Foster Family Organization: Our Kitchen

Being ready for new fosters for me means having the essentials ready. Some things we can keep stocked are kitchen items.

Foster Family Organization  Our Kitchen

We store all our dishes in lower cabinets to make it easier for our kids to do the dishes chore. we also make sure we have plenty of plastic plates and silverware for up to 6 kids. Although, some of them have disappeared...probably eaten by the trashcan. I would LOVE to have enough for 6 kids and 3 meals but we're not there yet.

I love the the Ikea kids' plastic tableware! 1. It's awesome bright colors. 2. Microwave and dishwasher safe. 3. There are 6 different colors! Why do the colors matter? I may or may not color code my children...and I have 4-6 kids at any given time.Foster Family Organization dishesFoster Family Organization silverware

I also found cheap water bottles in the Target dollar spot {they didn't have them this year but I found the same ones at the Dollar General for ~$.50 more}. My kids get milk for breakfast and watered down juice for lunch and dinner so water bottles are a must for any other time during the day. We have like 6 extras right now because water bottles are one of the things we send with our fosters when they get to leave.

extra water bottles

I only let my kids have one cup a day. If they can't find it then they don't get a drink until they find it OR they get their water bottle. The next thing we started when we had 6 kids, most of whom were bigger, was "cup spots". My kids knew they were supposed to put their cups on the counter next to the fridge but if they weren't using "their color" that day, they could't remember which one was theirs. Soooo, I put scrapbook sticker letters on the counter. You can't see them from far away but they're easy for the kids to see up close.

Foster Family Organization daily cup storage

Foster Family Organization letters on the counter for daily cups

I'm hoping to find more and more things that can help us function with more ease and be ready for what foster care may bring us.

 

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Foster Family Organization: Keeping Our Home Ready and Running

I'm a planner for when you couldn't tell. So when we started fostering it was very difficult to keep myself calm when you just never knew how to prepare for the children coming into your home. There are a few things that I've learned that helped us me cope by keep some order and being ready for any age that may come.

2016

It may seem odd but if you know or are a foster family, you understand that each family is unique in what they can handle and who they family will be able to care for. For us, at this time, we are only taking males under Jamin's age. That helps me tons in way of preparation but still leaves a vast area from infant to mature preschoolers. I want to share some things we've learned that can still be pre-planed to keep your sanity in such a transitional life-style. 

Foster Family Organization sanity-saving things to preplan in such a transitional life-style {a peek inside a foster family's home}

Some of the things I've already shared about so you can click the images below to read more about those.

The Great-Wall Transformation

Having a simple way to keep shoes, hats, bags, and coats makes life less cluttered. This mudroom system right in our living room is so easy my 2-year-old knows exactly who's what goes where.


Living OUTSIDE You Home with toys #missionalliving

Having a fun "parking lot" set up for my kids riding toys allows for fast and easy clean up after outside playing.

DIY Dry Erase Monthly Menu

Having our dry erase menu and our "boarding" month planned out takes one more thing off my plate.

master bed boy room girls' room guest room

Having bedrooms set up with some wiggle room allows us to not have to over think when a new call for a placement comes in, no matter how late at night it is. Our room is ready to receive an infant. The guest room is ready to receive an infant through a child. Jamin and Ellie share a room currently but we have a bed ready for her if a child needs to share with Jamin and a trundle ready if it needs to be moved into the guest room.

guest closet diapers and bedding guest closet hanging bar guest closet clothing storage

Our guest closet is socked but at the same time trying to make it still feel like a child's own closet rather than a guest closet. We have diapers of almost every size, blankets, baby toys and gear, air mattress and bedding {for guest not fosters}, and a few pieces of clothing for every size from 0-3 months to size 6.




lazy susan centerpiece tray
medicine cupsmedicine log

My biological kids are all on daily allergy medicine and foster kids often come in with their own set of medications. The only kicker is you can't leave medications out to help you remember to give them because they would then be accessible for littles. Depending on the age of the child, I leave the vitamins out on the custom lazy Susan but otherwise everything goes in the locked cabinet and I leave medication cups out to help me remember. Fosters have to have all medicines recorded so we place a clipboard with the medicine log out in the open with a pen hanging on it so we can quickly record everything.

counter cleanup

Babies come with all kinds of things like bottle, formula, burp clothes, and diaper that need to be readily available. Therefore leaving your house in survival mode. That doesn't mean it has to be unattractive. I decided to wrap a formula can in cute scrapbook paper so leaving it on the counter next to the drying bottles wouldn't be a total eyesoar.

