Ready for Mother’s Day this year, we chatted to Jenny about what it’s like to be a foster mum on a day where everyone is celebrating the mothers and grandmothers in their lives.

Meet Jenny

59-year-old Jenny has been fostering for more than 24 years and has fostered an applaudable 61 children. She is currently fostering three children, a 10 and 14-year old sibling and a 16 year old.

An ex-beauty consultant, Jenny initially fostered while her husband, Simeon, continued to work in the steel trade before leaving that job to provide more support to Jenny and the children in her care.

Jenny loves her role as a foster parent and usually celebrates Mother’s Day in a group made up of her own child, former and current foster children.

Making Mother’s Day inclusive and fun for all

According to Jenny, the best way to celebrate Mother’s Day as a foster family is to keep it low-key, to always follow the foster child’s lead and take things at their pace, especially when navigating mixed feelings about the day.

“The word ‘mother’ can be quite an upsetting word to some children, or it might be a very sad word so we have to be respectful. It’s okay to remove the word ‘mother’ from the day too. It’s just a fun day where we spend time together” Jenny advised.

She also explained that in her experience, group activities have been the most successful.

“A group activity allows foster children to feel part of the celebrations. If they don’t feel like they belong, it can be quite scary for them. Plus, there’s the added benefit of them being able to go and hang out with someone else when they’re fed up with me!” she joked.

She also explained how something like a buffet can be the perfect Mother’s Day outing.

“We go somewhere that serves hundreds of dishes. That way the kids can help themselves, and get exactly what they want. It’s about being ‘Everyone’s Day’ then, there’s no ‘you have to eat this, that’s the only thing available’. They get to have some power, it’s their day too, so they can feel happy.”

Encouraging foster children’s relationships with birth parents

Maintaining relationships with the family of origin is something that Jenny feels is incredibly important. She suggests arranging a visit with their family before a celebration day like Mother’s Day if their relationship allows.

She also understands that it is not her role to ‘replace’ a foster child’s mother and encourages them to buy a card or small gift for occasions like Mother’s Day.

“I’ll never enforce that they get a card for me, that’s up to them if they want to,” explained Jenny. “It’s also important not to push too hard on Mother’s Day too, it can be complicated. Yes, we’re caregivers but they still love their parents, no matter what has been said or done.”

“It’s about saying, ‘look you love your mum, that’s great, go and love your mum. It’s also about saying ‘you can like me if you like, love me if you like but that’s your mum and I’ll respect that.’”

Reaping the rewards

“The best bit for me is when I remember that we started as complete strangers. Why should they trust us or believe in us? But then you reach that lovely level of acceptance. It doesn’t even need to be put into words, it’s just the looks you get, the body language and a comfortableness that isn’t put on or worked at, it’s just natural.”

If you’re interested in fostering, then speak to one of our friendly fostering advisors today.