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Preparing A Bedroom for Foster Care (Part 1)

Foster Bedroom 1 It’s hard to believe, but if all goes smoothly the next few weeks, our home will be certified as a foster home by the end of the month! We have two more classes to complete and a few more T’s to cross and I’s to dot, but it looks like it’s going to happen, and SOON! I wanted to share with you how we’ve been preparing a bedroom for foster care.

With over a week off of work, I’ve been working on de-cluttering our house, particularly the extra bedroom, preparing it for foster care and for the kids that our agency will send our way! It is so exciting! This room has been many things over the years:  a nursery for Spencer, a shared bedroom for both boys, a “guest” room (though we never had a spare bed in there, just an air mattress – much to the chagrin of our guests!), and a game room. There have been several occasions over the years where we almost re-did it as a man cave for Brandon but it never happened and I guess there’s a reason for that! 🙂

We have some awesome friends that you’ll hear about in this post who have helped this room get outfitted for our new family members, whether those children stay for a week, months, or years. We are so grateful to these people and those who are surrounding us with prayer as we get ready for this new adventure! The first friends you’ll hear about are Jacob and Brenda, who work with us at our church. They are giving (GIVING!) us a set of bunk beds that their daughter hasn’t used! Those beds will be set up as twin beds tomorrow. You’ll see pics in Part 2!

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We decided to purchase gray bedding for the beds for the in-between stage. Gray is so chic (yeah, I said chic) and looks great with almost every color! So depending on the age and gender of the kids we have placed with us, we will get some decorative pillows and accents for the room – how cute will these look, paired with a hot pink, sky blue, or bright orange pillow set? Also, these blankets are super warm, and will work under a printed comforter that we’ll pick out with the kids.

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On the dresser, which had been upstairs in the bonus/play room (kind of randomly holding craft supplies), I have a little basket with some toiletries, new toothbrushes, an extra throw blanket, extra nightlights, and a few other things, including the book Maybe Days, which my parents gave us at Christmas.

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I don’t expect the kids to use hotel shampoos and soaps, I just want them to have something that is THEIRS right away and we will pick out their favorite scents and colors later. An awesome friend that I’ve never met in person, Jennifer, ordered some items from our Foster/Adopt Amazon Wish List — a Tracfone, which I’ve seen recommended for kids’ phone calls with their biological parents [See my update on this here], and a box of individually wrapped toothbrushes! How sweet is that??

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I also found this cute little print at Walmart ($3.97!) and thought it was perfect for the room, with the gray and yellow!

Today we worked on peeling off the car decals we’ve had on the wall since Miles was little. Man those things are sticky! They also peeled off a lot of paint, so we’ll patch those spots this week. The final awesome friends that you’ll hear about today are Tom and Jenny, who saw that I wanted this wall print for the bedroom and said “GET IT! We’ll reimburse you for it and you can consider it an ‘open for fostering’ present!”

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Perfect, right? I have my eye on another print of the same size at Big Lots that says “So many of my smiles begin with you” to go on the other side of the window.

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This week we’ll be finishing up the beds and also my clothing stash. I have so many friends (Renee, Carrie, Rachel, and Angela) who have blessed us with hand-me-downs for the boys and now our future foster children! We have an incredible amount of clothes on hand — so much that I’m not sure where to keep them all and I was able to get together two bags and a big box of clothes to take to our foster care agency, who wants to start a clothing swap for their families!

Ready for Part 2??

Been There, Done That foster parents, do you have any suggestions?



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About Krista

Krista is a full-time working mom of two boys, currently aged 6 and 7. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, Brandon.

Comments

  1. (Posted on FB also) How do you like “Maybe Days”? Do you think it would be appropriate for children that may be adoptable in the future? (We are a foster-to-adopt home).
    I have brainstormed a list of goodies for a bin for our kiddos-to-come too. Other ideas – crayons, colored pencils, small notebook/drawing pad, and the bin will be there’s to keep things in. 🙂
    Prayers for you and your family!

  2. Oh man, I didn’t realize you guys were doing this too! We could have talked about it in our swimsuits when we ran into each other at Great Wolf Lodge! 😛

    Great ideas! I’m going to get a few little things that I can give as gifts (little bracelets for girls, something else for boys) for when they leave us.

  3. Bradley Clark says:

    Here’s a few things we had to deal with when our family doubled in size 6 yrs ago (random rememberings in no particular order):

    1) We knew there would be a lot more of everything (groceries, laundry, etc). One thing we didn’t realize was just how long it would take us each night to get through dinner for 8 then homework for 5. Each. Night. Took us quite a while to find a good groove with it all.

    2) Going from a family of 4 to 8, transportation was always an issue until we were able to afford a new van that seated all 8.

