We know that Christmas can be a stressful time for foster children. With lots of strange traditions and activities that might affect their routine, or trigger certain emotions and behaviors. So it’s not unusual for new or potential foster carers to have questions on how to handle Christmas as a foster carer.
So we’ve spoken to Hazel, our very own foster carer from Monmouthshire. She’s hoping to put some of those worries and concerns to bed, with her own tips on how to handle Christmas as a foster carer.
“There is nothing set in stone as how to handle Christmas, as every child and household is different but here are some ideas that work for us.”
Dec the Halls
During December we start to make decorations together. No pressure is put on the child to help, but inevitably they will appear and want to help. Once they see it is fun and they get to spend 1:1 time with you.
When food shopping I buy Christmas cooking kits, biscuits, cakes etc. and again we make these together. This can also be a great opportunity to learn some life skills and improve their reading without them knowing, as they help to read the instructions.
A festive walk
We also love to take a walk in the evening to look at Christmas lights. This can be very exciting but for us it was very scary to start with as it was dark. If this is the case for your little one, take it slowly and just do a road or two to start with and build up their confidence about going out in the dark.
Make your own routine’s
On Christmas Eve we leave the stocking for Father Christmas in the sitting room, as it can be a scary thought that someone is coming into your bedroom. We leave the usual plate of goodies for Father Christmas as well. I let the child pick what is left and often something for themselves. Yes sometimes they may leave a weird and wonderful plate full of food, does it matter? No not at all.
On Christmas Day we are very lucky as it is only myself and my little one. I chose not to visit family on Christmas Day because my little one feels safe and secure at home with me. We can visit my family on other days and they are all so understanding.
Slow and steady win’s the race
I tend to go with the flow as much as possible. We unwrap one present at a time so as not to be too overwhelmed. Last year he played with each toy afterwards for ages so it took us two days to unwrap everything. Again no problem at all, nothing says you have to have everything unwrapped by a certain time.
Go with the flow
When it comes to Christmas Dinner, I do not plate up the food but let the child help put what they fancy on the plate. Often I give a choice for pudding so that they have some say in what is eaten for lunch.
Wherever possible go with the flow, don’t rush things and have fun.