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A typical foster parent morning starts somewhere around the time you just fall back to sleep. Someone had a nightmare. You got up. Someone felt sick. You got up. Someone heard something outside. You got up. You are the primary caretaker and it's your job. You fix, what you think is a wonderful breakfast and no one likes it. They liked it yesterday, but the don't like it today. Feeling guilty for sending your kids to school hungry, you walk them to the bus stop. The bus driver, seeing you standing with the kids, decides to let you know what has been going on during the bus rides to and from school. When she is finished explaining that your children are the worst she has seen in 15 years, and two of them can no longer ride the bus after today, you return home. After cleaning the kitchen, bathroom and three bedrooms, you start dinner and the phone rings. It's the school. The high school. One of your kids has just blown out of class and is walking down the highway. You call the therapist, social worker, local sheriff and then jump in the car to go find the almost missing kid. After a 15 minute search you see her, back pack askew, head down, walking away from everything she can't deal with. You follow her for 10 minutes and she finally agrees to get in the car, but not to return home. Another hour will pass before you reach an agreement. This is the 5th broken agreement you've had with her and it's only been 2 weeks. When you finally return home, it's time for the little ones to get home. Snacks, homework, and finally dinner, baths, taking extra attention because someone notoriously will "forget" to brush, wash with soap, put on clean underwear and refuse to hang up their towel. Bedtime stories, drinks, checking windows and closets for monsters, prayers and finally everyone is asleep. It's 9:00 p.m. Your husband has fallen asleep in front of the TV with a cold dinner on a tray. You haven't even thought of food since everyone refused to eat breakfast. You collapse in a chair and close your eyes, just for a minute and you hear: "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!"

This is a life out of your control and headed for a meltdown!

Taking time for yourself, regardless of the crisis, is a must! You have to be rested, fed, and in control before you can do anything to help anyone. You are important. You are the mother. You are the one who is always there picking up the broken pieces and putting the puzzle back together. Take time out for yourself every day. Read a book. Read a chapter of a book. Read a paragraph. Regardless of how short of a time you have, take it. Take a bubble bath. Lock the door. Refuse to answer questions through the door. Life will go on without you while you take your bath. Teach your children that taking care of you is taking care of them. In order for you to continue to be a good mother, you have to have some time for yourself. A "mother time out". By taking the time you need away from parenting, you will teach your children compassion and consideration for others. You will be teaching them that someone else is important besides themselves and that everyone needs space. They will learn that even in your brief absence, you still love them and haven't abandoned them. Everyone needs a hug, even you!

Credits: Sharon Davis

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