Fostering is an incredibly rewarding thing to do. But, like all parents, foster carers are often busy, tired, and guilty of putting the rest of their household’s needs above their own. Self-care is incredibly important for foster parents and carers. Taking some time to look after yourself, especially when things are tough, can boost your physical and mental health, and your mood, meaning you are able to give the best of yourself to others while enjoying all the benefits of fostering. Here are some essential self-care ideas for foster parents.
Build a Support Network
Being a parent is always challenging. You need people around you who understand, and who you can talk to when you need to. A support network is so important for everyone, but as a foster carer, your friends and family might find it hard to relate to some of the challenges that you face. Get support from Orange Grove Foster Care and try to reach out to other foster carers with shared experiences.
Practice Little and Often
Large acts of self-care, like taking a trip, or going to a spa, are fantastic. These offer a chance to really unwind and leave stress behind. But we don’t always have the time or money to do these things. Day to day, you might not even have the free time needed to enjoy a trip to the shops or to get your hair or nails done.
Instead, try to practice small acts of self-care that don’t take long or cost much. Do this every single day, or more than once a day if you can. Things like enjoying an afternoon coffee, reading a few chapters of a book, practising a creative hobby, or texting a friend, can be even more important than those larger acts when it comes to relieving stress and putting yourself first.
Exercise is a fantastic boost to your physical and mental health. It can also improve your mood, help you to sleep and reduce the risk of illness. If time is an issue, try taking short walks several times a day, and practising yoga routines or stretches when you get out of bed. Finding exercises that you can enjoy with your family, like swimming or hiking, can be extremely beneficial for all of you.
Be Kind to Yourself
Perhaps the greatest act of self-care is the act of kindness. You may be kind to other people, and as a foster carer, you must be incredibly caring, but how often are you kind to yourself? How often do you punish yourself for not doing something, for saying no, or for putting yourself first? How often do you feel guilty about things that you have no control over? Be kind to yourself. If you wouldn’t say something to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.
Take Time Away from Social Media
Social media is a great tool, and a little time online can be an act of self-care. But when it’s taking time away from other things, or you can’t enjoy time with yourself, or your family, because you’ve always got one eye on your phone, it’s time to take a break. Limiting daily usage, leaving your phone upstairs in the evenings, or having one day off every week can give you time to practice self-care and enjoy yourself.
Practising self-care can help you to be a better foster parent, and to enjoy the experience. Remember, it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes.