ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The OhioKAN Staff is here to help kinship and adoptive families access all the resources available to them statewide.
As I get older, I have noticed the absolute need for self-care. I try to make it to the gym at least 4 times a week and, during the pandemic, I lost over 30 lbs. I use that hour in the gym for me time. I leave my phone in the car, use an IPOD for my listening pleasure, and the rest of the world is drowned out.
Self-care is important for everyone, especially those with the rewarding, yet difficult job of helping children heal. Like the children in their care, kin and foster parents need to find ways of experiencing strong feelings without becoming overwhelmed. They must also take care of themselves — physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.
New Ways to Exercise:
- Practice breathing, mindfulness, and muscle relaxation exercises on your own and with your kids.
- If you practice them when kids are calm, they’ll have more skills to draw on when they are upset.
- Sit on the floor criss-cross style and take in the moment. Take 15 minutes to embrace what you have and what’s ahead of you.Self-care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness.
The Seven Pillars of Self-Care
- Knowledge and health literacy: Learning how you can take better care of your physical and mental health.
- Mental well-being or self-awareness:Managing stress, asking and accepting help, using coping skills, building self-esteem.
- Physical activity:Taking walks, going for a bike ride, taking a yoga class, playing a sport.
- Healthy eating:Being mindful of what you eat, limiting caffeine intake, maintaining a well-balanced diet.
- Risk avoidance:voiding or limiting alcohol and tobacco/nicotine use, using sunscreen, getting vaccinated.
- Good hygiene:Brushing and flossing teeth, washing hands.
- Rational use of products and services:Safely using medication, going to therapy or counseling, going to the doctor for regular check-ups.
If you are a foster parent or kinship caregiver and you are struggling, it may help to refocus on self-care. To get back on track, go through the Seven Pillars of Self-Care. Ask yourself if there any areas you’ve been neglecting and accept that it’s okay to ask for help. If you have a partner, ask them to take over for an hour or two. If you’re a single foster parent, try to find some time in your schedule for you—even if it’s only five or ten minutes.
When exploring self-care, it’s important to understand that everyone’s needs are different and to not compare yourself to others. One common trend for foster parents is comparing themselves to other parents. This can be discouraging and force you to neglect yourself as you try to exceed the perceived expectations of others. Every family has its struggles. No one is perfect, no matter what they post on social media or talk about publicly.
What Is Self-Care, International Self-Care Foundation, https://isfglobal.org/what-is-self-care/