Foster carer self care tips

Foster parents do a wonderful job, but they tend to put themselves last. It’s why they become foster carers in the first place. Their need to look after the children in their care leaves them with very little time for self-care. In the short term, this isn’t a problem, but if not addressed in the long term, it can lead to burnout.

All foster parents need to look after themselves. An exhausted foster parent will struggle to deal with stress, which has an impact on the entire family, kids included. The fact is that while foster care is incredibly rewarding, it can also be very draining on many levels.

Why It’s Hard to Make Time for Self-Care

Most foster carers are very selfless individuals, which is why they work with agencies like Being a foster parent means juggling a lot of responsibilities. You may have more than one child or teenager in your care at any one time. You might also be on call to take in emergency placements. Some foster parents also continue working full-time around their caring responsibilities. In addition, you might have kids of your own to care for too.

With such a busy life, it’s not surprising that many foster parents don’t have time to exercise, eat well, meet up with family and friends, or even watch the TV in peace. However, this is not healthy for anyone, least of all you.

Share the Workload

When fostering as a couple, the two of you can share the workload, so each of you has some quiet time. Agree to give each other a few hours away from the family, as often as you can. While one parent takes on all the responsibilities for the kids, the other can do something nice, like enjoy a walk, a movie, a book, or a bath in peace. Once you have a good routine, it may even be possible for one parent to have a weekend away with friends.

Fostering as a Lone Parent

Plenty of single people become foster parents because it is so rewarding to help kids become happy and responsible adults. The downside is that you have less support at home, which makes it harder to find time for self-care.

If this is your situation, make sure you have family and friends there to help you when needed. Call on them if you find things are getting on top of you. A couple of hours away from your foster kids will help you maintain some equilibrium when life is stressful. It isn’t a sign of weakness to admit you need help occasionally. The people that love you will want to be there for you; all you have to do is reach out to them.

Finally, be realistic about your lifestyle when you agree to be a foster parent. If you plan to carry on working full- or part-time, consider the ages of the kids you agree to care for. Older children are more independent and don’t need as much supervision. Factor this in when choosing an age range.