You know when you’re about to take off in an airplane, and the crew gives that safety speech that everyone half pays attention to? I usually find myself thinking , “How the heck is that tiny cushion going to help me if we crash landed in the ocean?!,” followed by weird, Tom Hanks-in-”Cast Away” trains of thought where I have my very own Wilson.
Sorry, got distracted.
During the speech, the crew demonstrates how to put on an oxygen mask and says: “If you’re travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first before helping others.”
“Secure your mask on first.”
I always thought this sounded selfish, especially as a child flying with my parents. Why wouldn’t they help me first? I was small and clearly needed help! Later on, I started thinking about how hard that must be to actually practice as a parent, to put your own need to breathe above your own child’s.
We’ve all heard it before, in order to take care of others we need to first take care of ourselves.
But, as a parent, what does that actually look like?
On a plane, it’s easy. You can’t help anyone else, let alone your family, if you’ve passed out from lack of oxygen.
But back at home? Well, it means making sure your mental, physical, and emotional needs are met so that you can be your best self. It means acknowledging that being a parent is really hard work, and that it’s okay to make mistakes. It means knowing that no one is perfect, and no one expects you to be perfect (and if they do, you have my permission to ignore them, and maybe give them a small kick in the shins.
Here are some ways to make sure you are taking care of yourself:
Build a support system. I promise you, you’re not alone. If you don’t live near family or friends, email them or talk on the phone. Then build an in-person network! Look for people who make your feel better, who make you laugh, and who will let you vent. Find trusted resources (ahm, like this handy website) you can turn to when you don’t have all of the answers.
Speak up when you need help. You are not responsible for always making yourself feel better or giving yourself the care you need. You ARE responsible for speaking up when you need a little boost and can’t do it by yourself. Tell your partner when you’ve had a bad day.hare how hard it is to be around a tiny, stubborn person who only wants to look at the same book over and over and over again. Or share how much you missed them while you were at work. The point is, share. Set up a weekly date to check in with one another.
Forgive yourself. We don’t always hear this, but taking care of kids is hard and not always fun. And you know what, that’s normal. You’re going to make mistakes.The trick is to let go of any guilt you have and move on. Maybe have a glass of wine, or bourbon.
We all need to learn to take good care of ourselves in all areas of our life so that we can then be a good support system for others. We want to show our children how important taking care of yourself is, and what better way to do that then to model good behavior and share how you take care of yourself with them.
Always put that mask on yourself first, then look for those who need help. That’s the best way for us to take care of ourselves and one another.
Interested in exploring ways to best take care of yourself and sharing that with your little ones? Want to set up a self-care event for parents and kiddos? Reach out here and let's work together!