Enjoying the summer holidays as a foster family
Happy summer holidays! The six-week summer break is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with the children in your care, to make special memories and to have some much-needed time to rest and recuperate as a family, after a busy year of school. However, as in many situations, the summer holidays can look a little different for foster families.
Even though school is closed, and the sun is (hopefully) shining, that does not mean life as a fostering family suddenly gets easier. Your looked after children will still have appointments, there will still be meetings and if they have visits with their birth family, these will continue too. Also, the sudden change in routine can sometimes create more challenges than it removes.
Many parents and carers can find some aspects of the summer holidays difficult, after all, six weeks is a long time! To help you have the most stress free and enjoyable summer holiday this year, we have put together some tips for you.
5 tips for enjoying the summer holidays as a foster family
Be organised – Without the school run routine, it can sometimes be challenging to remember what day of the week it is, let alone remember if you have an important meeting that day or not. To keep yourself organised, employ the help of a planner or diary system, where you can note down all the important visits, appointments and meetings that are taking place over the summer.
Organisation is also key for planning fun days out and trips away (if your looked after child’s circumstances allow you to take them on holiday). Sometimes just living in the moment and being spontaneous is fun, but a good plan can help to prevent stress and problems further down the line.
Let the children choose – Of course you can not relinquish all control of the summer holidays over to the children in your care but letting them make some decisions is good for their wellbeing and will make them feel like a valued and included member of their new family unit. It could be as simple as letting them decide what food you should buy for the picnic, or you could let them decide where you should all go for the day or what fun activities you should do at home.
Sometimes, children in foster care can feel completely out of control of their life, like all the adults are making decisions for them. By giving them the responsibility of just making a few decisions for the whole family, you are giving them back some control and boosting their self-confidence.
Save where you can – A holiday abroad is going to be expensive, as is a trip to a theme park or getting tickets to a weekend family festival. However, with the cost of living crisis impacting all families across the UK, to take the money stress out of the summer holidays, you should try to save where you can. Important questions to ask yourself before you head out for the day: can I walk instead of drive? Can I pack a picnic instead of buying food there? Wil it be cheaper if I buy tickets online? Is there a discount for foster families?
The summer holidays can be an expensive time for all and the stress of spending too much money can seep into everyday life and interactions with your loved ones. Saving when and where you can is a good way to reduce some of the money worries and allows you to enjoy your days out more.
Get creative – Six weeks is a lot of time to fill, and it can be difficult to find new things to do every day, especially if you are caring for children who need a lot of variety in order to stay happy and engaged. There are many places online you can turn for inspiration for fun things to do at home. Pinterest is bursting with craft ideas and activities for younger children. The Five Minute Mum website also has lots of inspiration for games and activities.
When all the usual ideas aren’t working, try thinking outside the box. Make up your own games or ask the children to get creative too. Sometimes, boredom is a good thing, it gives children the opportunity to explore their imaginations and make their own fun.
Ask for support – If you or the children in your care are not adapting well to the change in routine, turn to your support network. Call a friend for a chat, if they have children, they will likely have felt the same way too. If you need a break, ask family to help with some of the childcare. Remember, you are not going to be able to be the best foster carer you can be if you are neglecting your own needs. If you struggle with self care during the holidays, we have a blog post full of self care tips for foster carers.
If the long periods at home are proving challenging, you can call your fostering agency for guidance and support. A member of the team will be able to talk through your concerns and will help in anyway they can. Here at Focus Foster Care, we have a 24 hour phone line and one of the team is always on hand to offer support and advice.
Take the pressure off – We know as a loving and big-hearted foster carer that you want to give the children in your care the best summer ever because they may not have had a care free and fun filled summer before. We know you want to give them lots of new opportunities and make lots of special memories and that is why you are so wonderful. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself though. You can of course have lots of fun and do lots of special things together, making happy memories as a family, but don’t feel the pressure to make every day The Best Day Ever.
If you are making your looked after child feel loved, safe and happy, you are already doing an amazing job. Remember, there is no perfect family and no perfect summer holidays, some days will be better than others and it is important that you don’t beat yourself up on the more challenging days.
If you are interested in fostering with Focus Foster Care, we would love to hear from you. We are currently recruiting new foster carers in the West Midlands and surrounding areas. Please visit our webpage Who Can Foster and get in touch with our team if you meet the requirements. We hope to hear from you soon.
To find out more about fostering and how to become a foster carer with our independent fostering agency, please read the following pages on our website:
Types of foster care.
Who can foster?
How to become a foster carer with Focus Foster Care.
Fostering – frequently asked questions.
The benefits of fostering with Focus Foster Care.