The wellbeing of foster parents plays a huge part in children and young people feeling safe and happy in their placement. Fostering is a life changing and incredibly rewarding role but it also comes with its challenges. Looking after children who have suffered a trauma can be difficult.
When foster parents feel overwhelmed, stress and not cared for it can lead to something called blocked care, you can read our blog post on that here.
At our Agency we want to change the lives of children but also and importantly the experience that foster parent have. Right from the outset we have consulted with foster parents about their needs and designed a service and support package based around that. Foster parents at Changing Futures Fostering receive,
- Training in Mentalisation Based Therapy. Its an important tool to use when looking after children but it also helps adults recognise and regulate their emotions and behaviours in stressful situations. You can read more about that training element here.
- Birthday, Christmas and school holiday additional payments. Financial worries often lead to stress. We’ve taken away that worry by providing additional payments around those key times of the year.
- Psychology support– When you are approved you will have a supervision and support meeting every 2 weeks to check in and see how things are. This is also accompanied with 24/7 phone support.
Wellbeing is incredibly important to our agency and we show this through our actions and offering a high level support package
Combining both our help and self help , wellbeing can really improve. Here are a few tips that foster parents can do themselves. They may seem small and some pretty obvious but sometimes when we are struggling they are easy to overlook.
Be kind to yourself. When things are going wrong or at least feel like they are we can find it easy to blame ourselves. Take a moment to think about how we talk about ourselves, we can sometimes be much harder on ourselves then we would be to others.
Take some time to put yourself first. Foster parents tend to put the needs of their family ahead of their own wellbeing. Taking time for yourself is not selfish it is in fact important and crucial in helping you be there for your foster family. Everyone needs to recharge from time to time. Plan something for you to do just for you! You can start small and simply set yourself 10-20 mins a day to have a sit down and be on your own in the quiet for a while.
Ask for help . Reaching for support is nothing to be ashamed off, everyone and we cannot stress this enough EVERYONE has tough times when caring for children. Asking for help can be daunting but can really make a difference. Think about have you got friends or family who would watch the children for you for a short time. Is there a friend who could run a small errand for you. At our agency your Supervising Social Worker is your go to person for when you need support with your fostering role. We recommend being really specific about the help you need to the people you reach out too, it’ll help them offer your support that you need and not what they think you need.
Being social and saying no. Balance is very important here. Seeing friends and family are a key part of self care, its good to laugh and spend time with others. It’s great when we have friends with children who we can check in with as it can help us realise we are not alone with the difficulties of looking after children. At the same time, you can say no. Say no to social get togethers if you don’t feel up to them. Boundaries are important and healthy.
Go outdoors and be active. It isn’t until you get out and about and get those steps in that your realise how much better you feel. It can be hard to find the motivation when you are struggling with low mood but being physically active can help improve anxious feelings.
A good nights sleep. We know that good sleep is beneficial for our mental health but it is also a really useful self-care tool. It provides us with a break and space away from our thoughts. It is easier said then done if you are looking after very young children but a great first step is establishing a good sleep routine with the whole family. Helping your children to sleep better will ultimately help you to have a better sleep too!
Whether you are a foster parent at our Agency or a local foster parent we hope that you have found some of this blog useful. Foster parents change the lives of local children and that role can be difficult. To find out more about fostering at our agency, the support we can offer and whether transferring to our foster agency might be the right move for you, just ring 01429 363127 or leave us a message.