Yes…it’s been a bit quiet around here, but not IRL.
Real life got kinda busy on me and so here I am a few weeks later. I’m just back from a week of training and conferencing. I am a carer representative in my area and support and advocate for other carers when they need assistance. Each year, the carer reps have a couple of very intense days of training where we get up to date with new legislation, new policy and practice for the child protection professionals and a range of various other issues and topics. This is followed by our annual state foster care conference. A marathon of information intake, networking and eating (oh no!).
For me to head off I firstly needed to organise three different care arrangements for my kids – one each! Followed by three more different arrangements for the weekend. Hmmmm! I was so grateful and happy that each child was able to go to people they knew – families who form a part of my network of support. There’s nothing I hate more than having to send my littles ones off to complete strangers – that just doesn’t work for me and it sure doesn’t work for them.
For L who has autism, his routine was kept right on track by having my dear old mum come over and stay with him here in my home. He was then to go and stay with his bio grandparents for the weekend, but they came down with an evil flu which has been raging and ravaging wherever it lands. So he ended up coming out with me for the conference, as did little J (14m now!). Lucky they had some child care arrangements and they had some space for us. It was certainly a learning experience for the lovely Pyjama Angels who volunteered to look after the kids during the conference.
Staying in a hotel with a bub whose dearest wish is to run as fast as he can and to climb onto everything climb-able and a 5yo with autism – is not my idea of a break, but we did manage to have some fun and I did manage to attend a few conference sessions, so…we made it! We had lots of help from some of my fellow foster carers too.
On the Saturday night they held a dinner which is usually a lot of fun. Part of the night is dedicated to acknowledging some of the amazing carers who have reached significant milestones. One very special couple were there as they had just ticked over 50 years of fostering. Unbelievable! They started in 1962 and are still at it today. They were both beaming as they received a standing ovation for this incredible achievement and were very proud to point out their very first foster daughter who had travelled a long way to be there to help them celebrate.
I had no option but to bring the kids down for the dinner, knowing that we’d only be there for a little while, hoping that L would be able to manage the experience. He ran around the room a lot, but I had a few pals on kid wrangling duty so he didn’t get into too much trouble. We did manage to settle down at the table for a while where he poured some lemonade from one glass to another for about 25mins. While this was happening he was also checking that he’d get to go to bed soon. ‘BED SOON?’ – the kid has NO volume control! ‘BED SOON MUM?’ Yes, darling. Bed soon. It echoed around the room, many, many times over and over again. I got lots of bemused looks, but all very accepting and supportive.
I had volunteered to get up and speak about being a carer rep, as we are trying to recruit more carers into the role and having a captive audience was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. As soon as I had done my bit and made my way back to the table, I said to L – ‘OK, bed now’, thinking he’d be happy to head off to bed after making hundreds of requests for it. He looked at me, paused and said ‘NO’. Oh boy!!! We did head off and he managed to get to sleep, as did the baby and as did I. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang were kicking their heels up and having a good (kid-free) time.
We are back home, I’m slowly working my way through the mountain of washing and getting everyone back into their routines, catching up on missed sleep and….on my poor neglected blog.