a long time.

Whilst we understood that fostering would change our lives, I don’t think we were quite prepared for the changes it had on us and our relationships.

Thankfully I am pleased to say now that the children have settled and we have settled into our new way of life, we have started to find ourselves again. 

Whilst the children still remain at the centre of all of our decisions we are slowly managing to re-align the balance and getting used to a new normal.

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer

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Life Skills Blog

Helen’s Fostering Blog

Life Skills

Looking after yourself helps develop essential life skills.

These skills need to be taught at home through experiences and examples set by those around them.   Learning kindness, patience, positivity, belie in oneself and others, understanding, reasoning and how to keep ourselves safe and healthy are not only essential life skills they are good for our self esteem, self worth and self belief.

When Beth and Harry came to live with us, they were behind for their age in many ways.  It was hard at the beginning because we wanted to strike a balance between letting them be parented and cared for as they had missed out on so much of that but also help them develop independent skills.

On a day to day basis we work on these skills without even thinking about it most of the time, although myself and my husband are often talking about what else we need to concentrate on to help the Beth and Harry learn new skills.  It has been very rewarding to see them grow and flourish in all aspects of these all-important life skills.

Health and eating habits

We have watched YouTube videos, read books, always setting a good example and had countless conversations about hygiene, healthy eating and the importance of being active.

Beth will be 11 in the summer and it’s only been in the last 6 months that she has learnt to wash her hair herself.  I have now started to teach Beth how to safely run her own bath, remembering to take her pj’s into the bathroom with her.  At first, she was really worried about doing this but very quickly seems to be taking it in her stride.  I suspect it will take about a month of me helping before I feel comfortable with her doing it herself.

First Aid

It is essential for children to know what their home address is, to learn important telephone numbers, who to call in an emergency.  What we have noticed is that children watch a lot of American tv, and they think the number they need to call is 911 not 999.

We are currently researching basic first aid that we can do with the children to help them learn these skills.

Doing your bit

Taking responsibility for ourselves.  Even if it is getting their bag ready for school, bringing plates and cups into the kitchen.  Helping lay the table for dinner, even helping cook dinner.  Making their beds each morning and choosing weather/ activity appropriate clothing to wear each day.  These can give us a sense of responsibility.

Managing Time

Rather than waking them up each morning, we have now set their alarm clocks for them to get up and start getting ready without being asked.  Help them learn to manage and understand time.  Ensuring they build in time during their day to get their homework done.  Which will help them understand dividing up their time for work/play.

Decision making

Giving options, pointing out the different outcomes, i.e. you will need to complete your homework over the weekend, would you rather get it all done in one go or spilt it over the weekend.  There are advantages to both options but that is where our personality comes in to play on what works best for each individual.

Managing Money

In our household each of the children get £5 a week.  We encourage them to save this money otherwise all they can really buy is tat or sweets and chocolate.  By encouraging them to save their money they are learning that they can buy something better and that they will get more enjoyment out of.

If we are planning a weekend away or holiday, we also encourage Beth and Harry to save their pocket money so that they can spend it whilst we are away, on these occasions we give them an incentive explaining we will match the money they have saved so they have even more to spend.

Teaching them to manage their money at an early age will hopefully help them hone in on their ability to budget, planning and saving and most importantly learning the value of money.

Basic cooking skills

Getting the children to learn basic skills by making their own sandwich, or cutting up their fruit, pouring their own drinks.   Kids love baking, especially getting to lick the bowl afterwards.  Not only is it fun it helps them understand about preparation, following instructions, weighing out the ingredients, timings and keeping ourselves safe from the possible dangers.   They will learn the importance of hygiene by keeping the kitchen and themselves clean.

Communication skills and how to behave appropriately

Explaining appropriate behaviour whilst out in a restaurant, for instance not running around or talking so loudly that they disturb other dinners. To have the confidence to politely order their own food.  I always encourage the children when arriving for an appointment for them to approach the counter themselves and explain who they have an appointment with and be able to give their own details when asked.

Seeing things from someone else’s perspective

Often when the children have had an issue with a friend at school or with their sibling, we help the children to try and see it from the other persons perspective. 

