Happy Christmas everyone.
Well, here we are, one week away from ‘the big day’.
To encourage involvement and routine in what can be a less structured time of year, we got Julian* and advent calendar which he is enjoying. Cared for young people can struggle at this time of year without the usual routine of school and so having a “door” to open every day has been really important.
He does not like chocolate or sweets too much, so we have bought him a Disney book advent. I explained to him how it works on the 1st of December and he pretty much got it the next day. Now, each day he opens the bedroom door and shouts ‘Good morning, darling’, makes his way downstairs and says which date it is. He enjoys looking for the correct number and behind each ‘door’ is a Disney book. He has lined them up, in order of opening, in his playroom.
When Julian came to live with us four years ago he was completely non-verbal. He can say so many words now and has been singing Jingle Bells each time it comes on to the radio. I have programmed our ‘Alexa’ to talk to him when he talks to it. He appears to enjoy the novelty of communicating with the device; It also sings along with him when he sings Jingle Bells and other songs. As you can imagine, I am pretty tearful as his voice is so amazing and it is fantastic to hear, whether he is singing or speaking. It is a sound we thought we might not ever hear.
He is such a cheeky chappy. He is teasing us all of the time by saying ‘Happy Halloween’ and then ‘Happy Birthday’. He wants us to respond saying ‘Happy Christmas’ before he then runs away laughing.
Christmas is a very difficult time for children who are looked after. It brings a lot of mixed feelings. The children may not have had positive experiences of Christmas, or they are wanting to be with their birth families at this typically joyful family time. Behaviours may change both negatively and positively throughout this time, and it is better to be prepared just in case. Calon Cymru is available to support you even over the Christmas period; there is always someone on call and prepared to help deal with any situations that may occur.
The important thing is to not expect the children or young people to demonstrate gratitude for the presents that they have had and to not ‘go overboard’ with gifts. Talk to your children in placement, ask them if they have any family traditions that they would like to include as part of the festivities.
Ask your Supervising Social worker for guidance on how to handle tricky behaviour, and above all do not set the children and young people up to fail.
If it is your first Christmas with them, they may not appreciate a massive audience whilst opening their gifts, it may be better to open gifts with extended family members at another time during the day.
Above all the message is to enjoy the time together, this applies to the whole family; don’t put pressure on yourself to get it right. A safe, secure, friendly, loving environment is what’s important and you are never alone …… you have support so use it if you need it.
Happy Christmas and an Abundant 2020……. Signing out for 2019, Daisy Doo xx
*Foster Carer & Child’s name has been changed for privacy reasons.