How do you prepare your home (or a bedroom) for foster care? This was such a such a stressor, because in the state of Tennessee you have to choose from one of three age ranges. The options are pretty limited at 0-12, 6-18, or 0-18. We’ve said we’ll do 0-12, but how could you possibly prepare for that range with a small house and limited storage?
1. You don’t. Ian and I know that even though we’re saying 0-12 (because anytime we try to be more honest, whoever we’re working with reiterates our only options are those three ranges), we’d actually prefer closer to 0-6. And at the end of the day, while we’re not ruling anything out yet, we have the final say. So if we get a call for two preteens, we can say no. Actually, we’d have to say no.
2. Prepare for what you want. We’d have to say no, because we only have one twin bed. And we have a crib/toddler bed. All the toys we’ve purchased have been geared towards younger kids. We bought a changing pad because if we have a kid in a crib/toddler bed, we’ll probably have a kid in diapers.
3. Be as gender-neutral as possible. Most of the toys, decor, and crib sheets we have will suit either gender. We bought a handful of twin sheets (because they’re only $10 at Ross) that are a bit more gender-specific. And this gives older kids a chance to choose their bedsheets the first night to introduce a bit of control back into their lives in such an out-of-control time.
4. Don’t buy clothes before you have kids. I almost purchased the cutest baby outfit the other day, but I put it back before I hit the checkout lane. It’s so tempting, but there’s not much sense in buying wee baby clothes if we never have an infant. Thankfully, Davidson County has Resource Linkage that apparently provides new foster children with a week’s worth of clothes. Regardless, after we accept our first placement and find out their sizes, Ian and I will be going on a bit of a shopping spree. And as we purchase clothes that our kids grow out of, we’ll keep storage bins in our attic.
5. Don’t buy too much “stuff”. It feels like I’ve been shopping left and right, buying more toys or accessories at every turn. But when I take inventory of all we have, it’s not much. Well, we have loads of books, because that’s really important to us. As for toys and dishes, we have enough to get us started, but we still have room to buy more when we get the specifics of our kids.
7. If you have the space, accept all the things. We have one sweet, sweet friend who keeps offering me all the things her kids are aging out of. She’s given us a swing and a baby rocker, a diaper bag and a playmat. Maybe we won’t get an infant, but maybe we will. And if we have one, these things will really help. They’re things I’m willing to store for a while, and if we don’t end up needing them, she’s fine if we pass them along to someone who does.
6. Be flexible. Like I said, even though we prefer 0-6, we’re not ruling anything out. I’ve asked friends who have 8- to 12-year-olds what toys their kids like and we’re going to buy a few things to suit that age range (because even if we don’t get an older kids, our kids will eventually get older).
Last time I wrote about this, our house was in a state of disarray. But I’m happy to say the kids’ room is pretty complete. And I have photos to prove it!