    3) Though we knew there would be more laundry, we underestimated just how much laundry there was. And still is. So much laundry! We were VERY BLESSED with one older lady from our church who wanted to help us out, so she willingly washed our jeans and towels every Monday while we were at work. I dropped them off on my way to work (she didn’t drive) and picked them up on the way home. She did that for 4 years and it was a HUGE help to us!

    4) Along the way, they’ve all taken on age-appropriate chores. They have to. There’s no way one adult (or even two) can work full-time and keep up with the house work, yard work, laundry, etc that 8 people create. It was always fighting a losing battle until we started spreading the responsibilities around. Now, the kids are old enough to mow the yard, clear the table and clean up after dinner, fill/empty the dishwasher, take care of our cat litter box, clean the bathrooms and yes… they do their own laundry!

    5) We also underestimated all the extra activities (church, dance, soccer, football, band, school conferences, concerts, etc) they would be involved in especially as they are getting older. This is something we still struggle with all the time with no easy answer. For example, in the Fall we had two boys in soccer on two different teams with two different schedules, plus our oldest son in football six days a week plus various booster meetings & responsibilities you’re “required” to be involved with, and the two youngest girls had dance in there as well. And don’t forget all the church activities that ministers’ families are expected to be at. You get my point. This Christmas, Tami and I sat through 5…FIVE!…school holiday concerts (don’t forget the extra rehearsals after school). Our holly jolly spirit was pushed out by having to sit on school bleachers for too long. It’s exhausting at times but we make it work somehow.

    So glad you and Brandon are sharing your love with more little ones. God bless!

  4. Chrissie price says:

    Love this krista! Can’t wait to hear more 🙂

  5. I had missed all your fb posts about this. I’m so excited for you guys! You’re going to make some children so amazingly happy!

  6. I totally agree with Bradley, even though our family is in a different foster/adopt situation. We’ve gotten 3 babies (siblings) in 3 years. I don’t think that there is any real way to prepare yourself for the changes or the chaos. A couple of recommendations.

    1) Join the adoption.com foster care forum. It’s a great place to hash out your issues, read others experiences, and ask advice.
    2) Get your schedule trimmed down to a minimum now! You will have an amazing amount of things to do with your foster kids (home visits, doctor appointments, therapy, specialists) so you need to make room for them now.
    3) Get your household routines established and working well. Maybe set up a laundry system where you wash (or the kids wash) some kids’ clothes on one day, some an another, maybe towels and bedding on another day, etc. Get a meal schedule in place and start making double meals to put some in the freezer. Get a list of people who can bring you meals when you first get a kid because you need to focus on the child only for those first few days.
    4) Get a team around you. If people need to be background checked by the state in order to babysit or to pick kids up from school, then ask them to get that done now. It’s so nice to have a list of people you can call when things fall apart.
    5) When dealing with the state, always be child-focused. Use words like “best interest of the child” and stress bio sibling relationships where you can. Don’t be afraid to ask your SW and CASA (GAL) to come at the same time if they both need to see the child. Or even to have two case workers for different cases come at the same time. It doesn’t always work out but it’s awesome when it does 🙂
    6) Do everything you can to make this a family experience. Help your bio kids to process everything that’s happening and walk them through the foster child’s case (using appropriate language). Help your bio kids to have compassion and patience for the bio kids but don’t ever compromise on the good of your bio kids in an effort to help a foster kid. If bullying or abuse is happening against your bio kids, then that foster child needs to be moved from your home. Your kids need to see that they’re still important to you. Make sure that everyone in the family knows that secrets are not ok in your house.
    7) Don’t feel bad saying NO to the state about anything! Never take a child that you don’t feel “right” about. Placement workers will always gloss over difficult behaviors or perhaps not mention them all together. Watch out for words like “no one else will take him/her.”
    8) Pray and love then love and pray some more!

    Sorry for the essay. I randomly ran across this blog from Pinterest. I don’t mean to say by this list that we have it all together. Instead, these are the things that I wish someone had told me when we started. This journey never happens like we think it’s going to be.

  7. @Melissa – Thanks, those are great pieces of advice!

  8. We are just starting the process to become Foster parents. We have one son who is almost two. I just found your blog, but I’m looking forward to reading more. I’m having such a hard time getting the room ready because I have no idea if we will have a baby or older children.

  9. @Erin – That’s awesome! I’m excited for your family that you’ve made the first steps in this process!

    It is difficult to know how to be prepared for different ages.

