The simple four-letter word is not easily embraced, especially in foster care families.
According to statistics, 30 to 50 percent of parents decide to stop fostering each year.
That means foster parents are burnt out, which causes children in foster care to have fewer options for a safe and loving family environment.
But how does one balance the regular tasks of being a parent along with all the extra appointments, family visits, and therapy?
Rest often doesn’t fit in the space of a foster parent’s crammed calendar. It’s challenging to make time for something that doesn’t seem like a need.
But the truth is, rest is a need.
And it’s not accomplished by folding socks on the couch or shutting your eyes for 30 seconds.
Rest means Sabbath. It’s finding time with God and your family to reconnect while being away from the world’s distractions.
Whether it’s whispering prayers while planting your garden or going on a date night with your spouse, rest may look different depending on the day or week.
If you’re still thinking, ‘Rest is just not possible right now in my family,’ here are four ways to start your journey toward finding respite as a foster parent.
1. Be intentional to pick a time to get away with God.
This may look like a not-so-relaxing morning commute turned into a worship session or setting your alarm to read Scripture 30 minutes before the kids normally get up. Try it once or twice, be flexible, and adjust what works with your family.
We promise that the peace that comes from being with God is totally worth it.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Reach out to friends or family who support your foster care journey. If one of them has met the credentials to watch the kids, set up a time for them to babysit. Instead of running errands, go to a coffeeshop to meet up with another encouraging friend, or journal and read a life-giving book. Yes, you may still have things on your to-do list. It’s OK. You are important, too. It’s time to invest in yourself so you can continue to help others.
3. Have accountability.
Although these practical tips to finding rest may seem attainable now, it’s much better if you have someone to hold you accountable—especially when a new child in foster care comes into your home or school starts and your world gets turned upside down.
Rest doesn’t need to only happen when it’s convenient. Find another foster mom or dad to text and hold you accountable to your respite goals. Help them meet their goals, too.
4. Let your children spend the day at Three Rivers Respite.
If you’re still unsure how to find respite or who to rely on with your kids, consider signing them up for a summer day camp. Both children in foster care and their siblings are welcome, meaning your elementary and middle school-age kids can attend.
We’d love to have them on our seven-acre camp property on Johns Island for a day filled with games, fishing, crafts, and activities. And we’d also love for you to find rest.
As parents to seven children ourselves, we know how difficult it is to find respite—and how life-changing it is, as well.
We hope you take us up on the offer. After all, that’s why we’re here. We want to give you rest. It’s ok to ask for and receive help. Let us help you on this journey.
—Matt and Heather