Becoming a foster parent is a major decision because it involves a great deal of responsibility. After all, you need to raise a child who is totally unknown to you. There are several challenges that you may face, from dealing with behavioral issues to getting acceptance from your family, making the foster child comfortable in your home, and more. Additionally, there are some legal implications that you need to deal with. Furthermore, you may end up feeling drained due to the physical and emotional aspects of foster parenting.
Despite the challenges, the rewards of the experience are immense as you get the satisfaction of making a difference to the lives of a child and a family. Taking good care of yourself is important to experience the joy of fostering without loathing all the effort that goes into it. Some self-care tips can help you deal with the burnout and challenges of being foster parent. Let us list them so that you can cope with the pressures and become a good parent to a happy child.
- Seek support of your spouse
Start by understanding that foster parenting is not a solo job that you can handle on your own. Involve your partner in the decision because you will need their help and support at every stage. In fact, it can be demanding on your relationship as well but doing it together can actually strengthen your bonding with your partner. Even if you do get the child home, remain connected with your partner. Find out time to go on dates so that you can reconnect as a couple. For singles, you can seek support of friends or family to get help with the parenting tasks that may possibly exhaust you.
- Involve your biological children
If you already have biological children while opting to bring in a foster child, involve them in your decision. The older ones can even help you to take care of the new, younger family member. Not only will this help you to get physical assistance with parenting, but also make your children comfortable with the foster child. This will be a major stress busting factor because getting acceptance from your children can be a major concern.
- Stay organized with your responsibilities
If you choose to become a foster carer, there will be several major responsibilities that you should be prepared for. There will be legal formalities to take care of while you will also have mandatory appointments with your social support professionals, medical practitioners and behavioral therapists. Since there is so much to do, you may find it tough to juggle them along with family and work responsibilities. Staying organized and having a calendar to manage them all is a good way to prevent a burnout and have a smooth sail as a foster parent.
- Have realistic expectations
Fostering means a lot of work and it is advisable to have realistic expectations. After all, you are a human being and may make parenting mistakes. Setting standards that are too high will not do you any good because fostering brings unexpected challenges. For instance, you may encounter violent behavior and other emotional challenges with the child. Getting them comfortable and settled may take longer than expected. Being unrealistic with your expectations with only stress you out; the best approach is to go with the flow.
- Get connected with yourself
Another self-care tip to deal with the hassles of foster parenting is to get connected with yourself first. After all, only a happy and contented person will make a good parent. As a foster parent, you will get a state stipend which you can invest for day care if you need a break. You can use this time to unwind and run the errands which you may not be able to do otherwise while taking care of the child. Ask for help from a friend if you are feeling too tired to look after a young child alone. You can also seek community support as there are churches and child care organizations that are willing to do their own bit to help foster parents.
Fostering is a big responsibility in itself and you may experience failure once or more. The journey can be physically demanding and emotionally stressful, yet there is no need to feel guilty if you come across challenges. This is an art that you will be able to master with time, as even birth parents do. The right approach is to take things easy and evolve as a parent. A positive attitude and lots of patience, love and commitment make a great recipe for successful foster parenting.