Happy New Year!
It’s hard to believe it’s already 2020! With another year and decade behind us already, it’s typically a time to reflect on everything that happened during this period of life. At the end of every year, it’s always grounding to look back and reminisce on every moment that stood out. It doesn’t matter whether the moment was positive, negative, happy, sad, or a mix. Every moment shapes us into the individuals that we are today.
Also, it’s a time to look to the future to see the kind of person you’ll be. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “New year, new me!” being thrown around social media and amongst your friends and family. This saying ties into New Year’s resolutions and making goals for yourself. As fun as that can be, it could also feel discouraging when you don’t meet said goals. Just keep going and don’t give up!
For some of you reading this article, you may have welcomed a new member (or maybe two or three) into your home this past year. That is a HUGE event in and of itself. Of course, one of the big things that foster/adoptive families wonder is how they’re going to celebrate the holidays with having more children in the house. Unfortunately, some of these sweet kids have been through a lot of trauma, so the holidays may have a negative impact on them, or they have nothing to relate it to. You may be wondering, “How can I make this year a great one for my child?” “What can I do to help my child reflect and process the past but also be hopeful for the future?” “What are some ways that I can celebrate New Years with my child?” One of the rewarding things about being an adoptive/foster parent is that YOU get to give positive experiences to these children while they’re in your care.
I know for my adopted siblings, they were able to look at the first new year that they spent with us as a clean slate. They had lived a life that no child should live before and during foster care. Since we were planning to adopt them before my parents went to meet them, this was the first time that they had a sense of stability. I understand that this is a hard concept to grasp, especially for those who didn’t grow up in the system. Imagine not knowing where your next meal is coming from, who you’re going to be with, where you’re going to be, and if this foster family loves you and willingly keeps you. These thoughts are constantly nagging in the back of their heads, but now it’s like a breath of fresh air.
Foster parents, it may be difficult to not use language regarding the future of your newest members. It is completely full of unknowns and can be scary for these kids. Put emphasis on the future with YOU. It may be helpful to reassure them that you will be there for them while they’re in your home, and you will make sure that they are taken care of.
THROW A PARTY
Again, there’s a chance that some of these kids have never had a party or attended one. What better way to show them how to bring in the new year by throwing your own New Year’s Eve get together? There are so many good ideas on Pinterest to throw an unforgettable bash. Grab as many gold, black, and silver decorations (or whatever theme you want) that your heart desires and have your kids help you set them up. Not only will they get some lessons in teamwork, following directions, and hosting, they’ll get to use their creative thinking while making a special bond with you. It’s not that hard to make it fun!
Invite friends and family, especially those that have kids around their age. Children that have been in foster care or adopted into another family usually struggle with abandonment and trust, which could cause them difficulties making friends. Have some activities ready for kids of all ages to do such as games, crafts, movies, etc. If your kids are older, then let them stay up until midnight and participate in the countdown. When I was younger, I loved counting down the new year because it was like a fresh start, especially if the past year wasn’t that great. Imagine how great it would feel for a child who had a rough life and was now starting to get it back on track, all because of a loving family who decided to open their heart and home to them.
WATCH THE BALL DROP
Not a huge party person? No worries! You can do something as simple as watching the ball drop on TV or going out for a similar event. I’m from Idaho, so we have a Potato Drop on New Year’s Eve (yes, it’s incredibly corny but we LOVE our potatoes!). Believe it or not, it’s always a good turnout since there’s not a whole lot to do when you live in one of the smaller towns somewhat far away from the bigger cities. If you’re not sure if there’s an event like this near you, always check Facebook or Google.
DO INTERACTIVE COUNTDOWNS
If you’re wanting to stay home, then a great idea would be to keep the kids busy with various countdowns and activities. Blow up as many balloons as you want to represent an hour on the clock. Pop the corresponding balloon to the time until you get to midnight. NOTE: if your child has PTSD or is sensitive to loud noises, it may be best to try a different idea.
Another way to do an interactive countdown is to make a New Year’s Countdown Clock. A good visual would be to have your kids draw a big flower with 12 petals, putting numbers 1-12 in each one. After the clock strikes 1:00 P.M., color the 1 petal. When the clock strikes 2:00 P.M., color the 2 petal a different color. Keep repeating the process until it’s midnight. After the new year comes, your child will have a lovely piece of artwork to remember what they did to celebrate!
Lastly, you can make a chain with construction paper and hang it where your child will be able to see it clearly. After every hour, have your child take a piece of the chain off to commemorate an hour closer to the new year.
Going back to reflecting on the year, a great way to get your kids to do that is to have a time capsule questionnaire. Your children have to write their favorite color, book, dinner, treat, friend, toy, and movie, and answer what the best thing that happened to them that year was, what they want to do this new year, and what they want to be when they grow up. If they’re too young to write, then ask the questions and write the answers for them. Put them in a jar or a can and save them to read next year (or take with them if they’re leaving your home).
Another way of reflection is to write discussion cards. It can be anything from a “favorite family memory this year,” “best movie I saw this year,” “most embarrassing moment this year,” etc. If your child is still coming out of her shell, this is a fantastic opportunity for her to open up more. If your children are excited and want to talk about themselves, then great! However, if your child is extremely against opening up, then don’t force it.
Look to the future, grab some writing utensils, sticky notes, and find a place to put a wishing wall! Write something that you wish for in the new year on a sticky note and place it on the wall. It doesn’t have to be something big or complicated. This could be a good way to have your foster/adoptive kids to be hopeful for the future and to visually see what they want to do.
Regardless of what you decide to do with the newest member(s) of your family, just make it special. No matter if you choose to do something big or small, your foster/adopted children will love it because they’re making memories with you. Quality time is the best time, period. Seeing these kids experience their firsts with you is definitely one of the best highlights of this journey.
Emily Perez is a stay-at-home mama to 2 sweet boys and wife to a handsome electrician living the small town life in Idaho. She has a BS in Elementary Education from Eastern Oregon University and loved teaching 2nd grade. When she was younger, her parents did foster care and adopted 5 kiddos from all walks of life to be her siblings. She hopes to do foster care and adoption in the future. Along with adoption, her other passions include advocating for mental health and special needs. Emily enjoys being with family and friends, snuggling her babies, playing the piano, singing, reading, and writing. Coffee is her go-to drink for fuel, and she loves anything chocolate!