A lot of research has been conducted into the stress experienced by foster parents compared to biological parents. These studies found that the stressors that foster parents face are far greater than in the non-foster home. Behavioural challenges exhibited by foster children are one of the biggest causes of this. Other factors are delays in development, psychological conditions, and chronic physical health disorders.
It is important that foster parents can manage their stress if they are to play a positive role in the lives of these children, who are already traumatised in numerous ways. While being a foster parent is rewarding, it is more challenging than raising your biological children. We looked at a few key strategies that helped foster parents manage their stress and avoid burnout.
Whether you set aside a home office or your bedroom as a no-go area or set up a regular time that you will be left alone there, it is important to have a place to escape to every day for an hour. With younger foster children, you may need to wait until they are in bed. This space should be calming, and you should shut off all technological devices.
This is me-time and should be enjoyable if it is to be effective. Put aside all your thoughts about duties, responsibilities, and worries. Put on some music that makes you feel good and whole. Engage in activities that you think you don’t have time for but love, such as reading.
With fostering UK you will receive the training that allows you to cope with the demands of your foster children. These could be their physical disabilities, emotional responses, difficult questions, fears and anxieties, and acting out to get attention. This is by no means a complete list. What is important is that you will learn skills and techniques to handle problems as they arise and feel more competent and confident. Take advantage of these courses as they will make your life much easier.
Meet with other foster parents to share experiences. Use the available support structures. Your agency will arrange this. They will also be able to give you a short break with relief care fostering where you get an occasional day, weekend, or even a week to yourself. Don’t feel guilty about accepting this help. It is in your best interests but also restores you so that you can give your foster child the much-needed support they deserve.
Have a spa day, go to the beach, or visit a friend. Do something enjoyable and enjoy the break. You have earned it.
While the main care of a foster child may fall on the parent who is at home during the day, both parents need to share in the chores. A foster child will take up more time in your day with therapy sessions, social worker meetings, behavioural challenges, needing additional help with schoolwork and their development, and extra loving attention.
Don’t neglect your spouse, your parents, and your other children. Create special moments with each person that matters to you. Engage in activities for the whole family and make sure you get away from the home as a group from time to time.
You want to give your foster child a new lease on life and to do that, you have to take care of yourself.
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