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8 ways to survive menopause as a foster parent

Menopause can be a challenging time for foster parents, but with the right support, you can manage your symptoms while still providing the very best care.

October 3 2023 - 8 min read

If you’re a foster parent, menopause can be an especially challenging time, but with the right support, you can manage your symptoms while still providing the very best care to your child. 

If you’re a foster parent going through menopause, you might be feeling quite isolated right now and struggling to find the right support for your unique situation. Not everybody understands the challenges foster parents go through on a day-to-day basis, let alone combined with the symptoms of menopause. 

In this article, we will discuss the changes that occur during menopause, how it can affect women and the people in their lives, and ways that foster parents going through menopause can manage their symptoms while still providing the necessary care for their children.

Ways To Survive Menopause As A Foster Parent

What is menopause? 

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. During menopause, a woman's body goes through significant changes, which can lead to a range of symptoms, both physical and emotional.

It occurs when the ovaries stop producing eggs and is defined as the cessation of menstruation for a period of 12 months or more.

It’s a normal and natural part of ageing, normally occurring between the ages of 45 and 55, however, it can sometimes happen sooner.

Menopause is a typical part of every woman’s life cycle, and also affects non-binary people and trans folk who were assigned female at birth.

Symptoms of menopause

Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. During this time, a woman's body undergoes significant changes, which can affect various systems and functions.

Interestingly, many foster parents fall into this age bracket, with the largest group (41%) being in their 50s, according to government findings. This time can be a disruptive transition both for women and the people in their lives, with changing identity, habits, relationships as well as bodies.

Some of the common symptoms of menopause include:

  • Anger and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Low mood or depression
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Forgetfulness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor concentration (brain fog)
  • Hot flushes and night sweats

Menopause symptoms can impact a woman's day-to-day life and their emotional well-being. For example:

  • Hot flushes can be uncomfortable and embarrassing and can disrupt daily activities.
  • Sleep disturbances can lead to fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating, which can impact work and relationships.
  • Intense mood changes, anxiety, and depression can have a significant impact on a woman's emotional well-being and can affect her ability to cope with stress and challenges.

Menopause not only affects women but can also impact some transgender men, non-binary people, and intersex people too.

Challenges for foster parents 

Physical symptoms

Menopause can bring about a range of physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and fatigue. These symptoms can be unpredictable and disruptive, making it challenging to maintain a consistent caregiving routine.

Emotional fluctuations

Menopause is often accompanied by mood swings, irritability, and feelings of sadness or anxiety. Dealing with the emotional roller coaster can make it difficult for foster parents to remain patient and emotionally stable while providing support and care to vulnerable children.

Sleep disturbances

Many women going through menopause experience sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Foster parents who are sleep-deprived may find it challenging to have the energy and focus needed to care for children with complex emotional needs.

Cognitive changes

Some women going through menopause may experience cognitive changes, such as memory lapses or difficulty concentrating. This can affect a foster parent's ability to manage multiple tasks and responsibilities effectively.

Hormonal fluctuations

The hormonal fluctuations that occur during menopause can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions or trigger new ones, such as depression or anxiety. Coping with these mental health challenges while taking on the responsibilities of foster parenting can be overwhelming.

Physical limitations

Menopause can sometimes lead to physical changes, such as joint pain or decreased energy levels. These limitations may affect a foster parent's ability to engage in physically demanding activities with the children in their care.

Managing personal and professional life

Balancing the demands of fostering children with the challenges of menopause can be complex. Foster parents may need to attend court hearings, medical appointments, and therapy sessions for the children, which can be physically and emotionally draining during menopause.

Coping with trauma triggers

Children in care often come from traumatic backgrounds, and their experiences may trigger emotional responses in foster parents. The heightened emotional sensitivity during menopause can make it more challenging for foster parents to manage their own emotions while supporting children dealing with trauma.

Navigating hormonal treatments

Some foster parents may choose to pursue hormonal treatments or medications to alleviate menopausal symptoms. However, these treatments may have side effects or require adjustments in caregiving routines.

managing menopause symptoms as a foster parent

Navigating menopause as a foster parent

The demands of caring for vulnerable children can sometimes be physically and emotionally exhausting. This can feel even more of a challenge if you're going through menopause, and trying to manage your symptoms too.

What’s important to remember is that menopause affects everybody differently, and so the solutions will be different too.

However, in all cases, it’s about working together with your family, fostering provider and wider support system to find ways that work best for you and your young person.

You won’t always get it right either, and that’s okay.