  10. Hey,
    I’m currently fostering an infant, have previously fostered for short periods of time for one teen, and later on a sibling set of 2, 3, and 5yr. old boys. Some things to consider, and it depends case by case, but would have been handy for us in our situations:
    1. an “anger basket.” Pieces pf paper they can shred, balloons filled with sand to squeeze, plastic jar filled with glitter and water- items for when they need a physical release due to stress, anger, anxiety, etc. (A few ideas here: http://lemonlimeadventures.com/sensory-hacks-calm-an-angry-child/#_a5y_p=3253411 ) Likewise, anything hard/sharp/heavy and loose in the room might be better someplace else (figurines, candles, etc.)
    2. If you have tall furniture, such as a dresser, consider securing it to the wall. Had one kid try pulling over a dresser on himself/us.
    3. A welcome-to-our-home book might be great. Have house rules, photos of where things are, you and family members with names in it. (Find an example here: http://www.fostercareqanda.com/blog/how-do-you-welcome-a-new-child-to-your-home )
    4. A great sheet for you to have on hand to fill in shortly after they arrive would be a clothing inventory. By the time most kids are in foster care, the possessions they do already have are incredibly special to them. Plus, if there’s more than one child, it helps to know who came with what items. ( http://orgjunkie.com/2012/02/organizing-inventorying-childrens-clothing-free-printables.html )

    I hope these help. You never really know what you are going to be dealing with until you are in the midst of it. Having a strong support team of friends and family around is vital. Be prepared for many appointments the first couple of weeks- many things like Dr. visits may be long overdue, so there will be a lot of catching up in that area, as well as possible referrals for services, etc. Those first weeks can be so difficult! If you can have one “go-to” person to help you when you first get your placement, someone to field the requests of family/friends, that may be a good idea. And if you have anyone that would be willing to come help between supper and bedtime, that might be helpful- those hours fly by like a blur!
    May God bless you as you seek to serve Him and these children! Oh, last thing, if you happen upon a good deal on a photo album or such, you might have that on hand so you can begin to build a family/home album for them from those they are away from currently. Then add in photos of their time with you.

  11. So glad i found this. I just had orientation a couple days ago and will be starting the classes in January. I know it is far out but with my husband in school we have to wait until he graduates. I am a former foster kid and am so except start this journey 🙂 You made such a beautiful room!

  12. @April – Thank you for your comment! Wishing you and your husband all the best as you start the journey! There’s plenty to do in the meantime and you can certainly volunteer your time and energy to a foster care agency or supportive agency like Together We Rise to help the cause!

  13. @ Vanessa – Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I like your ideas! We did do a Welcome To Our Home book and it has been well received!

    I am strongly considering getting someone to help with general house cleaning 1x per week!

  14. Great ideas!! How exciting! We always had a stuffed animal and sometimes a small blanket (depending on age) ready for our newest child. They loved the comfort and security of these things. We also always give each child a Jesus Storybook Bible when they come. We read from it often and write special messages in it for them when they leave. I also bought a bunch of small photo albums to have on hand. I think it is so important for kids to have pictures so that later they can hopefully piece things together and see that they were loved. And many foster kids don’t have any pictures of themselves. I also write about special occasions and events for them to remember. Especially when they are younger and have lots of firsts. Good luck!

  15. Gloria Hunt says:

    I am so happy to have come across this site. We have our final inspection and we will become licensed Foster Parents. Thank you to all your great replays. It gave me so much wonderful helpful information!!
    My prayers are with you that all goes well! Thank you for sharing!!

  16. How did this all turn out for you?? Found this post on Pinterest and would love an update!

  17. @Heather – I know, I need to do an update post! Short answer — We’ve had our first placement of two kids since early May (2015) and one of them is leaving next week! It has certainly been a roller coaster! 🙂

  18. Hi Krista, Glad I found your post. My family and I are about where you were when you wrote your post. We’re almost ready. Excited to meet our first foster child, but a little anxious too. I look forward to reading an update on how your first foster experience went. Kind regards, Gayle

  19. You will need more household items like spoons, towels, etc. It was all a bit overwhelming at first and the expense adds up fast. I may or may not have had a mini nervous breakdown and went to Walmart at midnight because we simply did not have enough clothes hangers 😉

  20. @Amanda – Haha you know I think we DID go out and get more towels and spoons!! 🙂

  21. Thank you fr sharing this. What a lovely idea! We’re getting ready for our first placement and I had some of the same thoughts as you. I’ll look for your part 2 as well! Again, thank you! *following*

  22. I am having trouble accessing the Amazon list and hoping to get ideas for our own Adoption Shower. If you could provide a full link that would be amazing; thank you!

  23. Hi Krista!

    I found your post on pinterest; my husband and are just starting the process to becomed licensed to foster and we both work fulltime. I would love to talk to you about how you juggle a full time job with fostering and any tips/suggestions!

  24. @Tabi – Absolutely! Shoot me an email, krista@playdatecrashers.com