As hard as foster care is, with kids coming and going, one of the strange perks of the gig is that you kind of get a do-over each time. When you have your own kids, you're always in the middle of it, so it's hard to assess and adjust mid-stream (I assume). But with foster care you can look at what you did the previous go-round and adjust. You learn each time you have a placement and can hone your approach a little more.
Of course, this doesn't mean it's easy -- each placement comes with its own issues -- but as first-time parents and first-time foster parents, it's kind of nice to be able to have a do-over the second and third and fourth times around. For example, now I know to ask when their CFTM meeting is and if they have other siblings in other people's care and also maybe ask the kid if they are allergic to watermelon before they eat their weight in it and throw up in the car on the way home. Hindsight.
All that to say, I've had some time to ponder since our last placement and figure out what worked and what didn't logistically in our house. We don't have a designated "play room" or basement to work with, which was a source of stress for me last time, worrying about them messing up stuff or bumping their heads on corners or not having enough room to play, so I took some time to assess our space and determine how we can make it work for us.
We have a large living room but it's difficult to figure out how to make the most of the space, since it's kind of just one large rectangle. half the space is kind of our living area with couches and the TV and such, but the other half was kind of wasted space, except for a bookshelf and our dog's crate around the edges.
Without boring you with details I managed to figure out a way to utilize one corner of the room as a kids area, which I am super excited about. I put down a rug, added some cube shelves with storage and some bins to put toys in, and I hope to add a beanbag chair or some kind of soft seating as well. I know it won't make kids all zen or anything, but having a place to just sprawl out and play, and a rug to go "hey go sit on the rug and read and/or play quietly for 20 minutes pls" (I learned this from my friend who is a child whisperer and does day-care during the day and enacts Quiet Reading Time with each kid on their own area of a carpet or rug and it blew my mind -- kids can like...do that?) I think will make me happy.
I also got rid of our coffee table (in theory -- anyone want one?) and got some white leather cubes instead for Christmas that are a) corner-free b) hide things and c) wipeable, which I also feel good about. They are also easy to move out of the way for more play space.
This is my attempt at filling you in on what I've been doing with my time since we haven't had kids. I also made a lot more space in our office in case we need to stash a crib or pack-n-play in there without worrying if a guitar will fall on the baby's head. It's a work in progress.
P.S. much of this inspiration can be attributed to Sherry and John Petersik of Young House Love who have a delightful book out (Lovable Livable Home) that is actually practical for people with pets and small humans and spillers that we actually got signed by them because we met them (I KNOW). They are the best at making space work for you and it helped me realize we don't need a new house, we just need to figure out how to utilize what we got. And it can still be pretty (ish).
P.P.S. It took a total of about 36 hours for one of our pets to throw up on the new rug. Who says pets don't prepare you for parenting?