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A day in the life of long-term foster carers Lesley and Stephen

Lesley and Stephen are long-term foster carer for a 10 year old girl who has lived with them for three years. In this article they give us an insight into a day in their life and how they balance fostering and grandparent duties.

Lesley and Stephen main image

What a 'typical' week day looks like for this North East fostering couple

Lesley a former mental health nurse and her husband, Stephen (a retired telecommunications manager), provide long-term foster care for a 10 year old girl Ella* who has been with the couple for three years. The couple also provide childcare for their young grandchildren who live close by. 

We join the couple for a day in their busy but rewarding lives with an account of their day as written by foster carer, Lesley.

 

Starting the day with a familiar routine

 Today was a day for childcare for our grandchildren. Steve left the house at 7.15 a.mand stayed with them in their home until our 10 year-old foster daughter Ella had gone to school. In the past, they came here, but we found it too difficult to maintain the calm, relaxed atmosphere our foster child needed with three small children in our home, so we had to change our routine.

I got up and dressed, then woke Ella for school at 7.30 a.m. We washed our faces and brushed our teeth together then I reminded her to make her bed and get her uniform on. When dressed, she joined me downstairs in the kitchen, and she had tied her hair up, which was lovely as she usually refuses anything 'fancy'. 

We chatted about her day ahead, listening to the radio and went over spellings and times tables while I made her breakfast, always four mini waffles and a carton of apple juice. Then we prepared her packed lunch together. Again, it's the same lunch each day with very small variations as she feels able to try new things. After breakfast, she watched TV and played on her phone which switches on each day at 8 a.m. At8.20 a.m I called her to get her shoes and coat, and she cycled to school.

On the days we don't have our grandchildren we keep to the same routine as we find a fixed routine helps to keep Ella calm and reduces her anxiety around school, which is often a struggle for her. Weekends are more flexible as she doesn't need the same level of reassurance.

A small step at school

This morning I quickly tidied the house, emptied the dishwasher and put in a load of washing. Steve had taken our grandson to school and arrived home with the girls just as I left for our foster daughter's school at 9 a.m

I had a meeting at 9.15 a.m. to complete a Personal Education Plan (PEP) for Ella. I met with her school teacher and the teacher who comes in twice weekly to give extra support from HIVE, our fostering services wellbeing team for looked after children who have things such as dyslexia or learning difficulties or have missed education in the past.

It was nice to have our foster child join us at the end of the meeting; it's only the second time she has felt confident enough to do this. I was back home at 10.30 am, spent an hour with Steve and my granddaughters, hung out the washing, then went to my weekly volunteering role at a local food project at 11.45 a.m., leaving Steve with the girls.

Sorting, school clubs and a SAT meeting

Child doing homework
I finished my volunteering and called into the shop for some cakes for the coffee morning at our foster daughter's school the following morning. I serve the coffee and often help at school as she loves finally having someone who cares for her visible at events. I got home for lunch at 2.15 p.m. I then sorted the washing and tried to encourage our two grandchildren to sit and watch TV with me for a break! At 3.15 p.m., Steve went to pick up our grandson from nursery.

Tonight Ella was at an after-school club, and I left home to meet her at 4.30 p.m., just as our grandchildren were going home. I got her back to ours, then returned to school for a meeting about SATs at 5 p.m., whilst Steve sorted her tea and helped her with her homework.

Supper, admin and the evening wind down

I got home just after 6 p.m.and helped Ella run a bath as we chatted about her day and her new friends. Steve and I ate tea together while she bathed. We try to have all three of us eat tea together as much as possible to chat, but it's challenging due to her limited diet, and it was just too busy tonight!

Family wedding
A family wedding for Lesley and Stephen

After her bath, she read to me and then disappeared to go on her iPad. I recorded today's events and responded to emails about training, and Steve cleaned the kitchen. At 8.30 pm, when all electronic devices went off (as usual), Steve sorted supper and chatted with Ella. Then, at 9 p.m., she went upstairs to draw and read in her room, which is our new routine. Sadly, since the summer break, she feels too old to be taken to bed and for bedtime stories!

Steve and I sat down at 9 p.m. to watch TV.  Ella kept coming down, popping her head in to chat and being sent back up to bed for the first half hour before settling. Since the summer break, she seems reluctant to go to sleep, but she was asleep by 9.45 pm. We headed to bed at 10:30 p.m.

A summary of the day

Some of the fostering tasks I did today were:

  • Responding to emails about fostering training.
  • Attending the Personal Education Plan meeting (PEP).
  • Making our daily recordings.
  • Attending SATs meeting at school.

Some things my foster child and I did together today were:

  • Singing along to the radio and the quiz at 8.10 a.m. which we do each day.
  • Sharing personal care tasks.
  • Completing homework.
  • Attending PEP meeting at school together.
  • Chatting about her day and her plans.

Something my foster child said to me today was:

"I really enjoyed today as I had my drum lesson and after-school club."

The best part of my day/thing that happened today was:

Our foster daughter felt confident enough to style her hair and to come into her PEP meeting at school.

Something I found tough today was:

Fitting everything in. I nearly cancelled my volunteering, but it's something for me, and I was glad I didn't. Not every day is this busy!

Some other things that are coming up this week are:

  • A catch up with our Supervising Social Worker.
  • Helping out at the school's coffee morning.
  • A family birthday party; our son is 30!

Since becoming a foster carer, the biggest way my days have changed is:

I always have something to plan or to do. I am as busy as I was at work, but find it more rewarding.

I mostly find that as a foster carer

  • There is lots of variety - every day is different.
  • I feel so proud of the child in my care as she is developing in confidence, enjoying life and planning for her future.
  • I feel I am doing something very rewarding and get pleasure from the role.

My number one tip for adjusting to life as a foster carer is:

Each day is a new day. Take things slowly and enjoy the small things; they build up to be big things.

 

 

*names have been changed for safeguarding purposes.

Enquire to be a foster carer

You can explore the benefits of fostering and types of fostering on our website to get a better feel for how fostering might work for you. To register your interest with no commitment go to our enquiry form or call 0800 917 7771. Our hub advisers are ready and waiting to answer any questions you might have, big or small.

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