Saturday, June 22, 2013

Good Question: Making time for everything

Single Mamma's and Papa's, here's your chance to chime in...  we've gotten a good question.  If you are flying solo, answer how YOU do it in the comments section, or if you're a contributing blogger, log in and share your answer.

Here you go...


How do you manage work and foster kids as a single parent, what about caseworker visits, doctors appointments, etc?


I am blessed in that up until this point, I have only needed to work part time.  I am a professional photographer, which has been a good fit as the editing is all done at home (which takes the most time after a session).  It helps to be home a lot of the time, especially when kids initially come, as there are so many various appointments to get the up to date and get all of the help they need as soon as possible.  One tip that has worked well for me to to try and "stack" appointments as much as possible, having the Dr and Dentist appointments on the same day, asking the child's social worker and GAL/CASA to come at the same time if possible.

Bessy
When I first started fostering I had the typical 9-5 job but it was pretty flexible and I was able to take time off to deal with phone calls from the daycare and school as well as appointments and visits.  Even with the flexibility of my job I was finding it to be too much with my first placement.  There were a lot of behavior issues at school and home that I felt required me to be home more and I felt like I was missing out on a lot by working full time.  I took a leap of faith and quit my job to become "self-employed"!  It has been three years and has worked out great for me so far.  I now only work a few hours a week while the kids nap or after they are asleep.  I think having a flexible job or other people that can step in when you need it are key to fostering as a single person.  Unfortunately our kids can have lots and lots of appointments, visits, meetings, and "emergencies" that require your attention.  If your job is not flexible you will need someone who can go out at the drop of a hat and pick up a child from school or take them to an appointment.

aka. Mimi
Simple answer...  FMLA!!!  Placement of a foster child is a qualifying event for FMLA, and I use every bit of it.  I don't do the traditional "maternity leave" though.  I use it intermittently for foster care-related appointments, medical appointments and illnesses for my child, court dates, etc.  As long as you don't go over 90 days in a 12 month period, you're covered.  I am also extremely blessed to have a very understanding and supportive boss and co-workers.  After four years of fostering, they're "old pros" as well.  :-)

As far as the necessary time off work, the first two weeks or so after getting a new placement are pretty busy with all of the initial required appointments, but after that, I am very firm on when caseworkers, CASAs, etc. may come to the house during the work week.  I tend to take the third Wednesday of the month off every month and tell everyone three weeks in advance that if they want to come to the house during the workday, they need to come that day.  For the most part, they usually show up.  My children's CASAs have always been flexible and can come on weekends or evenings.

When it comes to weekly visitations for my children and their families, I tell their caseworkers up front that they will need to provide transportation most of the time.  On "slow" months, I will occasionally take off work part of the day to transport myself because I like to develop relationships with my children's parents if at all possible.

I think the main thing to remember is that you can say "No, I am not taking off work at 1:00pm to meet you at my house.  I will leave an hour early at 4:00pm, and be your last appointment of the day or you can come any time on the third Wednesday of the month like everyone else."  In the beginning I was very hesitant to say "no," but over the years I have learned that it's okay.  They might not be happy about it, but they'd be less happy if you lost your job and they had to find a new home for your children.  ;-)

3 comments:

  1. I'm glad you brought this topic up because I've been struggling to figure out my time and schedule. I've been a foster mom (single, never married) for about a year now. I've had two placements, a two and a half year old, and a newborn. The two and a half year old left to live with her grandparents on her third birthday. The newborn I got at 5 days old is now six months old. She's had a lot of health issues and is on a feeding tube but I adore her and I've been very blessed with both my girls. My first child's grandparents let me stay involved in her life with frequent visits and photo updates. I have always wanted to be a mom and waited too long for a husband that never came so decided to help kids in the meantime. I feel like God uniquely created and prepared me for such a time as this.

    I taught in general education and then special education in Los Angeles for over twenty years then left my classroom to get my PhD in special education. I thought becoming a professor might provide more flexibility with my schedule however it didn't work out that way because the universities in the state where I'm licensed are not hiring SPED professors. So I took a job with the state department of education and work there full time. I'm finding it very challenging to meet all of my priorities. I have to work but I long to spend my time with my little one instead of feeling like her day care is raising her! When I finally get to her, I barely have enough time to play and read and cuddle before her bedtime. I also am finding it challenging to continue other part of my lifestyle that were also very important to me. For example, over the past couple of years I have been working to lose weight and get healthy/in shape. I lost 40 pounds but since the little ones, I've gained some back because I just haven't figured out the time to get back to the gym and cooking healthy meals and so on. I feel a little like I'm finding my true self as a parent finally but also losing a little of myself too. Does that make any sense? What strategies do you all use for balancing your time? Is there anyone in this community who is working outside of the home full time?

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    1. Unfortunately I think this is the struggle with all working moms! I know for me about 6 months into my placement I had to choose to leave my full time job in order to make it work for me. I plan on going back to work when/if I have all school age kiddos. It was definitely a financial hit at first but we adjusted and have made it work. It sounds like you have a lot of experience so I would keep looking for something more flexible, hopefully something will come along. In the mean time, I have also found that I am a much better mom when I can take some time for me, even if that means another hour or two a week away from my babies :)

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  2. What great responses! I never even thought of FMLA or taking a day off to cram it all in. This summer of appointments has wiped me out and my paid time off bank is dangerously low. I've creatively worked late at night after the kids are in bed and am very blessed to have an accommodating, understanding job.
    I also enlist the help of my family for when I need to stay late at work, which I will do when we are out way too much for appointments.
    I've been pretty adamant to our caseworkers that I'm leaving work early enough for counseling, dr appointments for the kids- they will need to accommodate my schedule. They've worked well with this understanding.

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