The festive period can be hard for children looked after, and seemingly innocuous things can trigger certain emotions and behaviours. So it’s not unusual for new or potential foster carers to have questions, on how to survive Christmas as a foster carer.
So meet our very own foster carer from Caerphilly. They are hoping to put some of those worries and concerns to bed, with her own guide on how to surviving Christmas as a foster carer.
Do not expect Christmas to be as you know it…
My first Christmas I expected the kids to be mesmerised and blown away. Little did I know it was one of the toughest Christmases I’ve ever had. The kids couldn’t handle it. Whether that was because Christmas is a time they miss their birth families. Or because we may be celebrated Christmas differently from what they were used to. Maybe they weren’t used to having lots of presents waiting for them on Christmas morning.
Talk to the children before hand
A good tip I’ve got is, talk to the children before. Ask them how they celebrated Christmas with their birth families. Ask them if there’s certain things or certain traditions that they would like to do, and ask them IF you could be part of it or not. They may not want you to be directly involved and would prefer you to just help them set it up. But maybe a few years later then they will include you when they feel more settled. Explain your own traditions also, they’ll feel more involved if they know how or when the tradition started.
Make your own tradition!
Make a brand new tradition that includes all the new members of your family, everyone can give their input and they’ll always remember where it came from and feel a valued, special member of the family.
Get ready for some “ungratefulness”. Unfortunately as I have seen some children don’t know how to accept lovely new toys and their senses go into overload. They can often feel unworthy of them. This can result in them breaking said new toys and destroying other children’s toys. It’s heart-breaking to see, especially after you’ve spent the last few months carefully choosing each present for them and wondering what the look on their face will look like when they open it, only to find it in 100 broken pieces.
Acknowledge past traditions
Always acknowledge when they say something along the lines of “with mum and dad we did this” open up the conversation a little, let them know it’s ok to feel a little sad about missing their birth families, especially at Christmas.
Also remember to enjoy it. Yes, it can make you want to cry, yes you can be mentally exhausted, but I will never forget the looks on their faces when we went to see Santa,. Or how excited they are in their matching PJ’s sprinkling reindeer dust on the front garden on Xmas Eve. Or the sheer excitement when you open the living room door on Christmas morning and their voices screech! I’ve shared these moments with them, and they with me, and it makes it all so magical.
And if all else fails……. Open the eggnog!