There’s a lot of advice out there on how to help a foster child settle into your home. But, what about your own adjustment? Welcoming a child into your household is a big change. For a while, it can feel as though you are unable to relax in your own home, and if you are uncomfortable, it will be much harder for you to help the child to settle. Here are some tips to help foster parents adjust to life with a new foster child.
Make Time for Yourself
Life with a child can be overwhelming. This is true whether it’s a foster child or your own child. It’s true of babies and teens. Children have a habit of taking over our lives, and as a foster carer, you are bound to want to give any new child lots of your attention and love. But to do this, you need to make some time for yourself. Small things like a bubble bath once the kids are in bed, or ten minutes in the afternoon with a coffee and a book while the kids play can help to restore your energy levels and patience.
Be Kind to Yourself
Foster children don’t follow a set pattern. Some will settle quickly without upsetting your usual routines too much. Others will find the transition much more difficult. When this happens, it’s easy to punish and blame yourself. But this will only make the settling in period harder for all of you. It’s not your fault, you are doing your best, we all face these challenges, and you need to be kind to yourself and focus on the brilliant thing you are doing.
Build a Support Network
As a foster carer, your support network of family and friends is important. But the support of people who understand what you are going through and have similar experiences can be absolutely crucial if you are going to adjust to a difficult situation. Sites like orangegrovefostercare.co.uk are invaluable, and if you can, joining groups and meeting other foster carers can give you an essential outlet.
Plan Easy Activities
Some new foster children will come in and be very open with you straight away. Others will be overwhelmed, and some might be very shy and difficult to get to know. Easy activities like baking, reading, crafts and movie nights can get everyone talking without any pressure, and help everyone to relax into their new roles.
Take Care of Yourself
Prioritising sleep, exercise and good nutrition will help to boost your energy levels, improve your mood, and generally help you to feel better and ready to take on the challenge of fostering with an open mind.
Stick to a Routine
Of course, you are going to have to change your routine somewhat to welcome a child into your life but try to stick to the things that you love doing as much as you can. This will help you to adjust to other changes.
Fostering is a wonderful thing. Look after yourself, practise self-care, and try to have some fun with each new addition to your family, and the adjustment will be easier for everyone.