Mindfulness in Foster Care
Foster care and adoption is a rewarding journey that requires a lot of planning and energy to manage day-to-day needs. Families are doing everything from managing appointments, school activities, and therapies to family commitments, crisis management and re-certification requirements. It can be difficult to find a moment to pause and rest, especially when rest matters the most.
One of the ways that families can be intentional about setting aside this very important time is to implement a mindfulness practice. Creating moments to pause and reflect before reacting to stressors helps families gain control over the ways they respond under difficult, emotional and stressful circumstances. In supporting your foster or adoptive family, be on the lookout for signs of stress that might indicate they are overwhelmed and would benefit from taking some space for themselves. Some signs to look for are parents who are easily agitated, have low energy, are constantly racing or no longer participate in activities that once brought them joy. When you repeatedly check in with no response from the family, that’s a time to be more, not less persistent! Below are some ideas you can suggest to help foster and adoptive parents implement mindfulness and ease the burden of physical, emotional, and psychological stress.
Take three deep breaths: This simple act brings oxygen into the body to relieve a stress reaction. After a few deep breaths, ask yourself what is triggering stress in that moment. Give yourself what you need to soften tension in your body. Speak affirming words over yourself, such as, “God has promised me everything I need today.” “I am a good parent and want the best for this child.” If there is something specific you need, offer a breath prayer, “Father, grant me patience in this moment.”
Set one goal for the day: Create verbal and visual cues for your most important goal. For a foster parent with a goal of “grace for myself and patience with my child,” the cue could be, “Grace and patience.” One adoptive mom posted the three TBRI principles, “Connect, empower, correct.” Stick post-its throughout the house and car with those words. Set a phone reminder or have your support team commit to text you reminders and prayers throughout the day.
Be aware of any points of tightness in the body: Is there tension stored somewhere specific in your body? For example, your neck, shoulders, stomach, jaw or lower back? If possible, stretch tense areas once a day. A quick way to do this is to take a deep breath, allow your shoulders to drop, turn your head to the left and right and back to center, drop your head with another deep breath, and raise the chin to look forward.
Take advantage of waiting periods: Waiting to pick a foster child up from therapy or a family visit? Waiting for caseworkers to arrive for a home visit? Waiting on hold to schedule an appointment? There is a lot of waiting in foster care. Utilize this time to pause for a few minutes of rest. Meditate on scripture, do a few yoga stretches, or close your eyes and breathe to a favorite song.
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