Do you know what I missed most in my first month as a foster parent?
Overnight, our family had grown from four to six. We transitioned from being the parents of two elementary school students to being the parents of four children between the ages of 13 days and 8 years. We were navigating newborn feeding schedules and toddler mealtime struggles. We were dealing with one child’s severe learning delays and another child’s extreme academic advancement. We were changing diapers and researching the newest potty-training methods. Plus, we were constantly trying to keep up with The Laundry.
Yes, The Laundry deserves to be capitalized, because it was a constant presence in our home. I remember chasing our Little Girl as she ran into our bedroom one afternoon and watching her gleefully throw herself onto a massive pile of laundry. My eyes travelled from the pile on the floor to the pile on the bed, and I started crying. For a week straight I’d been moving one of the piles around our room. From the floor to the bed to the chair to another spot on the floor...around and around it went. Now, I had two piles of laundry that needed folding.
I remember thinking that my husband and I might never have the chance to cuddle again. Every night, we were collapsing into our bed and immediately falling asleep. With the addition of the pile of laundry on our bed, exhaustion wouldn’t be the only thing keeping us apart.
It didn’t take long for us to realize that we needed a date night. In fact, we needed regular date nights. In our county, babysitters had to be at least 21 years old and approved by the county. We begged our friends for help, and we were incredibly blessed to have several friends who were approved as babysitters for all four of our children. For the remainder of our time as foster parents, we happily skipped out the door once every two weeks to spend a few hours alone. Sometimes, we even came home to folded laundry.
Those friends were our saving grace. Their care and encouragement enabled us to stay healthy as we shouldered the demands of foster parenting. Their love and support made it possible for us to provide a safe, loving home for more than a dozen children. Words cannot begin to describe our gratitude.
Thankfully, the chaos of the first few weeks eventually settled into a manageable rhythm. We mastered the newborn feeding schedule, and I was able to keep the unfolded laundry limited to one pile at a time. Okay, that’s not true. But I was able to find a better storage solution than the top of our bed! My husband and I stole a few quiet moments together each night, and we learned new ways to stay close and connected.
Foster Parents, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and it’s not too late to make it count. Write your spouse a little note and fold a few towels. Or put the kids to bed early and play a game. Have Siri, Alexa, or Google play your favorite song and share a dance together. Look up a few silly jokes and make each other laugh for five minutes. If you’ve thought ahead and scheduled a babysitter, that’s great! Enjoy your date!
Friends of Foster Parents, consider becoming a saving grace. If you’ve got a couple of hours a month to care for a foster family, we would love to welcome you to Foster the Bay as a Support Friend. It can be as simple or as involved as you’d like, and you can learn more at an upcoming Interest Meeting. Click here to RSVP for a meeting near you. We hope to see you soon!