Foster parenting can be daunting no matter how many times you’ve done it; every new child under your care brings a new experience and personality. For first-timers, however, this fear can be exacerbated by the idea of what to expect and the pressures of being the best foster parent you can be.
To alleviate the worry and get you in the right mindset, here are some great pieces of advice that every foster parent needs to hear.
- Routine Is Going to Make All the Difference
This is key as the first piece of advice because it pertains to both you as a parent and your foster child themselves. A routine will help your child cope with a new situation and ease them into their environment better than they would otherwise have without one.
Overall, a routine for you as a parent is going to enable you to make a better plan for each and every day. Plus, open communication about what the day holds and what kind of routine your child can expect in your home will make for an easier transition.
- Make Rules Very Clear
It’s important never to make assumptions about what your foster child might say, do or be aware of. They could have come from a very different situation and witnessed completely different parenting methods in the past.
Rules are essential – as well as stating them clearly – for your new foster child. Let them know what they can and can’t do in your home. If you like shoes to be taken off at the door, don’t assume they’ll do it automatically if you’re used to everyone already knowing, for example. Even if things seem like the most obvious rule, it still needs to be spoken.
- You’ll Need a Great Support Network
Surround yourself with people you can rely on and help you through this transitional time. Having your friends and family close at hand will make all the difference when dealing with the new pressures of being a foster parent.
It’s important to think of more than your home network, too. There are plenty of support groups out there for foster parents who may need it, as well as being able to look for support from the foster care agencies themselves, like those you can find at orangegrovefostercare.co.uk.
- Expect Mealtimes and Bedtimes to Be a Challenge
At bedtime, your child will be in a completely new bed, in a new room, in a new place, which means they’re possibly going to feel vulnerable when the lights go out. They may have also been exposed to traumatic events in their past. Not only that, but mealtimes might see them revealing a difficult eating routine, picky preferences, or maybe even not being overly trustful about what you’re providing. It will take time and effort to build a healthy bedtime and eating routine.
A lot of the best advice given to foster parents can be about forward-planning. This relates to routine, what you can expect from your child, the rules you want to set in place, and the things you can implement to make situations easier (such as a nightlight for the bedroom). Make sure to set your home (and yourself) up in the best possible way so that you and your foster child are both much more likely to get the most out of what can be an incredibly rewarding experience.