Sunday, April 18, 2010

Organizing & Preparing for Foster Care

I wish there had been a manual for the past few days of my life. Even more than that, I wish there was a manual for the next few months, but there isn't. Every time I Google "getting ready for foster care", all I get back is the steps and procedures for licensing. This says nothing about the preparing of your house or your heart... So, for whatever expertise I have, I would like to pass it on.

First off, go through everything that comes into your house. Start a donate/garage sale pile. Figure out a system that works for you and buy lots and lots of bins.

In the batch of stuff I got donated there was 7 car seats, 2 infant, 2 toddler and 2 boosters. They are all 4-5 years old and in great condition. I took off all of the car-seat covers, washed them, air dried them and put all of them back on the bases. Tedious but worth it. Now I know they are clean, and I know that I can install and adjust them when the time comes.

I got two strollers, a double and a single. Took me FOREVER to figure out how to get it to "lock" so it doesn't fold up as you are walking down the street. Also, I figured out how to secure a infant car-seat on it for the really little babies. Two very good things to know.

Winter Gear. I got a tone. I washed all of the winter coats/hats/mittens/etc. And hung up the ones that I like in the garage. I am not sure if that is where they will end up or if they would fare better in a box in the garage... we shall see. Lesson here? Rolling flexibility. They are ready, but I am not sure what the best thing to do with them yet. Maybe another bin?

I washed all of the bottles, air dried them and put the back together. Bottles, what is BPA, and when did that start mattering...? As a parent, I am pretty sure questions are everywhere. We all want to do right by our kids, but we can only do what we can with the tools we have. I will research it tomorrow. Today, they are clean and ready.

I looked through every single outfit and picked out my favorites and started a donate/garage sale pile. It is okay not to put everything given to you on you kid. Especially if it is second hand. Look it through, but make it your own. You are the parent here.

I cleaned and filled the hope chest in my living room, with toys. My hope-chest is now filled with toys... is this really going to be my life? How can this one sight be so exciting and so scary at the same time??

I created a system that I hope will work for now, and will work as kids come and go. A bin for every size kid that I am open to, sorted by gender. A bin for different aged toys. A bin for bottles and one for blankets. I should take a picture of that. Even though it isn't complete (I still need about 10-12 more bins, and more stuff), it is looking pretty good if I do say so myself.

Here is the idea with the bins. Social worker calls, says, "I have a 3 month old boy and a 3 year old girl with me. We'll be at your house in 1 hour." Okay. Panic, but not really. Send out an email to a few chosen people, to get prayer and back-up if needed. Then I bust out a few bins... Probably, Clothes: Boy-Newborn & 3/6/9 months, Girl 3T; Stuff: Gender Neutral Birth-12 months, Blankets & Sheets, All Ages & Bottles & Nuks, Birth-3 years and Toys: Infant & 3-5 years. Throw the clothes in the wash, make their beds, straighten up and get some cookies in the oven. Done. It still isn't easy to get ready for new kids, but I think it is really going to help. Similarly it isn't going to be easy when kids leave, but when they do, all the toys, clothes and misc stuff, can be easily cleaned, stored and ready for the next batch.

Girls:
1. Newborn & 3/6/9 months
2. 12 months
3. 18 months
4. 2 T
5. 3T
6. 4/5T
7. Size 6 +

Gender Neutral
8. Birth-12 months
9. Blankets & Sheets, All Ages
10. Bottles & Nuks, Birth-3 years

Boys
11. Newborn & 3/6/9 months
12. 12 months
13. 18 months
14. 2 T
15. 3T
16. 4/5T
17. Size 6 +

Toys
18. Infant
19. Toddler
20. 3-5 years
21. 5 years +

That is what I have anyway. More can be added, taken away and changed as the needs do. Like, right now, I have 7 bins of girl clothes and 1 of boys. And no toy bins. But the system is in place. The labels are printed (almost) and are ready to be filled. Oh, I wanted to say, don't fill the tots ALL THE WAY FULL, a little room is nice, what if you get some more clothes? Or shoes for that age that you LOVE? And when kids leave, send some clothes home with them, sort though the ones you have left, and only fill ONE bin for each size. Otherwise, you'll have this great bin system that turns into bins + garbage bags + totes full of random stuff. Save it, or get rid of it.

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It'll be a pleasure hearing your thoughts. Alisa