Preparing for a new child to enter your home through foster care is both exciting and apprehensive.
Usually we have less than twenty-four hours to get everything ready before the child is walking through the front door.
There are ten things that I try to do when I’m preparing for a new child to arrive.
This is usually the first thing on my list as it’s the most important. When the social worker arrives with the new child, they will both want to see where they will be sleeping and make sure there is a place for their things. I like to keep a variety of bedding options on hand to pull out so I can accommodate boys or girls of the age range we typically foster. I prepare the bed, do a quick tidy of the room and make sure there is plenty of room for clothing, diapers, etc. If it’s an older child it’s nice to make sure there’s an empty hook in the hall closet for coats and backpack, a drawer or toothbrush holder in the bathroom and space in the bedroom for things they don’t want to share.
Make a list of questions to ask the social worker upon arrival.
I am in the process of putting together a binder and printouts that I can use each time so I don’t have to rethink this one every time, but before they arrive I like to jot down any questions I have, dates to share and reminders for myself to bring up during our conversation. The important ones are questions about routines for the child, medical concerns, contact info of the placing worker, and what to expect for access with biological family. All of this should have been shared already over the phone or be included in the folder given at the time of placement but it never hurts to cover the main things twice.
Pull out appropriate clothes, toys, equipment, etc.
I have a collection of baby equipment, clothes and toys in storage that are not currently being used. When a new child is on their way I like to pull out any bins of clothing I think might fit and any equipment such as baby carriers, swings, rockers, etc I might want to use. It’s nice to know what I have in case a child arrives with very little clothing, toys, etc. This also helps me know what might need to go on my shopping list.
The last thing you’re going to want to do within the first few days of a new placement is run to the store for food, so if there’s time I scope out the fridge and sneak in a shopping trip before the child’s arrival. Included on that grocery list will be easy, kid friendly foods that most children will find comforting and familiar such as Kraft Dinner, chicken fingers, french fries and pizza. I also like to make sure I have diapers, wipes, formula, toothbrushes, etc. Some of these I keep on hand regularly.
I like to be able to focus on settling in the new arrival without having to worry about us all having clothes to wear, so I often throw in a load or two of laundry as I’m waiting.
Whether the child is expected to arrive first thing in the morning or nearly bedtime, I try to think ahead to the next couple meals and make sure I have some easy options available that won’t take too much time or attention on my part.
Simplify my calendar.
In between placements, I try to keep going on as normal and planning life, even though I know those plans could be cancelled at any minute. When I know for sure a new child is arriving, I always take a look at the next few weeks of my calendar and see if there’s anything that needs to be, or could be, eliminated. This is also a good time to make sure there are no appointments, family plans, etc that you are going to require respite care, babysitting or special permission to take the child along for. It’s good to bring those things up sooner rather than later, even though the child may have already left your home by the time you reach that date.
Whether it’s the bathrooms, bedrooms, floors or the fridge…if there’s a corner that has been bothering me for the last little while I try to get it cleaned before the child arrives as there’s no guarantee when the next opportunity might be! Truthfully if I get to this one, it probably means the arrival is taking longer than expected and I’m having trouble waiting patiently! 🙂
Take a shower and wash my hair.
Particularly if there is a baby or toddler coming I try to get this done as it can be very difficult during the first couple days of getting a little one settled.
Okay, so we all know this one is usually unrealistic. Who has time to nap, especially while getting ready to welcome a new little person into your home! Even if I do manage to lie down, my mind is usually too busy to be able to actually sleep. It would, however, be a really great choice if you were able to do it! Especially if you are about to bring a baby into your home. Even older children will rarely sleep well the first week in a new home so bank up if you can!
And that’s it!
My top ten “Get Ready for a New Placement” goals.
What about you?
Anything you like to get done between the phone ringing and the front door opening?
I’d love to hear them!