Georgina is a social work assistant for Fosterplus, an independent fostering agency that supports vulnerable children and teenagers across the UK. Today, she shares her top tips for foster parents this summer break.
The summer holidays are fast approaching. Many childrenwill be counting down the days until school’s out, but the six-week-long break can be a challenge for foster parents who look after them.
Fostering has many benefits, but when you decide to foster, you take on a lot of responsibility, and that includes keeping your foster children entertained over the summer break. It can be a daunting task at first glance, but the weeks will breeze by with planning and some creativity.
If you’re wondering how you’ll make it through to September, we’ve put together a practical guide for keeping your family unit happy and healthy this summer holiday so you can enjoy the break too as a foster parent.
Plan Day Trips
With so many days to fill, day trips are a great way to use the time. The summer holiday is a great time to introduce your foster child to new activities. While you might think day tripsmean visiting expensive tourist attractions or theme parks,you don’t have to do this every time. Yes, you could plan a big trip to one of these places for the end of the holiday as a final treat before going back to school, but there are plenty of fun, low-cost options too. Spend the day at the beach or park with a picnic if the weather is nice, or pay a visit to a museum or art gallery; many offer free interactive exhibitions for kids during the holidays.
Plan trips in advance, thinking about transport, opening times,and refreshments to take the stress out of the trip.
Boredom is a common complaint during the summer holiday. There are some great ways to get creative at home during these lulls to combat this. Den building, hide and seek,colouring, reading, doing a jigsaw, cupcake decorating, camping or even having a tea party in the garden are great ways to keep your foster child entertained.
If you are fostering an older child, they might enjoy helping out with some age-appropriate household tasks if you do them together or even filling out a diary over the holiday so they
can look back at what they have achieved during the holiday.
Quiet time that can be perceived as ‘boredom’ should also be embraced as a time for families to chill out and relax together to avoid a summer holiday burnout. For young people, the quality time you spend with them is of greater value than spending lots of money on them.
Building Healthy Friendships
The summer holiday is a long time to go without seeing friends for many children. You could organise playdates for your foster child with their friends and parents. Getting together with another parent over a coffee while the children play also serves as a great break for you, benefitting your and your foster child’s wellbeing. You could also check out what events and activities your fostering agency or local authority have planned over the summer break. It’s a great chance for you to connect with other local foster parents within your area, while your foster child enjoys getting to know other children too.
Take a Break For Yourself
Being a foster parent takes commitment and dedication, and just like any job you work hard at, you will need a break from it from time to time. Taking time for yourself is important and means that you will return to foster caring refreshed, and ready to take on its challenges.
If you need some time to rest, respite foster care can give you the break you need. This usually occurs during the school holidays or at the weekend, and should be planned in advance so the child in your care can get to know their respite foster parent. It is beneficial for your mental health and wellbeing as well as that of your foster child as it means that they will get the best version of you after your break.
However you decide to tackle the summer holidays, Fosterplus is always on hand to provide support