Q. Can you commit to foster care while working outside of the home?
A. You can, but be ready to do a juggling act. Our state requires an exception form to be signed if both adults are working outside of the home, so be aware of what your state requirements are.
I thought it would be fun to give you a look into a typical day in my life so you can have an idea of what it looks like to do foster care, be a wife, raise kids, and work outside of the home. I hope you have a sweatband and roller skates on to keep up with me!!
A Day in the Life of Me (on a Monday)
You know that Bible verse from Proverbs 31–She wakes up while it is still night… That’s me. My alarm clock goes off at 5:25 a.m. I roll out of bed as quietly as possible because this time is my time and I do not want any baby waking up to ruin it. My coffee maker is always waiting with hot coffee and I pour a cup of black joe. I sit in my chair and start my day with Jesus and my coffee. I spend 45 minutes praying and reading the Bible. This is the most important time of the day for me.
Around 6:30 I move to the basement, roll out the yoga mat and do a quick 15-20 minute exercise. It sort of sucks today because I have not done this in a long time and it hurts, but feels good all at the same time.
It’s 6:50 a.m. and I make the rounds around the house to wake up the five kids. I walk into each room and throw open the curtains and tell them to get up and moving! My husband and I have fallen into a nice routine for mornings; he starts getting the breakfast going while I get myself ready. Today I get myself ready in 15 minutes: clothes on, make-up done, teeth brushed. I forget to do my hair (typical) so it’ll be a messy bun for the day. I get ready faster because I need to get a pot roast and veggies into the crock pot this morning. I get 4 little girls’ and one handsome toddler-man’s heads of hair brushed and styled. I scarf down some fresh eggs and more coffee. I peel those carrots and dump the food into the crock pot. I pack my work lunch (celery, yogurt, and a frozen edamame-rice mix because that’s all I can find). Now comes the scrambling and yelling: “Get your boots on! Get your coat on! Yes, you need a hat, it is still winter here! Do you have your volleyball gear? You have practice after school & you kids coming home: get the eggs and do the dishes after school! Yes, I’ll send a note to school. And someone, please, feed the cat!” I send off my oldest and youngest with my husband who will drop one off at middle school and the other at daycare. Then I gather up the remaining three elementary kids and make that school run. Today we’re doing pretty good and get out of the door by 8 a.m.
I roll into work at 8:19 and my first patient is scheduled at 8:20. I walk into my office and realize I’ve got a student with me today. She’s been following me for the last two months and she’s doing great, but having a student adds another level to my day. And its Monday. And we are short-staffed. I make a cup of coffee from my Keurig that sits on my desk (best birthday gift ever received!). I open up my schedule and it is full and then some. I open up my email; there is a response from the social worker on a concern I had from Friday. I forward this on to my husband to keep him in the loop. I see patients, I get back to my desk, I deal with lab results, questions, phone calls, I guide the student and teach her. I see a few more emails from the county. I read these as I go in between patients. At lunch time I sit and eat at my desk (celery and more coffee) and work on charts. I send off several emails in regards to fostering: to the county, to Early Childhood, to another foster family, to our respite family. I see a one-month-old baby with RSV who greatly concerns me. Everything else is put on hold. I dial 911 and ask for paramedics to take the infant to the nearest pediatric hospital (90 miles away!). I reassure the mom, I teach the student, I give a report to the paramedics and to the hospital.
When I get back to my desk it is now 3:00 pm. And remember when I said “I’ll send a note to school” earlier this morning? Well, I forgot, and I panic because school gets out at 3:15. I grab the phone and call over to the school (thank you, Jesus, that it is a small town and every one knows my life) and I set the record straight that one of my kids should stay after for practice. I still have more patients and more charts to complete. I still have medication refills to send and labs to look over. Five o’clock hits me between the eyes, I have to drop everything and run out the door so I can get the toddler from daycare and be back to the school to pick up the other kid by 5:15. Amazingly I do it; I roll in at 5:17! The sweaty kid hops in the bus and we are home by 5:30.
