Hello! I’m Matt.
I’m a Compass foster carer from the South. I’m father to 3 beautiful grown-up daughters, and married to my wonderful wife (and partner in crime) Dawn. As a foster carer myself, I know how challenging it can be to find time for yourself.
Fortunately, I have 29 years experience delivering Health and Fitness training from my time in the army. Following my retirement, I’m now looking to share my knowledge and expertise with my fellow foster carers.
I hope that the information and advice shared in these monthly blogs will encourage foster carers to make positive changes and, most importantly, take some time to care for themselves.
As carers, we spend the majority of our time thinking about and caring for others.
But, I wonder, how much time you take looking after yourself or reflecting on your own behaviours?
Our own health and wellbeing can easily be put to the back of our minds, especially when we can be prioritising childcare, family, work and household jobs – to name but a few.
Many sectors of industry are focusing on the Workplace Health & Wellbeing of their employees, but for us carers, our workplace is our family home.
It can sometimes be hard to distinguish where home life stops, and work begins; often, it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Time to ourselves is often spent sinking into the sofa and shutting off to the world for as long as we can manage.
I’m on a mission to change that, with my new monthly blog, ‘The Foster Carer Wellbeing Diary’. These monthly blogs will focus on health behaviours and wellbeing, looking at how the choices we can make can benefit not only our own lives, but the lives of our families and the young people we look after.
Each month I will explore a new topic, sharing my experiences and knowledge along with sign posting you to resources you can access to support positive changes.
A Little About Me
Before all that, though, I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself and hopefully give you an understanding of why I am writing these blogs.
My name is Matt. I am a 46 year old father to 3 beautiful grown-up daughters, and I am married to my wife (and long term partner in crime) Dawn. Just like you, we are foster carers, who are continually working to find some balance in this non-stop rollercoaster of life.
Having recently retired after 29 years in the Army, this is the first time in my adult life that I have complete freedom of choice and can truly make the choices in life that I want and importantly when I want.
For the past 25 years I have been fortunate enough to deliver Health & Fitness support to soldiers in many different capacities, from training soldiers for overseas operations, to mentoring future leaders at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
Throughout my last 6 years in the army, I was given the privilege of running health & wellbeing advisor training courses, alongside organising many other health training and campaigns. A personal highlight for me was my being invited to deliver a presentation at the International Congress of Physical Performance in Quebec, Canada!
Overall, it has certainly been a journey of challenges and learning. In later blogs, I hope to reflect more on some of my own challenges and explain how I have found balance as a foster carer.
What Will We Cover?
Over the years I have helped more than 2,000 service personnel, countless friends, and family members with their individual journeys.
I know that when it comes to health and wellbeing, there are so many sources of information that at times, it can feel like too much to take in. That, and, depending on where you are looking, there are some very contradictory opinions on what can or can’t work for you.
I am passionate about helping others and hope that you not only find these blogs interesting and informative, but also easy to follow for your own journey. Through these blogs, I hope to pass on many of the tips and education I have picked up over my career.
Some of the topics we will look at together include:
- Diet Facts and myths
- The benefits of being physically active
- Building our own resilience and coping mechanisms
- Smoking and Alcohol
- Understanding our own Health Behaviours
- Finding balance in life
- Weight Management
- Benefits of Sleep & Good Routine
Setting Yourself Up for Success with Honesty
When it comes to health and wellbeing, if I told you there is one model that fits all, I would be lying. As individuals, we are all different – facing our own challenges and barriers to making positive choices in life.
One of the most important parts of self-care is self-reflection and being honest with ourselves about where we are in life today. Who are you? What is important to you? What do you need? Do you accept yourself and, most importantly, are you being honest with your answers? Self-efficacy, taking personal responsibility and owning who we are can be a very difficult thing to do.
The person we like to show others isn’t always the person we see ourselves as. I call this the “Facebook version” of ourselves – the positives often hiding the negatives, the pictures of the good times that are often only snapshots of our days, sometimes filtered or edited.
So, my first question to you all, is “Who are You?”. When you look in the mirror, who do you truly see? Ask yourselves: do I really see me in the mirror, and what does that mean? When I personally look in the mirror and start any journey of self-exploration or change, I ask this question to myself.
Hopefully this first blog has caught your attention, I look forward to sharing with you all again next month.
If you enjoyed Matt Arlow’s foster carer health and wellbeing blog, be sure to check the ‘blog’ tag section on the Infocentre for more!