When you start your foster carer journey, it is a phenomenal feeling. There are lots of things to take on board, and no two carer experiences are ever identical. The one thing that anyone in this role has in common is that finding a balance between being a carer and caring for yourself is essential. Here are some ways that you can find equilibrium in your life and maintain high standards across the board.
Understand the Responsibilities that Lie Ahead
There are many things to learn about fostering a child properly. There are always common misconceptions to counteract and fact filling to be done as well. Understanding the responsibilities of what’s to come during your first placement and any subsequent children that come into your life is essential. Get to know the role and all it entails so that you are armed with facts and have a true insight into what is expected from you.
Plan Your Respite Times
Respite is a term that primarily applies to long-term fostering engagements. A respite carer will step in and provide a few nights of support once a month, or as and when it is needed. It is important to take this option because every adult that looks after a child, regardless of whether that is your own child or otherwise, needs downtime to be themselves.
Stay on Top of Your Skills
Learning where your strengths are and what your weaknesses look like will be the best thing you can do for yourself and any child that you look after on the road ahead. Take an active approach to staying on top of your fostering skills by embracing any training that is on offer and doing a whole load of retrospective analysis. Whenever you deal with a difficult patch, ask yourself what went well and what could you have changed.
Self-Care Must Continue
You are no good to anyone if you don’t look after yourself. Foster carers may have a unique perspective on life, but they still owe it to themselves and the foster children that they look after to be mindful of self-care. Not only will you be setting a positive example for the foster children, but you will also be ensuring that you are the healthiest, strongest version of yourself. This is a role that requires you to be on the ball and giving, and this is only possible if you are invested in a personal care agenda.
If there is one thing in life that can make anyone feel safe, supported, and balanced it is routine. Knowing what to expect and having tools in place to face upheavals is so much easier when you establish a pattern and have a comfort blanket to fall back on. You can be a lot more balanced and support positive well-being practices by establishing some boundaries and expectations in this area.
Finding the balance between caring responsibilities and being, well, ‘you’, is essential for carving out a positive fostering journey. There is much to be learned, and you can only do it if you are supporting yourself every step of the way.