Picure by D's foster brother, aged 7
Today began like every other day; early morning calls from the little one, from his cot. We headed downstairs and it was a race to get his breakfast ready quick enough. He loves porridge but hates waiting for it to cool down! Once it had cooled, he eagerly spooned it into his mouth whilst I sat down with a hot coffee and caught up on my messages.
Today I had planned to meet my foster buddy. Once we had been approved as Foster Carers, I was allocated a foster buddy to support us. I had been matched with a very experienced Foster Carer, who began fostering with young birth children (like us) and now fostered children of a similar age to D.
She had been a great support. She had so many little tips to help make things easier at the start, she had a listening ear and gave advice when I felt worried. She was always on the end of the phone, helping me to find solutions when I had things to juggle. She was amazing and the type of Foster Carer I wanted to model myself on.
Today we had planned to go to the soft play with our little ones. She had messaged me to remind me to bring my Foster Carers ID badge, as the soft play centre gave Foster Carers a 50% discount. This was a great little tip; it is always worth carrying your badge as many places will offer a carers discount.
After dropping the big kids to school, we headed to the soft play to meet my buddy. She greeted us warmly. As we passed the café, I grabbed us some coffees with lids on whilst she chatted to and distracted the little ones. Caffeine is always needed trying to keep up with D and climbing up and down the soft play!
We headed into the soft play, which is such a great place for the little ones to run around in safety. As we unclipped the little ones from their pushchairs, they were off! D loved to explore and climb and slide and run! We climbed up to the top, slid down to the bottom, swam around the ball pit and ran around the mats. He loved it! It was lovely to see D was looking for me and holding his hand out when he needed help to climb or needed catching. This was a big step on from the first time I took him to soft play, when he wanted to climb everything without help and kept falling. He had become calmer, yet safer, and still managing to have as much fun. After all the running around, he was looking hot and I was flagging, so we all sat down together for a drink and a snack.
Whilst the little ones recharged themselves, my buddy and I got a chance to chat. It was good to chat to her about any little troubles I’d had, and I felt reassured that she had gone through similar things and had helpful suggestions. Sometimes it can feel like you’re alone in a situation but talking to other carers really makes me realise I’m not alone. Many carers have gone through similar situations.
As the snacks disappeared, the children started getting restless and wanted to run around again. D never liked sitting still for long! I drained the last shot of coffee from my cup and went back into the soft play to run around a bit more. D soon started to get grouchy and tired, so we decided to call it a day. He hated getting back in the buggy but as we needed to cross a busy car park, I needed to keep him safe. So, I kept talking to him calmly whilst I strapped him in. I transferred a sleepy little one into his car seat, tilted it backward and he fell fast asleep. I said goodbye to my buddy with a final hug and thanked her for all her advice, promising another play date again very soon.
The buddy system has been a fantastic support for me throughout my first year as a Foster Carer. I’m lucky to have been matched with a carer, who is now not only my buddy, but someone I now consider to be a very good friend.