I hope this glimpse into our home was fun, helpful, or just interesting. I know I like snooping in other's homes with great detail and thinking through things with them about why they do certain things. Any questions?

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Spring Break Plans 2016

This week is spring break for a lot of families. Even though we homeschool, we try to do most holidays and breaks that the local school does since that's who we want to minister to ans well as do-life with.

as Jules is Spring Breaking

We'd fallen a bit behind compared to where I wanted to be in our school work so last week I bribed my big girls and trudged through a lot of work to get caught up, allowing us to take this week off from school paper work. Now we can focus on what I'd rather be doing: playing with friends OUTSIDE, enjoying our last days with our #spidie before he possibly heads to provisional care, spring cleaning purging, recovering after a traumatic baby injury, and doing a special unit about EASTER! That's just the stuff we plan to do at home, not including the valley stuff like working on interior construction, cleaning, partying at the building with friends, cleaning out storage units, preping for our Easter service, and normal weekly responsibilities.

El's ER visit

maybe someday I'll be able to talk about this...but not now

If I write all this down, maybe several things will happen, I'll have a better picture of what I want to accomplish and maybe I'll actually do the things on the list! #accountability

I was planning to publish a post last week about minimizing toys in your home BUT then I realized that toys had taken over again. They were everywhere. Requiring way too much of our time during our day to clean up. Having fosters who have been overly *blessed* with stuff as well as 3 birthdays and Christmas in resent months, I had not been diligent about keeping them out of the house.

Playroom Purge

new playroom shelves last year vs this year

The purge plan includes sorting items into #spidies toys to go with him, toys to be donated to the valley, toys to sell at Duck Duck Goose, and then a few toys to keep. The toys that are being kept will be open-ended toys that require imagination, are manipulative for school, and or are educational all by themselves.  

community easter egg hunt

Our Easter plans include the resurrection garden we made Friday night, helping prep for and attending the community Easter egg hunt, the holy week calendar that I'm already behind on, sinning rocks that we usually don't do until good Friday, and teachable Easter baskets that I'm doing similar this year but rather than 4-5 baskets, I'm doing one large "family basket". My hubs and I already had a date night and purchased all the things for it but they're currently in the trunk of our car in the baby pool because...where do you hide that? hehe

We also already have the stuff we plan to use to make our spring baskets for our neighbors. Now we just have to figure out how to get those items out to make the baskets for them without my kids seeing the other stuff. 

I like planning to just stay home. Its nice to be able to plan flexible trips with my family while others are in school. PLUS, lots of our neighbor friends don't have big plans either so we can play lots more with them. What are your plans for spring break?! 

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Fit Chips {nothing to do with fitness}

Do you have lots of littles? Or even just a single little who knows how to throw a fit about Every. Tiny. Minimal. Pointless. Non-life-threatening. Thing? Yeah, me too!
Fit Chip [has nothing to do with fitness] Strategy to minimize Fit-Throwing, tantrums, melt-downs, whatever you want to call them within families with lots of littles and Lots Of Fits

Currently, we have 6 littles under the age of 7 years old. Besides the tattling, fit-throwing is the most common offense in our home. While we are still using our "Rocking Behavior" chart to handle most of those, I decided today that FITS were gonna have to be treated like a sacred thing. Before you tell me that fits can't be limited, I once grounded my daughter from her imaginary friends during nap time. Absurdity in parenthood is my forte.

Do you ever catch yourself ignoring the screaming your child is doing because they've 'called wolf' too many times and it doesn't mean anything anymore? I often "change my name" for the same reason. In my opinion, fits should be reserved for worth-while circumstances. Like death.

You throw a Fit, you pay a Chip.