My husband works from home so the other three kids are already there. They’ve done their chores (dishes and chickens) but have not practiced for AWANA (our Wednesday night kids church group). I scoop out the crock pot contents, pour drinks, and call the troops because John has to get to a church meeting by 6:30. Dinner time can be a struggle with any of the foster kids we’ve had, then you add in the age ranges from 2 to 11 and there’s bound to be some bargaining. There is a lot of that tonight. The toddler is giving us a run for our money. Then there are a few picky eaters; they don’t like cooked carrots, just raw. So we make a deal; How old are you? You’re 5? You’re 6? Okay, then you eat five bites of carrots and you eat six bites of carrots and leave the rest, but there is no dessert. Will you eat your meat with ketchup? Okay, here’s a pile of ketchup, will you eat it now? Eventually John leaves while we’re still at it. At this point I’ve resigned to hand feeding the toddler and I have to stop the 9-year-old from eating another biscuit. Amongst all of this there are five children all talking at once about their day. I have to keep reminding them to take turns, stop talking with their mouths full, wipe their face. A few times I say, “Are you a human?” Yes. “Then please eat like a human.” After a very chaotic meal, the oldest two kids clean the kitchen, not because they are awesome but because they are working towards something they really want. While they do this my next goal is to help the other kids learn their Bible verses for AWANA this week. We do not get very far. I also am reminded several times that one of the girls need me to order her new kneepads and shorts for volleyball. This leads me to surfing Amazon and thinking about my own volleyball team and our upcoming tournament I need to get ready for. We’ll be traveling out of town for it this weekend and we have respite care lined up for our fosters but then I remember that the dog and cat and chickens need someone to look after them too! I don’t have time to make those arrangements so it will have to be dealt with tomorrow because the two Littles need to get to bed. They are starting the I’m-losing-it-because-I’m-tired meltdown.
I wrangle on jammies and brush their teeth and we sit and read a book. The other girls are in the kitchen doing watercolor paints and sneaking candy. We pray and sing some songs and I remind them to be quiet several hundred times. I have to stay in the room until they are finally asleep or the toddler will just keep getting out of bed.
Now it is 7:45 pm. I pour myself a glass of wine and sit down on the couch. Except my oldest wants to work on her blog (Sweeter Than Pineapples) so we get the laptop out. Immediately after I get her logged in, my 9-year-old tells me she needs to talk, in private. I set my untouched glass of red zinfandel down and we go in my bedroom. We sit down on the bed and she starts crying about friend woes at school. (Y’all: girl drama starts way too early!!) I talk it through with her and we pray together. As I walk out of the room I am met with the 2-year-old standing in the hallway. !!!!!!!!! Get back in bed!! I tuck the little bugger back in.
It’s 8:30 and I’m too tired to put the Big Girls to bed. I tell them they can do it themselves tonight, but my 6-year-old still needs a hug and a tucked in blanket and the 9-year-old has a headache now. So do I. My eldest has a canker sore from her “dumb” braces and I dig and dig for the Ambesol but I finally give up. Just go to bed.
It’s a little after 9:00 and I sit back down on the couch. I flip through the channels hoping for a mindless show. I find one, I sip my wine. I send an email to the school counselor as my daughter had asked. The dog barks and my husband is home, so I turn off my TV show five minutes into it. He talks about his meeting and I fill him in on a few of the foster care emails I received today and we discuss pertinent details about the foster kiddos and the direction their case is going. I fill him in on the girl drama. That girl is apparently still awake and interrupts us. She tells Dad that she didn’t want to talk to him because he would just tell her to “suck it up.” We laugh about this and send her back to bed. My husband suggests I wear that new nightie from VS he just bought me. I laugh and say that I’m going to bed. I prepare my coffee pot so I can have fresh brew in the morning when I wake up to start this whole thing over again.