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Self-care for yourself and your family

Being vigilant about health and wellbeing is essential for carers in the foster care system.

Lack of self-care and not being able to ask for help can be a recipe for burnout.

What is self-care?

Self-care means looking after your own mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

As a carer, self-care is essential to learn how to carve out time to look after yourself as you look after others.

“When new carers start, they do training and this includes self-care training,” says Natasha Ellis, a FACS senior case work practitioner with the Foster Care team in the Nepean Blue Mountains and Western Sydney district.

“It’s an important message for us to send out that it is fine for carers to ask for help,” Natasha says.

Why self-care is important

“If you’re feeling more in control and empowered then you’re going to do a better job of caring for children and young people,” explains Dominique (Nicky) Weynen, a case work colleague of Natasha’s.

Being vigilant about health and wellbeing is essential for children and carers in the foster care system.

“We have check-ins with carers on a monthly basis to see how they’re going,” Nicky says.

“We try to empower them to say ‘no’ and teach them that this is part of self-care. Carers are also now doing online training, including learning how to manage challenging behaviours in children – and again, this is part of self-care.”

Meeting with other carers – either in person or on the telephone is also important. Having someone in a similar situation who can share your concerns can stop you feeling alone and possibly provide some strategies about what to do.

Making time for self-care is a way carers can encourage both their biological and foster children to develop the same positive habits. For children still in early childhood, learning self-care can build a solid foundation for good health and wellbeing as they get older.

For carers, self-care includes things like healthy eating, taking time out for relaxation, talking about your feelings, connecting with others and exercise – but it is possible to practice self-care with your whole family.

Self-care for families

Families can do things together which will help nurture all the members. It might be something as simple as a family bike ride or a picnic.  You might like to watch a movie together, have a games night, or maybe create some art together.

Here are some more simple ideas to self-care as a family:

  • Walk the dog together
  • Create a vegetable garden
  • Tell jokes
  • Take a hike
  • Remember to say I love you
  • Make a household budget together
  • Declutter or spring clean
  • Tai chi or yoga classes

More information

Talk to your case worker about self-care. You can also find out more about peer support groups near you. Telephone 1300 782 975 or visit www.myforeverfamily.org.au and check out the training and events calendar which lists upcoming support group meetings.

Or visit the Caring for Kids website

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019