Becoming a foster parent is incredibly exciting. But, it can also cause some of those nervous butterflies in your stomach. You want everything to go as smoothly as possible, and that requires some preparation before your foster kids arrive.
One of the best things you can do is to create a welcoming, comfortable, and safe space for the kids. That might mean focusing on one bedroom or play area or revamping your entire house to make it the ideal place for kids.
Whatever you decide to do, consider going the extra mile to make them feel at home. Many foster kids have experienced trauma in their lives. Some may even have health issues because of their birth parents. Feeling safe and comfortable in a home with a new family can make a big difference in their growth and development.
With that, let’s cover a few tips you can use to make them feel at home right away.
Make Sure Your Home is Safe
Your top priority should be safety. Go through your home and look for anything that might need to be repaired or any potential hazards for children. If your house is older, take care with any remodeling jobs. Some homes built before the 1970s contain asbestos. Exposure to the substance can cause everything from respiratory difficulties to lung cancer. In children, those effects can happen even faster and have more damaging long-term effects.
Other common household dangers to be aware of include:
- Dangerous chemicals not being locked away
- Choking hazards
- Windows not reinforced
- Stairs not blocked
- Doors and furniture that could fall
- Electrical outlets
Obviously, these hazards depend on the age of your foster children. But, if you’re going to be housing little ones, going through your home with a keen eye for safety will give you peace of mind while they’re living there.
It’s also important to keep your entire home clean. Use the right products and avoid using harsh chemicals that could contribute to health problems. If you’re taking care of a child with health issues like asthma or allergies, cleanliness is important for their well-being, but so are the products you clean with. Go natural whenever possible.
Make Your Home Their Home
No matter how long you foster children, it’s important for them to feel like a part of the family right away.
Having their own room is one of the most effective things you can do in making them feel welcome. Even if they feel comfortable in the whole house, that specific area that’s “theirs” will make a big difference. Age-appropriate toys, their own clothes, and even their own pictures are all great ways to let them know they’re included.
Your behaviors and actions will mean a lot, too. Include them in meal planning by asking about their favorite foods. Hang up their artwork from school on the refrigerator. Give them chores around the home so they’re doing the same things as everyone else. These things will establish a familial connection and a sense of permanency.
Speaking of permanency, it’s always important to consider what you want and what’s best for your foster kids on a long-term basis. That’s why many foster parents end up adopting.
If you think that’s a route you want to take, you might even consider moving into a bigger home, or one that’s closer to a school in your district. Doing so will allow your foster children to become part of a community. Plus, if you ever decide to sell years from now, being near a school will boost your home value.
Creating a welcoming space for foster kids doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. At the end of the day, showing them that someone cares about them and values them is the best thing you can do. When you adequately express that, they’ll feel more at home than ever.
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