2020 was a year like no other, and one we’re glad to see fading into the distance. The COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives – it tore us away from loved ones, locked us in our homes, and created anxieties around the simple acts of a hug or a handshake.

As we face into 2021, there is hope on the horizon. Vaccines are rolling out. The days are getting longer. Spring is about to, well, spring. The world might be closing down right now – but the opening is just around the corner.

This year more than ever, new year’s resolutions are important. What better way to shake off 2020 than with a plan to make the most of 2021? In the spirit of hope, Orchard Fostering have some new year’s goals for foster parents to share. Read on to find out more about our top foster care new year’s resolutions.

Say “yes” more

No, you can’t go over to your friend’s house. No, we can’t go visit your grandmother. No, we can’t get a lockdown puppy. How many times in 2020 did you find yourself saying “no”? After a year of not being able to do everyday things, 2021 is the year to open yourself up a little more (within the boundaries of safety, of course).

Think of the times when you have subtly denied something to your foster child. You might not have said “no” outright, but you skirted around something, or pushed it off to the side. This year, make a resolution to say “yes” a little more. Go for the big walk in the park; take all the LEGO out of the attic; get the lockdown puppy.

Do the things you denied yourself and your foster child last year – and then some. If you want to learn more about saying “yes” to things, check out Shonda Rhimes’ (the creator of Grey’s Anatomy) TED talk on her year of saying yes.

Listen more

If you’re hoping to forge a deeper bond with your foster child in 2021, the first step on that road is listening more. It can be easy to slip into lecture mode as a foster parent – telling your foster child what they did, and explaining how you feel about it.

This year, try and take the time to listen to their side of the story more. Approach their situation with empathy at the forefront of your mind. Ask them questions. Don’t wait for challenging behaviour, either – work conversations into your daily routine. When they come back from school, ask about their day – and really listen to their answer. You’ll be surprised what you discover.

For more tips on bonding with your foster child, check out our articles on making your foster child feel at home and managing challenging behaviour.

Make reading part of your routine

2020 was the year of increased screen time. At Orchard Fostering, we believe 2021 should be the year of increased page turning. Put down the iPad and pick up the novel collecting dust on your bedside locker.

We’ve talked before about the importance of reading for your foster child. Reading starts in the home – if your foster child sees you with a book in hand, or the newspaper, they are more likely to become readers themselves.

Reading more is a great foster family new year’s resolution, too. You can get everyone involved. Start a book marathon in the house – give out little rewards every time someone finishes a book. Have family reading nights, where everyone sits down together and cracks open their books.

Connect with other foster parents

Connection in 2020 was difficult. It was over Zoom, or at a distance of two metres. This year, with the vaccine on the way, we will hopefully have more time to forge meaningful connections with others.

If you can, find another foster parent in your area, and make a connection. You can talk to each other about your experiences, your feelings, your ups and downs. By supporting each other, your worries and anxieties will be reduced dramatically.

While meeting up in person is not advised at this time, you can always find likeminded foster parents groups on Facebook groups or follow foster parent hashtags Twitter. Foster parents are naturally supportive – once you find your community, you’ll be welcomed into it for life.

Look after yourself

2020 was a hellish year. One of the biggest side effects of the pandemic was a general decrease in quality of life – a major factor in maintaining your mental health. As we face down a new lockdown at the beginning of 2021, it can sometimes feel like hope is lost.

If you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry – it’s an overwhelming, emotional time. You must, however, look after yourself. Too much stress and exhaustion can takes it toll on you – and on your foster family. Take a look at our tips and tricks for practicing self-care as a foster parent, and see if you can apply some of them to your life in 2021.

If you’re struggling with your mental health in 2021, you should reach out to the Samaritans on 116 123. They are available 24/7/365.

If you’re interested in fostering, why not make your new year’s resolution taking the first step on your fostering journey? Contact Orchard Fostering today, and help us build a brighter future in 2021.