All of us can appreciate and understand the importance of taking care of ourselves so that we are able to give full and proper care to our children. However, actually putting this into practice in our everyday lives can be difficult.
Foster parents have a seemingly never ending list of roles and responsibilities. Court hearings, medical appointments, school meetings, meetings with case workers, and collaborating with the child’s birth parents are just a few items on a foster parent’s “To Do” list.
As Foster Care Coordinators and licensing workers, you have the opportunity to continually reinforce with you foster parents the benefits of practicing self-care for overall health and wellness. Practicing self-care does not have to be a big time or financial investment. Realistic and practical ideas such as enjoying a walk or hike in a city park, meditating, journaling, reading a book, attending a training seminar, taking a bubble bath, listening to music, swimming, taking a long overdue nap, and enjoying time with friends, are but a few examples of how foster parents might incorporate regular self-care practices in their daily lives.
There are numerous online resources that you might share with foster parents on mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and other self-care resources. One such tool is an assessment and curriculum like the
Trauma Systems Therapy for Foster Care (TST-FC)
. TST-FC’s self-care assessment allows foster parents to develop plans to support themselves. The self-care assessment measures both strengths and areas for potential growth in the following areas:
- Physical self-care (e.g., wellness, nutrition, and exercise)
- Psychological self-care (e.g., self-reflection and introspection)
- Emotional self-care, (e.g., family, friends and recreational activities)
- Spiritual self-care (e.g., connections to faith, spiritualism, and other beliefs)
- Workplace self-care (e.g., workload responsibilities, vacation time, and overall work—life balance)
Compassion fatigue is an ongoing concern for all who care for and support children with trauma histories. Caregivers are compassionate and empathetic people by nature; they want the absolute best for the children they care for. A gentle reminder from you that, in order for us to be at our best for others, we need to make sure we are taking the best care of ourselves can go a long way!