Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Couch time

When Dinosaur stopped napping, I instituted "resting time."  He had to stay in his room an amount of time set by a timer, and as long as he was quiet, all was well.  I would try to time it the same as Rhinoceros's nap and catch a little peace and quiet.  It took some practice, but he got it.  Books on CD were especially helpful.  Rhinoceros was not so into this idea.  We tried, but it never quite had the same success and included some crying and moving gradually into the hallway.  Now Crocodile isn't napping every day either.  But we still all really need a little downtime for me to sit in one place.  Sometimes I can use a show for that, but Crocodile kind of likes to bounce around while watching something, and it's not predictable when he'll lose interest.

I am an introvert.  I love that my schedule provides me with two weekdays with the kids, but I am always drained by 1:00, no matter how the day is going.  I would love for everyone to have "room time," like my mom did as I grew up.  Everyone in their rooms for an hour after lunch, doing whatever.  But I'll tell you what I can't bring myself to do: isolate my foster children.  Cricket was especially triggered by isolation.  Shut her door without you in her room with her, and you just unlocked an hour of awful.  Crocodile does not seem to have quite the same trigger, but he certainly hates being in his room alone and says he's scared.  Rhinoceros has observed this with two kids and joined the bandwagon.  Though maybe I shouldn't be so cynical; he could have legitimate fears as well.  Conclusion: each in own rooms does not work because it sets off a bomb of emotions in each room and I can't deal with them all.

So, I'm trying "couch time" for the summer.  We are all in the living room, each sitting on a couch.  Currently we have two couches and two loveseats, as we bought a new-to-us set, tried to sell the old set, and have been too lazy to do anything about the fact that they didn't sell.  I'm setting a 3-minute timer for everyone to gather whatever they want to play with/read/do during "couch time."  Rhinoceros had a drill-and-design set.  Crocodile had a few books.  I had my laptop.  Then I start a timer for "couch time."  Today we did just 15 minutes.  Crocodile was in a rare mood and cried, but he was on the couch when the timer ended.  Rhinoceros played happily.  I (mostly) sat for fifteen minutes.   I think I can get them to 30 minutes, maybe longer.  I'm thinking of even giving "Help me, Mommy" cards.  They get two cards (maybe one?), and after two times that I help them with something, cards are gone and I am done helping.

I share this because in foster care, sometimes our mom's way or our previous way just won't work with a particular child.  You try something new, and it may not work out, but it's a step.  It also breaks me out of the frustration of my "tried and true" method not working.  Invent, try out, try again.  Because even though Crocodile was crying a bit and not really a "couch time" fan today, I know he felt secure, because I was right across the room with him, doing this together.

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