By helping point out the possible reasons why someone may have reacted to a situation helps them see things from someone else point of view. 

Learning to look past their own feelings and try to understand others.

These are just a few examples, and obviously new skills will need to be developed as they grow into adulthood, but we hope we are on the right track and we are starting to bridge the gap in their learning. 

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer

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Coronavirus | Home Schooling

Helen’s Fostering Blog

Adjusting to home schooling and being at home.

As a family we are now on day 10 of self-isolating due to the Coronavirus.  We continue to keep our days well structured and busy.  We are enjoying the benefits of structuring our week as it means we  still look forward to the downtime at the weekend.

On Monday we started doing the Joe Wicks morning exercise on YouTube.  The first day was a learning curve for us all, as Harry found out that wearing skinny jeans wasn’t particularly appropriate clothing as he was unable to bend his knees.  It was a lot of fun but scary to see how unfit both Beth and Harry actually are.  At the end of the first session they were both laid out on the floor exhausted, what is inspiring is to see that for everyday that we do it they are finding it much easier.

We are constantly reviewing our curriculum timetable for Beth and Harry.  What we are finding is whist Harry is younger he is coping much better with his learning than Beth.   We are doing a balancing act between making it achievable for them both at their individual level and keeping it fun and interesting.

When we notice that their level of interests depletes, we need to respond to this by putting in something educational but more fun.  For instance, this week we watched an episode of the Blue Planet and then just asked them some questions about it afterwards.

When we hear the groans after explaining that we would be doing some science after lunch we sometimes swap it for baking.  What we really want to avoid is home schooling to become a real chore for them.   We are putting in rewards for their effort, such as finishing early on Friday and us all watching a movie together and ordering a new game for their PlayStation.

We are still having a lot of fun with our school days, each day starts with a new School Head, the day it was my turn, I borrowed one of the children’s bike helmet and run in pretending to be out of breath as I had just cycled to school. I explained my name was Mrs Penelope Plum and I was a lot of fun, but unfortunately sometimes have a smelly bum. I also introduced my husband as our supply PE teacher and gave him the name of Mr Pickle Pants.  Beth and Harry love all this, so it starts the day with a lot of laughter.

This week we had our Values Lesson, whereby we watched a YouTube video of a 9-year-old boy asking expert questions about the Coronavirus.  This allowed us to have an open conversation about their concerns and worries.

I also read them a poem about the Coronavirus which I have copied below.  All of these things are helping them understand this new and strange world we have currently found ourselves living in.

The Time We Spring -Cleaned the World

The world it got so busy,

There were people all around.

They left their germs behind them,

In the air and on the ground

 

These germs grew bigger and stronger.

They wanted to come and stay.

They didn’t want to hurt anyone

They just really wanted to play

 

Sometimes they tried to hold your hand,

Or tickled your throat or your nose.

They could make you cough and sneeze

And make your face as red as a red.

 

And so, these germs took over.

They started to make people ill,

And with every cough we coughed

More and more germs would spill.

 

All the queens and kings had a meeting.

Its time to clean the world up, they said

And so, they had to close lots of fun stuff,

Just so these germs couldn’t spread.

 

We couldn’t go to cinemas

Or restaurants for out tea.

There was no football and parties

The world got as quiet as can be.

 

The kids stopped going to school,

The mums and dads went to work less.

Then a great, big, giant scrubbing brush

Cleaned the sky and the sea and the mess.

 

Dads started teaching the sums,

Big brothers played with us more,

Mums were in charge of homework

And we read and played jigsaws galore.

 

The whole world was washing their hands

And building super toilet roll forts

Outside was quiet and peaceful,

Now home was the place for all sports.

 

So, we played in the world that was home

And our days filled up with fun and love,

And the germs they grew smaller and smaller

And the sun watched from up above.

 

Then one morning the sun woke up early,

She smiled and stretched her beams wide.

The world had been fully spring cleaned,

It was time to go back outside.

 

We opened our doors oh so slowly

And breathed in the clean and fresh air.

We promised that forever and always

Of this beautiful world we’d take care.

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer.