If you are getting ready to foster, you’ve probably thought about how you’ll prepare your home and family for a new addition, how to make a new child feel safe and welcome, and how you’ll help them adjust to their life with you. But you might not have thought much about how you will cope with life as a foster carer. While it’s a beautiful experience, to be able to enjoy it, you need to prepare yourself and think about your own mental health and needs. Here are some tips to help you adapt to life as a foster carer.
Give Yourself Time
Adjusting to a new way of life takes time, even if it’s something you have longed for and are excited about. Don’t worry, or punish yourself, if it doesn’t feel right straight away. Give yourself time to process the changes and adjust, and don’t worry if it takes time to adapt to each new child in your care.
Routines are good for children, providing safety and stability, which is crucial for foster children, but they are also great for foster parents. Patterns make it easier to manage your time, reducing stress and making it easier to find time for yourself.
Protect Your Mental Health
Your family will always be your priority. But to be a great parent or carer, you must look after your mental health and well-being. Make sure you’ve got ways to reduce stress and a good support network and that you open up to the people who care about you.
Get the Right Training and Support
Fostering a child is a huge learning curve. You can feel lost in certain situations without the proper support and training. Training and support can help you feel more confident in your decision-making and give you the tools you need to cope in all situations on your fostering journey. You can get support and training from your fostering agency and local authority but don’t underestimate what you could learn from other foster carers and families. Reach out online and join fostering groups in your local area.
Make Time for Yourself
It can be challenging for any carer to find time for themselves, but doing so will help you be the person the children in your care need. Taking time out by reading a book for 10 minutes with a coffee or going for a walk with a friend will give you a chance to process your feelings and remember who you are away from the children.
Plan Fun Activities
Having activities planned helps us to get through challenging times and gives everyone something to look forward to. Make sure you’ve always got a fun family activity to look forward to, whether it is something big like a holiday or trip or a day out at a local museum or park.
Fostering is a journey with plenty of ups and downs. Embracing the journey and enjoying time with your foster children will help you to adapt.
Fostering is a fantastic thing with huge benefits. Being prepared, protecting your mental health and embracing the experience will help you to reap these benefits.