There’s no such thing as perfect, but we can learn from our mistakes and reflect on our actions to make positive changes in the future. For example, if you find yourself snapping at your young person, it’s the actions you take after that will have the biggest impact.

Recognising your mistake, apologising and repairing ruptures can teach them about accountability and handling situations in a mature and honest way. Despite the rocky and turbulent nature of menopause, there are a lot of lessons you can learn from it, including finding out just how resilient you actually are.

Transferring Fostering Agency

Download our transfer guide

We can fast-track your assessment in 12 weeks, so you can enjoy the benefits of our supportive community much sooner than you might think.

Download our transfer fostering agency guide to learn more about the process and benefits of working with ISP.


8 ways to manage menopause as a foster parent 

While we’re not able to offer medical advice, we can provide some strategies that can help you cope with your symptoms while still fulfilling your carer responsibilities.

1) Allow yourself self-care

One of the most important things that foster parents going through menopause can do is focus on their own self-care. This means taking time for yourself to rest and recharge, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise.

It might not always be possible to entirely prioritise your own self-care when you’re caring for a vulnerable young person, so it’s about being opportunistic with your time and leaning on your support system for small moments to yourself.

If you look after yourself, and the people around you are looking after you too, you’ll be in a better position to care for your young person.

2) Seek medical support

When you begin to notice the symptoms of menopause, such as frequent hot flushes, mood swings, or trouble sleeping, you should go to your GP in the first instance. Your doctor may be able to recommend medications or other treatments that can help to alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

It is important to be open and honest with your doctor about your symptoms so that they can make an informed recommendation about what treatment to offer.

3) Talk to your supervising social worker (SSW)

Your SSW should be understanding and aware of the symptoms that arise when going through menopause, and how this could potentially impact how you care for a child. Make sure to communicate what you’re going through so they can work with you and point you in the right direction for support.

Your spouse, partner and/or children should also feel like they can reach out to your fostering provider for support if their role in the foster family is also being impacted. 

4) Develop a support network

Fostering children can be isolating at times, especially if you are going through menopause and experiencing mood swings or other symptoms that make it hard to connect with others.

Developing a support network of other foster parents or friends and family members who understand your situation and are there for you when you need them will be invaluable.

You can share your experiences with them, seek advice, and receive emotional support, as well as lean on them for practical support too. For example, if you’ve had a bad night’s sleep and are completely fatigued, you may need to ask a family member to do the school run, pick up shopping or help with household chores while you try to rest.

At ISP, we offer a full, wrap-around support package for foster parents, so we’re here for you at the drop of a hat. From social workers and advisory teachers to specialist therapists, you’ll always have access to a large team of professionals who are on hand to help you whenever you need it. 

5) Practice stress-reducing activities

Stress is a common trigger for menopausal symptoms, so you could try to incorporate some stress-reducing activities into your daily or weekly schedule, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.

These activities can help to calm your mind and reduce your overall stress level, which can in turn help to alleviate your symptoms. 

6) Be open and honest with the children in your care

It’s important to be honest with the young people you care for about your menopause symptoms. This can help them to understand why you may be feeling irritable or experiencing mood swings, and can also help to build trust and rapport with them.

Seeing you being open about something quite vulnerable could inspire them to also be open about what’s going on for them too. It’s also an opportunity to teach them about menopause and help reduce the stigma that surrounds this natural part of life. 

7) Adjust your expectations

As a foster parent going through menopause, it is important to adjust your expectations and be realistic about what you can and cannot do. It’s okay to ask for help or support from other foster parents, social workers, or family members if you need it.

Remember that it’s better to ask for help than to try to do everything on your own and risk burnout or exhaustion. 

8) Take respite

During this time of significant change, it’s so important to take breaks and allow yourself time to rest and recharge. Taking breaks can help to reduce stress and prevent burnout, which can in turn help you to provide better care for your children.

At ISP, we offer an extremely generous 22 nights of paid short break care a year. This gives our foster parents the chance to take a break from their carer duties while their young person is safely cared for by another ISP foster family.

If you’re going through menopause, this could prove invaluable and allow you prioritise your own health, which is what is best for the long-term.

Not receiving the support you deserve?

If you’re going through menopause, just remember that you are not alone, and there are resources and support available to help you through this transition.

Should you not feel supported by your fostering provider, whether that’s your local authority or another independent fostering agency, you might want to consider transferring fostering agency.

Please get in touch to talk to us in full confidentiality about the work we do at ISP, what we offer in the way of foster parent support services and what’s involved when you transfer with a child in your care. Or, download our free guide to transferring for all the information you need to know.