Children all over the country are out of school for the foreseeable future, meaning a lot more time at home! This includes Ranch Ehrlo’s Treatment Foster Care (TFC) program, a specialized, accredited foster care program for children with complex needs who respond best in a family setting.

TFC parents Brittanie and Sam Park, who have two biological children and are fostering one through the TFC, have been using creativity and flexibility in their routine to adjust to the change.

“It took a few days just to even wrap my head around it and gear up for what I need to do,” Brittanie said. “But it’s been helping to have a routine. Not a super rigid routine by any means, but just kind of making sure we are done our morning routine by 9 a.m. and at the table ready to learn something. We still take our breaks, and in the afternoon, we do an art project or have free time.”

One of those art projects can be seen in the Park family basement. Brittanie and Sam painted one wall in their basement black, then let the children use coloured house paint to create a huge work of art.

“We just used what we have, and I had a wall to use!” Brittanie said. “The kids have always wanted to use the ‘real’ paint.”

Beyond their art projects, the Parks have been taking advantage of the added time with the children to start practicing life skills such as making their own lunches and preparing their own snacks.

“With the normal school schedule, you’re so busy that you just do it, whereas now we have time. We can just slow down and give them more responsibilities and stretch them,” Brittanie said.

There are of course challenges that come with a sudden change in routine. All the kids have had to adjust to not being able to see their teachers and friends.

“Our foster daughter struggles with being focused, so it can kind of throw a wrench into things when you are in close proximity to each other all the time. It can get a little wearing. So that’s why we do kind of have to be a little flexible with the schedule,” Brittanie explained.

For others in the same situation, Brittanie has simple advice.

“We’re all just trying to figure this out. It’s super intense, and it’s been very sudden. Just, have some grace for yourself and for each other.”