December is almost here and the festivities are starting to begin. For some of our foster carers this will be their first Christmas with their young people. For some of our young people this will also be their first Christmas away from their families.
December can be a mixed bag of emotions, for both our foster carers and young people. As a carer you can put a lot of pressure on yourself to be prepared for the day, to organise activities and days out and to ensure that your young person enjoys their Christmas.
We have prepared some guidance which we think may be useful for you and your young person/s.
1. Decorate and put up the tree together.
Spending quality time together can be a great way to build a bond, and to get your young person involved in the festivities. Let your foster child choose some of the decorations and place them on the tree, wherever they want. Let them be involved and enjoy the moment.
2. Have a plan for the day
Take some time to talk to your foster child about the plans for Christmas day and what to expect now that they’re part of your family.
If you’re expecting any guests over the Christmas period, make sure you let them know who’s coming over, and if they’ve not met before perhaps show some photos. You could even share photos from last Christmas, so they know what to expect. This will help to take the element of surprise out of the day, which often causes stress and anxiety.
3. Let them talk about their previous Christmas memories, and listen to them
Find out how your foster child feels about Christmas, let them share their memories, and take the time to understand whether they have any bad memories - if they’re happy to open up, of course.
If they have their own traditions, then try to include as many as possible in your day so it’s a little more familiar. This will help make sure Christmas day is a pleasant experience for everyone.
4. Remember the child’s birth family
If contact is being made between the child in your care and their family, then it’s good to show the child that you’re not trying to replace their family, but an extension of it.
Help them save up, buy and wrap small, thoughtful gifts for their birth family, make Christmas cards for them to take with them on their contact over the Christmas period (if appropriate), and talk about them openly. This helps the child in your care feel like their family is part of your family too.
5. Do some baking and cooking activities
Baking is a great way to get your young person excited for Christmas. Find out what kind of food they like, and make a Christmas Day plan of what food to cook and what cakes to have.
6. Be mindful of their emotions
Christmas can be difficult for a child in care. While it’s great to have lots of fun arranged for the festive period, make sure you also plan some downtime and give your foster child a quiet space to escape if they become overwhelmed by it all.
7. Don’t expect everything to run smoothly
Christmas can be emotional for a looked after child – they may feel sad that they’re not with their birth family or perhaps it may bring back some bad memories.
Either way, don’t put the pressure on for perfection and expect everything to run smoothly. If it does, then that’s a bonus!
Ideas for Elf on the Shelf
Start with a welcome note from the elf, letting your young person know he's here.
Then create some chaos around him each day such as,
Tangled up in toilet paper in the bathroom
Swinging from a lampshade
Playing cards or a board game.
Writing on the mirror
Fishing in the sink
On top of a christmas decoration
Making a snow angel in flour/powered sugar.
There are lots of different ideas for elf on the shelf if you want to get involved, and if you check out our social media pages, you will also find more ideas and pictures to give you some ideas. If you want to get creative, invent your own and send in your pictures to us, we can share them on our social media and pass on your ideas to our other foster carers!
We hope you have a great December making memories together!
If you are struggling this Christmas or need any support please get in contact with us or your support worker, and we will support you through the festive period 24/7
Thank you for reading