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Well it has been hectic my way thes last couple of weeks. The hubby and I have recently taken guardianship of a cousin who is 10. Her mother (also husband's cousin) died about 4 years ago at the age of 34 when she had a massive heart attack. She left 3 kiddos who are now 18, 14 and 10. They were being cared for BJ's grandmother (thier great grandmother) who is 82. The two oldest boys are out of control. They shoplift, do drugs and dropped out of school. In hopes of saving the last one she asked us if we would basically take the 10 year old little girl. We did agree and earlier this week i went to court and enrolled her in school. School here starts on next week (17th). My questions are. How do you tranisiton her into our house. We have yet to set her up a place to sleep. right now we decided she will share a room with London, my 2 year old. We still have to move her bed to our house and all her clothers. Also how would you help my 5 year old adjust. Right now he is like "I don't want her to stay with us .. blah blah" Also if you have a 10 year girl or boy what is your nightly evening routine during the school year? Do they have chores and what are they capable of? I know these questions sound dumb, but seeing that my oldest is only 5 Im clueless. lol
I wanted to add that she has had no real structure at the grandmother's house. The grandmother basically sat in a rocking chair all day while she would play alone. Im just worried about her going into some kind of culture shock because my home for the most part is very structured.
Wow, you're very kind to do this! Structure is a kid's best friend, so do NOT worry that you have too much!
I dont' have a 10-year-old, but I'm a teacher familiar with that age group. She is capable of a LOT (cleaning, helping to cook, keeping her room neat, etc)! I would have an afternoon/evening routine that involved coming home from school, chilling for a while, doing homework, and then helping with chores (especially if she can help cook or clean up or set the table for dinner it would involve her in family life). Then whatever you all do together after dinner, involve her in that, and then establish a lights-out time that gives her 8-9 hours of sleep. If she wants to go to her room and read or whatever til lights out, fine, or she can hang with the family.
Your kids might have a hard adjustment, and I think helping them to be honest with you and being able to share how they feel is important. I would make sure they get some alone time with you, but also make sure the 10-year-old feels included and that they do not share negative feelings in front of her. Maybe at bedtime your 5 yo could have a chance to share how he felt about how the day went and what good and bad things there are about having a new person in the house; he'll probably end up loving her!
Good luck. Lots of t's and p's for you and your family. I hope you can help this little girl!
Bless your hearts. I think the transition will take some time so be patient and keep being open with your communication.
Id definately expect her to be able to do things like dishes, setting/clearing the table(if you do that), cleaning up her room and other things like that(making bed,etc), even helping sort laundry or put it away is doable at her age. You may have to make a chart and start slow...add something new every other week or something but tell her and ask her and let her know you are here and want to make this as smooth as possible but you arent grandma so she will be expected to do things and live up to certain things as well.
If she wants a nightlight then so be it. Whatever might help her feel secure while adjusting.
As for your 5 yr old, all you can really do is explain why this is happening and what you expect from them and that nothing is changing in the way of feelings for them(like you arent gonna love her more,etc).
I don't have a 10 yo, but I do have an almost 9 yo & he does really well with responsibility charts. I do think it's important that you sit down with her & go through your expectations & ask her for her expectations as well. It'll be different for her coming into a family, but my son has a list of expectations & a list of chores. Chores he gets paid for while expectations he better do if he wants to go to a friends house later.
I think you've gotten a lot of great advice already. What a selfless thing for you and your dh to do for this little girl.
I think that having things that are "hers" at your house will help. Clothes, toiletries, toys, sheets, etc. are all things that can help her feel more like she's at home and not a guest. I would also *expect* some turbulence, some growing pains, some tough moments, etc. while she's settling in. It WILL be a big change for her. In addition to structure, she's going to be around more people than she's used to on a regular basis, she's going to have new rules to follow and she's going to have to put up with younger "siblings". I think giving her room to feel what she needs to feel and a safe way to share or process those feelings will be really helpful. If she likes to talk, be a listening ear for her. You don't even have to give advice - just listening and giving a hug if she needs one can make someone feel heard. If she's not a talker (and I have an 11 yo dsd who is NOT a feelings-talker at. all.) things like writing down feelings, drawing pictures, playing situations out with toys, etc. are helpful.
I think your own children's responses seem normal. 5 yo's like routine, and nothing throws off routine and brings big changes like adding someone new to the family. I would make sure that she has opportunities to share and/or explore her own feelings too - like a pp said, alone time with you at the end of the day would be a great idea.
Simple chores like cleaning up the table after dinnertime, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash etc. are all easily do-able by a 10 yo and only take a few minutes. I don't know how much homework she'll have, but I don't think adding something like that into her nightly routine would be too much.
Your family is so amazing to do this! I really hope it goes well for you!
I have worked with that age group in the past and a sense of ownership and responsibility is key (as others have essentially said). I also think she should have a space that is just hers, whether its in her room or somewhere else if she is sharing, but when there are bumps in the road, somewhere she can just chill out on her own could be instrumental.
Thank you so much for the encourgement! You ladies are amazing. I appreciate all the advice and I love all the suggestions. Right now we are in the process of buying a new home..hopefully before Christmas. If we could get our own house sold. Right now she is sharing a room with London because we only have 3 bedrooms, but she will be buying a 4 bedroom home so she will be getting her own room then! I will keep you all posted because Im sure I will have bumps along the way and need help!
I think that's wonderful and scary too - you've gotten great advice. I'd echo the separate space comments and that I'd expect a few bumps along the way too. Caden might be reassured if he can do a few bigger boy things and see a way that he's still the big kid in the house somehow.
And of course all of this presumes your niece is happy about the changes too. Having her own stuff will be huge.
I just had my 10 year old niece for a week, and I can tell you she was "done" having a 2 year old hanging off of her after like 2 days. She's an only child, so I would expect similar responses in your niece...especially with it being a permanent upheaval. Also, at this stage they can be really talkative. Not necessarily about feelings and everything, but about ANYTHING else. There were a couple times I was fully affronted last week by this stage called "Tween". yeah - I can say this was one of those things that let me feel like maybe 1 and done ain't so bad.
So don't underestimate the impact of this change on you and BJ either. I know a lot of it had to do with the fact that my niece isn't our kid and she's really pretty darn good. But I found DH hiding an awful lot to escape the noise. Just something to be aware of.
As always, if you ever need to reach out - don't hesitate. Make sure you have anxiety prescriptions fully refilled...LOL. And good for you for stepping up. It takes a village to raise any child, and knowing that shell be in caring and capable hands now is a wonderful thing all around. It`s probably a big sigh of relief to the grandmother too. Much love and hugs to you all.
Becky, mommy to my Monkey Pie, Maggie (June 10, 2010)