At Orchard Fostering, we pride ourselves on our foster carers. They are the bedrock of the work we do. But what does a day in the life of a foster carer look like? How exactly does it all work? To answer these questions, we reached out to Nicola, one of our foster carers.

Nicola, along with her husband and two daughters, have been foster carers with Orchard Fostering for the past three and a half years. Nicola kindly took the time to answer a few questions about what it’s like to be a foster parent, a day in the life of a foster parent, and her foster care routine during lockdown.

All fostering stories are different. If you’re interested in learning more about day-to-day experiences of fostering, be sure to check out our fostering stories page.

What’s a day in the life like for you as a foster carer?

On a typical weekday we’re up at seven. We get the kids up and dressed, eat breakfast, and we’re out the door at eight forty for three drop-offs. We fly home and clean the house. The first collection is at eleven thirty.

If it is an access day (a day when foster children visit with their birth parents or other relatives), we head for access at twelve thirty. We’re back for the next school pick up at two thirty and two forty. Then, we head home to make dinner, do homework with the older kids, play a board game, watch a movie, or go to the park – all between drop offs for clubs and activities. Then it’s time for baths and bed.

How do you spend your weekends as a foster carer?

We have a mobile home in Arklow, so March to October would be spent there. The rest of the time we would do days out to the zoo, museums, family farms, drives in the mountains and we like to go out for meals.

What was your foster care routine like during lockdown? Was your day-to-day impacted? 

Very relaxed! In the mornings, we had lazy breakfasts. Home school from ten. After the first few weeks we did our own thing – cooking, making play dough and slime, long walks in parks and on the beach. We had lots of fun family time. Overall, it was very relaxing.

What led you to begin your fostering journey?

My husband was reared in care so it was something we had discussed even before we married that at some point if we could we would like to give a child a home with us. A few years after we had our second child, we decided to look into it. A year after that we began our journey.

What do you think makes you a good foster parent?

I think that maintaining the bond with birth parents is really important to a child. I offer a loving family home and give love and affection as well as guidance and structure and space to allow a child to grow in confidence.

What are some difficult moments you’ve experienced as a foster parent – and how did you overcome them? 

 I found access very challenging at times. When a very young child had to be taken sobbing from my arms to visit with birth parents… I worked on helping the child form the bond and kept very positive about access and now there is a very positive relationship with the birth parents and the child and she is happy to visit them regularly.

I also struggled in the early days with keeping some personal time for me and my family. We spoke with our link worker and compromised so from then on I had two days a week that I wasn’t available for meeting or supervision and this worked really well for us.

The most difficult moment for us has been when a placement broke down and was no longer sustainable – in this instance the kids really struggled to understand why things had happened but the social care team were amazing at helping them understand and get through it.

What has your foster care experience been like with Orchard Fostering?

 It has been a very positive experience overall for our family. We find the support given by Orchard Fostering is excellent in terms of training and support groups for adults and child.

All fostering stories are different. If you’re interested in learning more about day-to-day experiences of fostering like Nicola’s, be sure to check out our fostering stories page. If you’re interested in learning more about foster care or fostering in Ireland, contact us today.