In this part of our serialised blog about Katrina and Sandy’s fostering journey, Katrina shares how the Covid-19 lockdown transformed her home into both a classroom and a nursery. This period required an overhaul in their usual home dynamics and demanded a reconfiguration of their living spaces. Despite these challenges, Katrina was determined to create a positive environment for her foster children.
Adapting to Lockdown: Nurturing as a Classroom and Nursery
Katrina remarked, “And in lockdown, the house became a classroom. You know, we had the ABC everywhere and all the counting numbers in the living room. It became nursery school.” She continued, acknowledging that some may question this, but in her eyes, “it doesn’t matter. You know, as long as the kids are happy. And that’s my job. You know what I mean? It’s to make these kids happy.”
Highlighting the importance of providing structure, yet also freedom within set boundaries, Katrina shared lessons she learned from her past fostering experiences, notably with Chantelle. She said, “We’re not strict parents. So, like, children are allowed to go to the cupboards and take a snack and things like that, but we’ll talk to them about when’s that time, you know, and they can go and take it at that time.”
This approach was partly shaped by Chantelle’s behaviour of hoarding food. Katrina reflected on this, sharing that “Chantelle would store food and she would lock herself in a room, but she would be set up in that room for six months if she had to be.” Katrina learned to offer unrestricted access to food, ensuring the children she fosters never feel the need to store food out of fear of going hungry.
Nutrition Strategies: From Sweets to Healthy Choices
Katrina continued with some of the challenges and her strategies for encouraging foster children to eat healthily. She begins with an anecdote of a little boy she once fostered. He arrived with serious dental problems due to a diet heavy in sweets, and soft drinks.
Katrina recalled, “He just had obviously just eaten a lot of unhealthy snacks like sweets, biscuits, soft drinks, you know, because all his teeth had rotted away.” To combat this, Katrina and her partner slowly reduced the strength of the sugary juice the child was accustomed to. “At the beginning he had his juice very strong… and day by day we weaned him off a bit,” she explained. They took this opportunity to teach him about dental health and the harmful effects of sugar.
The transition to healthier foods was gradual. Initially, the boy was hesitant to try new foods. Katrina’s strategy involved taking him shopping and allowing him to select foods, albeit unhealthy ones, he was comfortable with. Over time, she began introducing healthier alternatives. “The next day I gave him a healthier chicken burger and he didn’t know the difference,” she shared.
This little boy, despite being only four years old, learned about nutrition. “He was just four years old but he was very clever. We found trying to teach him about nutrition easy,” Katrina said. She noted that part of this education included teaching him how to make healthier choices for when he might return to home, “he would happily accept milk or water rather than the drinks that hurt his teeth so much.”
Katrina summed up their approach, saying, “We’re always preparing them to go home, even it turns out they are adopted. You’ve always got to prepare for going home as well and try and change some things for them so they can make some healthier choices for themselves.”
Stay tuned for the next inspiring story of Katrina’s fostering journey with AFA Fostering, coming on Friday!
Did this story resonate with you? Imagine the fulfilling journey you could embark on by transforming the life of a child or young person. If you live in East Anglia or the East Midlands, and can offer a spare bedroom for fostering in a caring, secure home, you already have some of the groundwork for becoming a foster parent.
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