Saturday, January 21, 2012

I Could Not Be A Foster Parent Without

Well, I could most likely be a foster parent without a few of these - but not a very good one. So take a look at my "must-haves" and add your own foster parenting/straight up parenting necessities in the comments section.

Lots and lots of bins & 3 ring binders
One of my great loves has always been organizing. I truly enjoy cleaning closets and sorting all the things into their correct places. Little did I know how much organizing would be involved in foster parenting. With different kids coming and going on a regular basis with lots of paperwork, different sized clothes, different tastes in toys and bedroom decorations, we move things around a lot over here. A got a good system with lots of bins going in the beginning for clothes and toys but found myself swimming in paperwork once the kids started arriving. So now, each kid/sibling group gets a 3 ring binder that all of their papers go into, with sections for doctors visits/meds, school info/papers, official documents from court/etc and one for art done by the kids/letters to and from kids and anything I think is worth saving. It makes it easier when the time comes to work on life books.

Trained babysitters
I am sure that every state has different regulations for who can/cannot babysit foster kids, but in my state, they require background checks, fingerprints, and a few classes. I have some pretty amazing friends and my parents who jumped through the hoops and now are INVALUABLE for me, especially since I am a single foster parent who works part-time.

Fragrance-free shampoo/laundry detergent/soap
SO MANY of the kids I have had over the years have skin issues. So I stalk up on fragrance-free soaps of all kinds. After a while, we mix in other soaps one by one, but why make an issue where there doesn't need to be one. Stick with fragrance-free everything.

Not advertising here, but oh my, I love Netflix. I have a Wii that is hooked up to the internet, so we can watch Netflix (movies and TV) through my real TV in the living room. I love it. I can have Dora ready for the 3-year old that walks through my door and iCarly for the pre-teen. With no additional purchases of whatever movies the kids may like at the time. Love it! Saves me so much time. Also, it's nice as I can put a parental block on it, so kids cannot watch and cannot see (and thus beg to watch) TV that is too old for them. (I also purposefully do not have a regular TV - too many unnecessary battles over TV shows they could watch before but are not allowed to watch here.)

Cleaning supplies
One of my funnier stress relievers is cleaning. It makes me feel like I have some say in my life when it feels like I have none. I enjoy cleaning and boy are kids messy. And somehow, even though I have done this for years and know surprise visits don't happen much, I always want it spik and span because in this field you never know who might show up at your doorstep.

Coffee, Music & grown-up friends
A big issue during the home-study process was, "What do you do when you are stressed?" For me, my answer was - drink a cup of coffee, call a friend and listen to music. This life IS stressful. There is a myriad of people who need your attention, your time and all your energy - and I'm not even talking about the kids. :) Sometimes release stress is necessary - never-mind, not sometimes, ALL the time.

So, for the time being, these 6 things make my life better and my home a better place to be. In your world, what could you not foster-parent without?

More things I Could Not Be a Foster Parent Without, 2.


  1. Also a single, working foster mama, and I DEFINITELY could not foster without an incredibly supportive boss and co-workers. Three years into this now, and they are "old pros" at this foster care thing too. ;-) They know how busy I am the first couple of weeks after a new placement. They know to expect at least one or two days a month of me taking off to try to cram in multiple home visits, appointments, etc. They know I will have tons of personal phone calls and emails... And they are okay with it! They are awesome. Enough said.

    I am also quite attached to my super-cool, mega-sized day planner. My LIFE (and my kids' lives) are in that thing, and it is my lifeline when it comes to filling out paperwork for my agency and answering random questions that inevitably come up throughout the month.

    1. @Tammy, how awesome that you have a supportive boss and co-workers, so, so important! Sounds like you have a great set up. Many of my FP friends have go to paper planners and the like, but I am just too addicted to my google calendar. And I figure, if the end of all technology happens or something, it won't really matter if we make it to the next dentist apt. :) But I can totally picture your super-cool, mega-sized planner in my head.

  2. Oh my gosh, I'm so with you on Netflix. Between reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at night and watching Super Why during the day, I had a couple of two-year-olds who were not only distracted long enough for me to clean things, but who could also identify every letter of the alphabet by the time they left my care. (I also taught them to work the Wii remote...this might not be the best example of good parenting.)

    My biggest foster parenting necessity, besides so many of the ones you listed, is the local park. Sometimes just getting out of the house for the afternoon and letting them run around like crazies keeps me sane for one more day.

  3. @Chazley - so true. The local park and free admission to anywhere is amazing!

  4. Two things that we find really helpful: a dimmer switch on their bedroom light. Even with the older kids, we leave the light on full strength, tell them they can turn it down if they want to, then leave it to them. Mostly it will stay on all night to start with, and as they start to feel safe they will dim the light.
    The other useful thing we do is put signs on doors. We have a big house and new kids tend to get lost, especially little ones. So we put their name (and photo if they are little) on their bedroom door, and have names and pictures for the other kids bedrooms too, plus a picture on the bathroom door. On the wall near the kitchen is a photo of our family with the names of everybody, to help new kids learn all the names.

    1. I like these! I am defiantly going to think about doing the dimmer switch trick. So helpful and such an easy way to let them control it.

  5. we couldnt do without my very supportive parents, they are always there if a disaster arises, have been police checked etc so they can babysit all of our kids not just our biologicals, all of the foster children love my parents and call them nan and pop. everyone at work is also very supportive and understand when things get really stressful. most of all couldnt do without our two bio daughters, they share their toys,clothes, belongings, home, their hearts and most of all their parents and grandparents with the many foster children whom find their way to our home.

    1. Gotta lobe a supportive family! And yeah, those siblings of the new foster kids have to rock it. Glad your's are able to, they will reap the benefits in growing up with a completely different worldview of their peers and hopefully large doses of empathy.

  6. I hope this question doesn't come across as rude, because I ask only because I was previously married and we were foster parents, and I am since divorced and desperately want to foster again...
    however, how do you manage on just one PT income?

    1. Not rude at all, it was one of the biggest questions I had myself going into this! I am lucky enough to run my own photography business, that helps keep me flexible. When I don't have kids, I do more photo sessions and when my house is full of little ones, I stay home. Other than that, we live simply and somehow it works. I am amazed every day. :)


It'll be a pleasure hearing your thoughts. Alisa

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