We're talking about splitting the mental load of being a foster parent, challenges and how to support each other.
Taking care of your mental and emotional health is so important when you’re pouring out a lot as a parent and facing different challenges and stressful situations day in and day out and you can quickly become like an engine running without oil.
Part of keeping your marriage first is helping each other mentally and emotionally
In a marriage we often fall into our roles of who does what.
Many times, one person takes the lead on the kids and/ or the fostering relationships - whether with DCS or the biological family as well as taking the lead on the fostering tasks - visits, therapies, communications, paperwork, documenting things, etc. Plus just the decision fatigue.
It's important for the spouse who doesn't take on as much to recognize how draining this can be and have empathy.
It's also important to remember you experience, process on and think about things differently.
Here are keys to practice, as the spouse who shoulders more load:
- Communicate how you’re doing
- Ask for help including breaks (30 minutes to a weekend)
- Learning to accept help
- Importance of date nights/get-aways/respite
- Get help/coaching
- Bring up what tasks can come off your plate
- Expectation management (it won’t look like life before)
- Day to day life/routine
- How much you can really get done
- Flex your picture of your life/lifestyle/home/routines
Here are keys to practice, as the spouse who doesn't shoulder as much:
- Pay attention to your spouse and how they’re doing
- Empathize and listen
- Check in to see your spouse is doing from time to time
- Don’t minimize your spouse’s experiences and feelings
- Ask what you can take away from and be specific about it
Remember the big picture of keeping your marriage healthy (i.e. be careful of selfishness, wanting your routines/day-to-day to stay the same, etc.)
Keeping the big picture of a healthy marriage is so important so continue to openly communicate with each other to navigate the day to day, week to week challenges.
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