The life of a foster parent is a difficult one. It is unlike any other life style. The outside world does not see the many challenges and struggles you may face on a daily, and sometimes hourly basis. Your friends and family don’t truly understand or appreciate what you are going through. Others see the children coming in and out of your home on a regular basis, and most find it a wonderful thing you are doing, but also may find it a little odd or strange, and question why you do it.
You will often find yourself exhausted, both mentally and physically, and feel drained. There is very little money available to help you, and you may not be reimbursed for all the money you spend on your foster child. The job will require you to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no time off. You will probably feel overworked and under appreciated. You will work with children who are most likely coming from difficult and harmful environments. Some of these children will have health issues, some will come with behavioral issues, and some will struggle with learning disabilities. Many times, the children you work with will try your patience, and leave you with headaches, frustrations, disappointments, and even heartbreaks.
So, it is okay to say “No,” once in a while as a foster parent. It is okay for you to take time for yourself, your spouse, and your family. It is okay to re-charge those batteries. It’s okay to take some time off to grieve the loss of a child from foster care in your home, and in your life. As a foster parent, you NEED to take care of yourself. You NEED to ensure that you are watching out after yourself, finding the time you need for you, and the help you need to care for not only the children in your home, but for yourself and your family. If you do not, all that you do will suffer.
Check out John’s latest book, The Little Book of Foster Care Wisdom.