As a follow up to Preparing Your Home for Foster Parenthood – Part 1, where I shared the home safety checklist that our agency provided before our home study, I’ve written a Part 2 with tips from experienced foster parents on how to prepare your home and ease the transition of a new child into your home.
Helpful Tips to Prepare Your Home
• Keep an empty picture frame so you can add a personal photo to the child’s room (either just of the child, one of the child with his or her birth family if possible, or the child with your family).
• Some foster parents like to take the child shopping on the first night to pick out new bedding, PJs, stuffed animal and/or favorite breakfast foods.
• There’s not always time for the above, so I recommend having several sets of sheets (for boys or girls) and a stash of new or clean second-hand stuffed animals. I love the idea of a stuffed animal that doubles as a photo frame like this Plush Plus one.
• If you have the storage space and resources, it’s great to keep a supply of clothes for each age child you’re prepared to welcome into your home. I opt for gender neutral and comfortable so it can worn as PJs or fresh clothes for the first day while I’m doing laundry and/or scrounging up hand-me-downs from our support community. For example: gray sweatpants and a turquoise t-shirt.
• Steph recommends keeping a list of which friends offered clothing for which sizes so you can remember who to contact once a new placement arrives.
• Plan on washing everything the child came with the day they arrive, preferably after the child is asleep so he or she doesn’t feel offended. Cigarette smoke, lice, etc. are not uncommon.
• Keep a supply of baby/kid-friendly foods (especially if you’re a first time parent! I wish I had known this.) For example: bananas, cheese sticks, yogurt tubes (you can freeze these), animal crackers, fruit snacks, Cheerios, baby food, apple sauce pouches, baby formula, carrot sticks, raisins.
• Have a nice supply of children’s books. There are a handful of books that are especially helpful for kids who have experienced trauma, are in foster care, that celebrate skin color differences, etc. (Check out this post on Foster Care and Adoption Books for Kids.)
• Keep at least 1 backpack and/or duffle bag on hand that you can send with your foster child if he or she leaves. Kids often arrive with their belongings in trash bags, paper grocery sacks or cardboard boxes. I always make sure they leave my house with a duffle bag, suitcase, backpack and/or plastic storage totes. (I always keep one of these Northstar Sports duffle bags in the closet of our foster kids’ room. They don’t take up much space but can hold a ton.)
• A CD player with some soothing kids music (shameless plug for my husband’s Acoustic Lullabies album! Leslie recommends I Dream of You by JJ Heller) and/or a white noise machine can be really helpful for getting kids to relax and go to sleep in a new place.
• Since we had so many different kinds of items to lock up (matches, lighters, cleaning supplies, medicines, weapons etc.) I had the idea of buying an exterior locking door handle to put on our hall closet.
• We also have this ugly metal MedLock box that lives on our kitchen counter for daily vitamins and medicines.
Check out Preparing Your Home for Fosterhood – Part 1 which lists out our home safety checklist.
Or, our related post about the bedrooms the Dropping Anchors contributors have designed for our kiddos: Preparing a Place: Room Tours.