How to create and follow through with this system:

  • I created cups to hold each child's chips as well as a Fit Chip Collection tub. For about 5 minutes, I was going to use empty baby food jars but then..glass. So we ended up using an old frosting tub and 6 laundry detergent cups. Cut up index cards and packing tape took care of the labeling and I cut a giant hole in the lid for easy deposits.
  • Next came the budgeting and consequence/reward system: I used plastic gold treasure coins we already had. Every one of my homeschool kids got 3 chips and those who attend public school got 2 because they were here way less of the day.
  • For any reason, if a child screams, cries, hollers- as soon as it happens, they go pay me a chip, then we deal with the event {exception is actual blood is involved or assistance is needed for injury}. Our first day actually solved this problem pretty quickly. As soon as they thought about screaming because they didn't get the color plate they wanted they would laugh because they didn't want to give me a chip.
  • If they run out of chips, simply say, "NO! You can't afford to throw another fit. You're out of chips." If they continue, create consequences and follow through. For us, they will drop their clip on the "Rocking Behavior Chart".
  • If they have chips left at the end of the day they get to move their clip up for every chip they have meaning it pulls them out of consequences or pushes them into fun rewards.

Example 1: My children were playing in the backyard when Mags (7) came in screaming. Assuming she was hurt, but not badly because she was walking, I said, "Go pay me a chip." When she responded, "But I'm really hurt." I said, "That's what they're for! I'm sorry you wasted them. I hope you don't get hurt again." She went and paid me a chip and then we discussed how she got kicked in the head on the slide but was really trying to get someone in trouble for the accident.

Example 2: J the man (4) lost all his chips {because he's exhausted and threw fits about Everything} so he ended up falling off the behavior chart, lost his iPad time, movie, AND earned a slightly early bedtime. Although devastated, he's healthier for each of those consequences in my opinion. LOL

Example 3: Iz (5) has a chip remaining which earned her 5 extra minutes of iPad time tomorrow.

Example 4: El {almost 2} has no clue what's going on yet but when she threw a fit because I wouldn't give her the drink she screamed for, I told her "Nope. Pay me a chip. {snicker} Pulled a chip from her cup and said, "That just cost you a chip." She stopped and stared at me confused.

Example 5: M and P (4 and 6) thew fits about having to clean up toys and all the other children shook their heads and said, "Sorry. You have to go pay mamma a chip."

I don't know how long it will last but its fun and kinda working for now. What kinda of shenanigans have you pulled on your kids that get results?!

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Practical Ways to Care for Orphans

Do you wanna love the orphans around you? Ever wonder how you can help even if you're not at the place to open your for foster care? Do you know a foster family? Wanna know how you can help them?

Helping Kids in Foster Care Doesn't Have to Be Hard - practical tips for non-foster parents in aiding those in the system

We have only been "open" as a foster home for 3 and 1/2 weeks. We have already had 5 different children placed with us in that time. I'm slowly learning things to help this new adventure flow more easily. I'm also learning that, in a lot of ways, there's no way to prepare for most things. No one can give you an exact scenario of what to get ready for or what the best way is to love a child who it hurting. I wanted to share a few things that we have been blessed by either by accident or by amazing friends we are surrounded by.

When a child comes into care, they often have nothing with them. The rush to get them to safety and or within healthy amounts of supervision is more important than grabbing their essentials much less their wardrobe or favorite toy. If they do happen to grab something it comes often comes in a trashbag OR a DHS worker hurries to buy them items and those come in bags from the store. These kids might be terrified, sad, angry, but they will all most likely be a bit confused.

There are some practical items that can help children in care:

BACKPACKS/Duffle Bags

Providing backpacks or duffle bags to care belongings in can help these children feel more stable and dignified from the start.

Toothbrushes/Paste

Offering toothbrushes that can be given to each child can make a child feel as though they were prepared-for and special as well as provide hygiene.

Stuffed Animals/Sleeping Buddies

A stuffed animal or small stuffed character to be used as a comfort item or sleeping buddy can make transition a little less scary.

Personal Water Bottles

A personal water bottle for each child can give each child belonging well beyond the practicality of nourishment.

If you think these simple items are something you could help provide for kids? Locate you local DCFS {Department of Children and Family Services office}, the local CALL {Children of AR Loved for a Lifetime}, or foster families you know personal and I'm sure they would love your support! Thanks for your interest in aiding children who are orphaned, even if for just a while. Thanks for learning more and can't wait to hear if you have stories of being someone's FFSS {Friends and Family Support System}. It really does take a village!

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