As a foster carer, you know how rewarding caring for foster children can be. However, it can also be quite demanding and emotionally taxing at times. When you are feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities of fostering, it is important to have healthy coping strategies in place to avoid carer burnout. This article provides tips on how to cope when the stresses of foster caring start to feel like too much.
Look After Your Own Needs
Make sure you are taking good care of yourself – eating properly, exercising, and getting enough sleep. It is easy to neglect your own needs when focused on caring for your foster children, but preserving your mental and physical health should be a priority. Do fun and relaxing activities that recharge you, even if it’s just taking a bath or watching a comedy show on the telly for an hour.
Establish a Self-Care Routine
Carve out time every day to practice self-care – this might include journaling, meditating, stretching, sipping tea while reading a good book, or any other activity that promotes calm and renewal. When you focus on nurturing yourself daily, coping with stressors becomes easier. Make self-care non-negotiable by setting reminders if needed so it becomes habit. Your emotional tank needs to be regularly refilled.
Ask About Respite Foster Care
If you reach a point where taking a substantial break from fostering seems necessary for your well-being, bring up the option of respite foster care, or short break fostering with your provider foster agency. Some foster agencies have dedicated respite carers who can care for your foster child or children for a set period of time while you get much needed rest and renewal. Most foster agencies limit the number of days per year you can utilise respite care, so confirm what the policies are.
Pursue Ongoing Foster Training
Continually participating in foster care trainings, workshops, online courses and support groups enables you to keep improving your fostering abilities while also connecting with others who understand firsthand the joys and trials of foster caring. Learning positive parenting methods tailored for children from hard places can equip you with more coping tools as challenging behaviours arise. And hearing from seasoned foster carers can validate what you are going through.
When you’ve had an especially difficult day or a foster child in your care is struggling with troubling behaviours, try to maintain perspective by remembering why you chose to foster in the first place – to provide stability and nurturing support to vulnerable children until they can achieve permanency. The profound difference you are making in their lives outweighs the hard times. Practice gratefulness for the privilege of being part of their healing journey.
Foster caring brings immense purpose and delight along with demanding moments that can stretch carers to the breaking point without the right coping mechanisms in place. However, with the right coping strategies, fostering can be sustainably balanced and enjoyable long-term. Reach out for help when you need it – you cannot pour from an empty cup.