*Warning!* This is something I am very passionate about.
Respite is just a fancy, DHS term for a break. It’s when someone else (crazy enough to say yes) takes care of your kids for you, for an extended amount of time. This may be a couple hours on a Saturday or possibly an evening away, or every so often it’s an overnight or once in a blue moon it’s several overnights together at once. Regardless of how long it is, it is VITAL. Anytime I talk with a fellow foster parent who is struggling, whether it’s in their marriage, with a certain kid, with themselves, really any struggle, my first question is “when did you last have a break?” 9+ times out of 10 they can’t remember the last time they had a break.
In order for me to be the healthiest, happiest, most Jesus-like version of myself that I can be, I need to be recharged. This recharge looks different for everyone… But for us, it looks like (at least) monthly date nights, like my husband kicking me out of the house for an evening at least every other week, it looks like me dropping the littles off at the babysitters at least once a month so I have the time the bigs are at school all to myself, it’s waking up early to have time to read my bible and pray and have a cup of coffee before the day gets going, like play dates on Saturdays, like overnights when we can… And today? It looks like going away with the love of my life for 4 days of much needed rest, relaxation, recharging, and time to just be a married couple.
You CAN’T and SHOULDN’T do it all, 100% of the time. You need a break. You need to carve out what that looks like for you. You need to model for your kids that it is important take that time. You need to be all of who God made you to be, and that requires time to figure that out. So… Swallow your pride. Realize that life will go on without you. And get a babysitter. Right now.
Life is hard. Being married is hard. Parenting is hard. Fostering is hard. Owning a home is hard. Life is hard. However, all those things are even more amazing than they are hard. But it is also COMPLETLY okay to recognize that it’s hard. It is completely okay to have a crappy day.
That was yesterday for me.
I was away at a retreat last weekend. It was an amazing break away from the daily grind. A chance to be away from the kids, a chance to recharge. It was a chance to hear other ladies stories, to laugh and to cry. And it was exhausting. I love hearing people’s stories, but I get so wrapped up in them that it takes me a bit to decompress. We hardly slept the whole weekend, and in general I came home way more tired than when I left. Yesterday was my decompress day. So the kids decided to push… and push… and push… (and not nap). The day I was so looking forward to all weekend, a chance to hug my girls, to soak them up, to just play, turned into a day where I was counting down to bed time. AND THAT’S OKAY.
Every day is not like that. I have really awesome days. But I have to work at it to have those awesome days. I had to make the choice yesterday that I was going to have a great day today. I made the choice yesterday to walk to the grocery store to get fresh veggies so I could start my day off right today. I made the choice to go to bed early yesterday because I knew we would be up multiple times throughout the night with the baby. I made the choice to say yes to a play date at the park this morning so that I would get out of the house and enjoy the sunshine and conversation with a friend. But that’s just it… they are all choices.
I could choose to let the toughness of fostering get to me and I could give up. But instead, I will make the choice to prepare as best as I can for tomorrow, and the next day and the one after that.
You have a choice… what are you going to do?