Being a Foster Carer at Christmas

Being a Foster Carer at Christmas

We know Christmas can be an emotional time for looked after children. With lots of strange traditions and activities that might affect their routine, or trigger emotions and behaviours. Its therefore not unusual for new or potential foster carers to have questions about Christmas as a foster carer.

So, we’ve spoken to Maz, our very own foster carer from Cardiff. Maz and her family have been fostering with Foster Wales Cardiff for just over 4 years and love it. She’s hoping to answer some of those Christmas questions, with her very own tips on being a foster carer at Christmas.

What made you want to become a foster carer?

My own experiences through childhood. I was in and out of foster care myself before I was adopted. As my own personal experiences with foster care wasn’t great, I wanted to make life better for those who are in foster care now.

What was your first Christmas like as a foster carer?

To be honest very similar and normal for our family because we were fostering a new-born baby at the time. They slept the whole day and only woke around Christmas dinner time and then went back to sleep.

However, another Christmas where we had a slightly older child was very different to our normal Christmases. With him getting very over excited, over stimulated, and not being able to open his presents all in one go, so he had to space them out throughout the day.

Do you have any tips on being a foster carer at Christmas?

Having had experience now with an older child and their first Christmas not being what we had expected it to be. We have realised that less is more and not to over stimulate. For example, massive piles of present are very daunting, and they are better off with a smaller pile of presents but of greater quality.

Also spacing presents out throughout the entire day. Although our own birth children like to open them first thing in the morning, we want to encourage the children to open presents when they feel like it. If presents are still being opened on boxing day, it’s not the end of the world.

We have also discovered that a strange person called ‘Father Christmas’ coming into the house can be very upsetting for children who have been in traumatic situations before coming into care. So, we have a discussion at the beginning of every December about Father Christmas and where the children feel he should leave the presents so that they feel comfortable and safe.

What do you find most rewarding as a foster carer?

The most rewarding part for me is seeing how the children grow and develop over the time they are with us. For the baby’s it’s seeing them reach new milestones. For the older children it’s amazing to see them come out of their shell and start opening up and gaining confidence in themselves.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a foster carer?

You need to be flexible, understanding and patient. It’s important to build networks with other foster carers and social workers, so that you have people behind you who know what you’re going through. Be ready to open your heart and let these children in fully, they need your love and attention but be prepared to say goodbye because it will be sad. It’s the most rewarding job in the world.

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