This phrase originated years ago in reference to airplane travel. The idea was that if you take care of yourself first, you are better able to help your children in the event of an emergency. It makes total sense really. And this concept should be translated to all aspects of parenting.
According to Real Simple magazine-“Parents who deprive themselves of rest, food, and fun for the sake of their kids do no one a favor.” So I ask myself, why do I feel guilty when I make plans? Going to book group, getting a pedicure, or meeting a friend for coffee almost always makes me pause. Why? These are some of the activities that are MY oxygen mask.
I am a giver. I come from a long line of givers-my mother and grandmother always did the cooking, cleaning, and took care of the families needs. Yet, when I dig in my memories, I cannot remember what they did for themselves. I don’t mean to paint the picture of
these women being martyrs. I just can’t picture them getting a lot of rest or relaxation. And my father worked long hours so my mother could stay at home with us. His rest was playing with my brother and I. Perhaps it’s just my poor memory, but when I think about the activities that gave my own parents oxygen very few come to mind.
Perhaps the notion of taking care of yourself comes more from our fast paced society. We are plugged it most of the time. We are multitasking at an alarming rate. So our need to take better care of ourselves as parents is greater. Do we have more responsibilities than generations past? Do mothers and fathers of today feel more depleted? I don’t know the answers.
As I return for a restful vacation with my family, I am ready to tackle the life we temporarily left behind. I will get the lunches packed, the laundry done, and read several hundred emails at work. I will pause to plan the moments when I will take a deep breath and care for me. I will put on my oxygen mask first and then the rest will simply fall into place. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.
How do you put on your oxygen mask first?