The Parents

Why Foster Mamas Don’t Practice Self-Care

March 12, 2024

The main reason my clients give for not being able to practice self care is that they don’t have time.  But in my experience (both personally and professionally), I think the real problem is we somehow get to a place where we are thriving on our chaos.  By that I mean, our frantic lifestyle somehow […]

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The main reason my clients give for not being able to practice self care is that they don’t have time.  But in my experience (both personally and professionally), I think the real problem is we somehow get to a place where we are thriving on our chaos.  By that I mean, our frantic lifestyle somehow becomes this warped badge of honor.  The badge itself weighs a ton and is almost certainly toxic to our well-being, and yet we tend to flaunt it like it’s doing just the opposite.  We want people to see that even though we are existing in chaos most of the time, it’s ours…and look, I’m still here!  I can do it!  All by myself!  We become too prideful to ask for help or delegate tasks or accept that we aren’t actually perfect.
Whenever a client comes into my office for the first time, I listen carefully to everything they say.  I assess their situation and try to determine if there is any unhealthy coping going on.  Then, the conversation usually goes something like this:
Me:  Wow, you’ve really got a lot going on.  So let me ask you…what are you doing to cope with all of this?  How are you taking care of yourself?
Client:  (blank stare).  What?
Me:  You know, what are you doing that’s good for you?  What do you like to do that’s healthy for you?
Client:  Oh…well….I mean…I like to read.
Me:  Ok, good.  Reading is great.  So how often are you able to relax and read a bit?
Client:  Well…sometimes on the weekends.  But not very much. I’m just so busy, I honestly don’t have time for anything like that.
This is not an exaggeration.  It doesn’t matter if the client is in their early teens or are well into mid-life…literally all of my clients come to me without a regular plan for taking care of themselves.  And then when I suggest it, they inevitably say the four words that make me cringe the absolute most:  “I don’t have time.”
Um…yes, you do.  We all do.  We all can and must make time for self care.
Before I get ahead of myself, let me start by validating this feeling. I truly do get it, as I used to be there myself.  A few years ago when I was in the throes of mothering toddlers and babies, I definitely felt like I didn’t have time to do anything good just for me.  Despite the fact that my husband was a super hands-on dad and was home for dinner and bedtime each night, I still felt like my daily life was all about meeting the needs of everyone else.  If someone would have asked me what I was doing to take care of myself, on most days I would laughed and said, “Well…I took a shower today!”
So please understand I am in no way judging you if you feel like you don’t have time for self care.  I promise that’s not the case. And I also want to say that there are certainly seasons in life where we have more or less time for ourselves.  One of my friends just had a baby and she may be reading this at 3 am one night, wanting to reach through the computer screen and punch me for suggesting she has time for self care.  Believe me, I get it!  I just wish I would have known years ago what I know now…that no matter how crazy life seems, everyone around me seems to be happier when I am.  My mom always says, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
Friends, I beg you…please please please make time for yourselves. Do what you need to do to make sure this happens on a regular basis.  Find ways to fit small bits of self care into your day.  Find ways to plan for a lengthier self care practice occasionally.  Get your FREE weekly self care planner…because we all know, if we don’t plan for it, it most likely isn’t gonna happen!
Who can you ask for help so you can find some extra time in your day just for you?  What task can you delegate so you feel freer to have some “me time?”  Where can you accept a standard lower than perfection so you can enjoy life a bit more?  By simply taking a few focused minutes to consider these things, you will reap the benefits of taking care of you…and so will everyone else in your life.  If you’re anything like me, you’re much better equipped to love and serve others when you are rested and refreshed.
Do you have any other ideas for how to make time for self care?  Feel free to share with us in the comments!

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I'm Cathleen, your new (foster) mom friend.

I'm also a psychotherapist in private practice who wants to teach my fellow foster mamas the skills that ACTUALLY work to overcome stress, anxiety and overwhelm...'cause ain't nobody got time for that!

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