By Sometimes Mom
Follow her on Instagram @sometimes_mom
As summer comes to an end, I hope everyone was able to enjoy some R&R. Traditionally, R&R stands for rest and relaxation (or recreation) but for foster parents, the key word is respite.
Since finding childcare for a foster child isn’t as easy as just hiring a babysitter, often, other foster parents are called on to provide respite care. Foster parents (at least in Massachusetts) are offered a certain number of hours of respite. Respite might be needed if a foster parent is traveling and can’t take the child with them, they become ill or need surgery, or if they just need a break.
The word respite might not be as commonly used outside of foster care, but the concept is important for all parents and all people, really. Sometimes, we just need a break.
After our last long-term placement left our home, we prioritized taking a break from foster care. This break lasted close to 5 months, but it was absolutely what we needed for our mental health. During this time, we were able to grieve our loss, spend more time with friends and family, go on vacation, and complete projects around the house. We were so lucky to be able to take this break when we needed it that eventually, we were even able to provide respite to other foster parents.
Over the summer, we welcomed two separate respite placements into our home. The first placement was just for one night and the second, for three weeks. Both were adorable little boys, and we enjoyed every minute of their time with us. We were not only able to help provide a safe, short-term home for a child, we were able connect with other foster parents. Since I don’t know many other foster parents, I embrace this opportunity. Most foster parents don’t feel comfortable leaving their children with a stranger, so I’ve noticed that many will network with each other to find respite providers that they know and trust.
Whether or not you’re a foster parent, burnout is real and respite is essential. There is nothing noble about exhausting ourselves for our job or our kids and it seems like we are slowly starting to realize that as a society. There are always people who want to help us, why is our instinct to resist so vehemently?
Whatever your version of R&R is, make it a priority. Accept the help and take the break!