A Day In The Life

In honor of National Foster Care Month and Mother’s Day, we wanted to give you a glimpse into a day in the life of a Coyote Hill Home Parent. Mom of The Atherton Home, Mandy Wallace, shares about a typical school day with a home full of foster children:

6:30 AM or earlier: Time to get up! 8-10 children waking up, getting dressed and making sure everyone is dressed appropriately, picking up their room (some struggle,) doing their morning chore (more struggles,) eating breakfast, participating in morning devotions, cleaning up breakfast (you guessed it…struggles,) gathering up school items and loading up the 15 passenger van.

8:00 AM: All the kids are at school! (if we had a good morning)
Now it’s time to check e-mail – usually a dozen or more needing immediate responses. Calendar? Are there any doctor, dentist, psychiatrist or optometrist visits today? A court date? A team, therapist or caseworker meeting scheduled for any of the kids? How’s the home look – is anyone coming for a tour today? Are we needing items from the store or pharmacy? Let’s not forget paperwork…daily logs; reports on incidents, fire drills, tornado drills, earthquake drills; psychiatric care forms; IEP assessments; intake packets; discharge paperwork and quarterly assessments. The unexpected yet always important emergency placement can happen at any time of day or night. It’s all a part of the work that must be done as needed during any given day.

2:00 PM: IF it’s been a quiet day, we may have this hour to relax before it’s time for children to return home. 🙂

3:20 PM: Time to head to school to pick up our van load of children.

4:00 PM: Snack time; chatting with children about how their day went at school. Then it’s homework hour…which often takes more than an hour. Sometimes a volunteer arrives to help. Often there are…struggles.

4:30 or 5 PM: Begin making supper, while helping with homework and being constantly interrupted by all the wonderful things that happen when caring for 8 to 10 children. “Ms. Mandy, I hurt my finger!” “He’s yelling at me!” “Can we play the Wii?” “She won’t leave me alone!” “Can I go outside?” There is also a child or two that will need delivered/picked up from the arena and/or an after school activity or practice. CONSTANT activity.

6 to 6:30 PM: We sit down for supper. Mealtimes are the calmest moments of my day…when everyone is together in one place, doing 7 PM and after: Time to start supper clean up, evening chores, showers and bedtime routines. A continuous stream of questions and conflicts, and then the peacefulness of sleeping children, safely tucked in for another night.

Mandy concludes, “Yes – I used the word ‘struggle’ several times. Our kids all come from different backgrounds. Chores can be a completely new concept for them. Many of them wore whatever they wanted to school but now someone is telling them their choice is not appropriate, like shorts when it’s only 35 degrees outside. For some of them it’s about control. So much of their lives seem like they are not in control, so refusing to get dressed or not doing a chore is something they can control.

“The truth is no day here is really ‘normal.’ Most of the opportunities we have to really make a difference in our kids’ lives are during those times of struggle, when we show patience and help them discover other ways to handle their pain and frustrations. Those moments usually take up the biggest chunk of our time and throw our schedules out the window, but they make the biggest impact.”