Parenting foster children can be a challenge at any time of the year, but holidays seem to be extra stressful. There are a ton of parties to attend, gifts to buy, and the financial strain can really bring a person down. Get 8 quick ideas of things to get done in your foster family before the holidays get here so you can have time to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.
Remember all of the Little Things that Make the Season Fun
Do you have extra stockings for foster children entering your home at the last minute? It's not uncommon for a child to arrive on Christmas Eve. How about extra gifts for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa?
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Help Your Foster Children Understand the Season
Most of the foster children that have entered our home have not understood the Christmas holiday. Take time to read a few books. Explain your feelings about the season and help a child learn to enjoy the season on a different level.
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Plan any Gifts for Birth Family Whether from You or the Children
Are you going to give the birth parents a simple gift this holiday? I have given photo albums of their children or framed photos.
What about bus vouchers so that they can get to work or to visits? What a great way to help with the reunification efforts. Keep in mind that some foster children have not experienced giving gifts to others. The concept may not even cross their minds, so be there to lead the way.
Discuss the Dates for Holiday Birth Family Visits
Contact your worker early in the season. Keep an open mind, but also advocate for your family's needs. Remember your holiday schedule and the child's behavior after visits. Remember, most workers need about a two-week notice to make any major change.
Watch for Signs of the Holiday Blues
Holidays can be a difficult time for many foster families. This is traditionally a time for family and for a child who is not with his/her birth family, a time for remembering the ones they’ve had to say good-bye to. All families have their good moments, even if they are few in number. These moments mean the world to foster children in the system. These memories are sometimes the only thing they have left of the birth family. It can, however, be a great bonding moment for foster families - a time to sit down and share memories.
Contact Your Worker about any Travel Dates
If you're planning on leaving town for the holidays, contact your worker well in advance. Most require at least two weeks notice. There needs to be plenty of time for the workers to arrange travel vouchers for the child, or if needed respite if the child is unable to attend.
Plan Activites for the Kids to Enjoy During the Break from School
This could be a great time to work on life books when homework is not a burden. If you start to get a bit cabin crazy look for activities away from home such as attending the YMCA for a swim or the library.
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Prepare Extended Family and Your Foster Children for Family Gatherings
Holidays or big family gatherings are a tough situation for introducing your foster children to your extended family. Your extended family may feel uneasy about your choice to be a foster parent in the first place. Meeting the foster child/ren may help this situation or confirm their fears.