What is self-care for foster parents and their children?
Self-care for foster and adoptive parents
Caring for yourself is the first step to caring for others.
Self-care should be a top priority for foster parents and adoptive parents. Taking care of children, especially children in the foster care system, can be stressful. To give the best quality of life for the child you have chosen to bring into your life, you must have a plan to care for yourself.
Self-care doesn't just involve mental health and physical health. It involves all areas of your life, including:
It's important to consistently focus on your well-being. Practicing consistency will improve your overall wellness. Recognize which areas you need the most help with and aim to enhance your well-being in those areas.
4 Reasons to practice self-care:
- It provides balance. Our daily lives are filled with stressors. Some stressors can be positive (adding a foster child to the family, starting a new job, getting a new pet) or negative (being stuck in traffic, child forgetting to do their chores, arguing with spouse/partner). It's essential to balance our negative emotions with positive emotions. Implementing self-care activities provides the time and space to feel those positive emotions that improve the day.
- It provides the potential to learn more about yourself. Maybe you don't like yoga, or maybe you enjoy checking your work email on the weekends. Practicing and implementing different types of self-care will teach you more about yourself. In practicing self-care, you may also figure out things that trigger you and how you respond to the trigger (maybe you yell at your spouse/partner when they leave a wet towel on the floor, or you get angry when your child interrupts you while you pray). Recognizing triggers and acting accordingly models excellent personal development for your family members.
- It allows you to care for others. When you're in an airplane, they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on your child. You've heard the saying, "you can't pour from an empty cup." The mindset is all the same, you can't help others if you aren't at your best. Implementing self-care will ensure that you are operating at your highest capabilities.
- It improves mood and decreases anxiety. Some days are just going to be more challenging than others. Whether you have a diagnosed mental health condition or you're just having a bad day, self-care can help how you're feeling. Being intentional with your forms of self-care gives you a routine of positive emotions to look forward to.
Here are some examples of activities to try for each area.
- Keep a journal
- Write 5 things you're grateful for
- Watch a movie that makes you feel good
- Do random acts of kindness
- Go on a walk with your family
- Drink more water
- Get a massage
- Play outside with your children
- Attend therapy
- Meditation/Deep breathing
- Read a book
- Do a puzzle
- Don't do work at home
- Set boundaries with boss/coworkers
- Take work breaks
- Take vacation and sick days
- Play a board game with your family
- Spend time with friends
- Ask others for help
- Talk with your children about their friends/hobbies/interests
- Light candles
- Take a vacation
- Bake something that smells good
- Take the scenic route
- Listen to some music
- Treat yourself
- Save up for something big
- Have an emergency fund
- Go to church
- Read spiritual/religious texts
Caring for yourself is the most important thing you can do. Though it may be hard to fit into a busy schedule, it is a healthy and productive habit to build. Including your family and children in your self-care actions is also possible. Modeling self-compassion will show your foster or adoptive children how they can best care for themselves.
Hopefully, these four reasons to practice self-care and examples of activities can be beneficial and influential in your life. Teaching self-compassion and self-care to your foster or adoptive children can be a fantastic journey for them and yourself. Don't be afraid to be a role model in self-care for them as you go through your daily life.