The arrival of a foster child is an exciting time for any household, and key to creating a smooth transition period is preparation. One of the most important steps in the preparation process is setting up your future foster child’s bedroom; somewhere they can feel comfortable and safe.
Any bedroom for a foster child should be welcoming and age appropriate; a principal which applies to both the younger and the older child, but none more so than a teenager. After all, having young children’s toys in a room for a teenager is hardly likely to create a great first impression.
Consider these tips when setting up a bedroom for an older foster child, and eliminate some unnecessary stress.
Let them choose
When choosing items to place in the older child’s room careful consideration needs to be made to ensure the room does not have a too grown up or kiddie-like feel. The best way to achieve this is to allow the child to choose items for the room themselves. This gives a great sense of independence but also allows them to create their own sense of identity. Whilst some items can be chosen in advance, the finishing touches, those that really make the room, can be chosen by the individual. This room needs to be their safe haven and have their own personality stamped onto it.
Don’t over personalise at first
Trying not to over personalise or stereotype a room is another way to make it more welcoming. Sticking to warm welcoming neutral colours such as green and avoiding the stereotypical blue for a boy and pink for a girl, gives greater scope for individual touches. For example, rather than buying bedding, curtains etc. for a particular band or character, buy neutral colours at first and then find out what the child is interested in. It can also be a great bonding session to learn more about each other.
Create a welcoming feel
The room needs to be kept simple, but at the same time welcoming. By having too many items or toys, the whole process can become over whelming. An easy way to make a room welcoming is to have pillows, cushions and bean bags. These items are relatively inexpensive and can help finish a room. Not only this, they can become a good thing to let out some steam or frustration when times feel hard. Bean bags, cushions and pillows are suitable for any age and can be updated simply by changing the cover.
Placing a blank canvas in the room or chalk board paint can provide a creative outlet. The child can be imaginative by drawing their own pictures, can write down their feelings and emotions or even just have a space to release random thoughts. A chalk board or white board are good choices as they can simply be erased and updated.
If you are comfortable with having food in a bedroom, have a welcome snack or goodies set out on a dresser or by the side of the bed. It might take a while for confidence to grow to ask for something to eat on that first day, so this acts as a good ice breaker and a way to say “welcome”.
Finally, whatever you do decide to put in the room, remember accidents happen and things could get broken. Whilst you might not want to fill the room with family heirlooms you also don't want to make it feel like it is full of cheap and impersonal items. Second hand items and budget items of furniture are a great way to save money but it is worth checking that there are no broken or damaged pieces.
The best way to set up a room is to think how you would feel walking into this room for the first time, and putting yourself in your foster child’s shoes. If you are still in need of inspiration, Pinterest is a great way to provide inspiration for décor.