TAGS: Becoming A Foster Parent
Written by Washington Foster Team
Becoming a foster parent isn’t easy, even when you’re in a committed relationship. Without a partner to help them shoulder the workload and stress, single foster parents often face unique difficulties.
- They often have to do it all on a single income: Couples frequently have the advantage of a dual income, making it easier to cover expenses or take time off work when necessary. Single foster parents are more likely to bear sole financial responsibility, adding to their pressure.
- There’s less time to fit everything in: Being a foster parent is extremely time-consuming. For single foster parents, there’s even less time for everything that needs to be done. They’re the ones taking time off of work when their foster child is sick and they’re responsible for every appointment with therapists, counselors, and healthcare workers. That’s in addition to daily parenting duties, things such as making meals, providing transportation, organizing activities, and bonding with their foster child.
It can be tough!
However, throughout the state, there are many single people who have made the important choice to become foster parents. These people are champions! They’re also desperately needed and possess the power to make a huge impact on the lives of countless foster children.
Are you single and considering becoming a foster parent? Here are a few tips and tricks you can apply to make your fostering journey a success.
Set A Schedule
Routine is essential. A consistent schedule provides your foster child with a sense of stability and security, and it also makes your life easier. Tasks are less likely to slip through the cracks and you’ll feel more calm and organized.
As Brandon Fisher, single foster parent to a 6-year-old boy says, “Always set the children up on a time schedule. When you’re home: bedtime, dinner, hygiene time — make it all scheduled. Over time it will get easier.”
Talk To Other Foster Parents
Other foster parents are an excellent source of wisdom and support. If you have the ability to reach out to any, definitely do it! Fostering as a single parent can get lonely and isolating quickly, so it helps a lot to connect with other people who understand what you’re going through and can offer perspective and advice.
Encourage Your Foster Child’s Specific Interests
All kids have specific topics or activities that spark their interest. They can be into sports, music, cooking, or even dinosaurs. When you help your foster child discover their niche, you’re giving them the opportunity to build their identity and focus on an activity they find rewarding. Spending time practicing an instrument or drawing in a sketchbook is enriching for them, but it also takes some of the pressure away from you to provide entertainment or come up with additional activities.
Consider Each Day A Chance To Start Fresh
When frustrations or fears pile up day after day, it can encourage resentment and make for an unhealthy dynamic between you and your foster child. To prevent this from happening, greet each morning as a new start, filled with fresh opportunities. This attitude will help you stay positive, while also demonstrating to your foster child that they don't have to be bound by the mistakes and trauma of the past.
Take Advantage Of Respite Care When You Need It
Respite care is a service that provides a temporary, safe place for foster kids to stay. It’s designed to relieve stress or help out when foster parents have an obligation and cannot include their foster child. While COVID-19 has complicated the use of respite care, under normal circumstances it’s an excellent resource for overwhelmed foster parents. Pride might tempt you to try to do everything by yourself, but there’s no shame in accepting help when you need it.
Share What You Love
Fostering is a great opportunity to share the experiences you find meaningful with your foster child. If you love camping, throw your tent in the car and take a trip together to visit your favorite camping spot. Your foster child may not end up connecting with the specific things you love (and you have to be prepared for that), but by sharing your interests with them, you’re introducing them to new possibilities and showing that you value their perspective.
All foster parents, whether single or in a relationship, are going to experience difficult days. While the work can be deeply rewarding, it isn’t always simple or easy. By staying focused on the positives and applying these tips and tricks, single foster parents can have a tremendous impact on the lives of the kids they help.
“No matter how strenuous, no matter how upset or frustrated I get — my time is for him and I'm going to be there through it all, no matter what. I'm advocating for him like nobody's business.” — Brandon Fisher