Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

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?

Published by

Joyeux Parenting

I am the proud mother of two beautiful children and have lived in Boston for most of my life. I have over twenty years of experience as a Child Development Specialist working with new families, pediatricians at Mass General Hospital, and Early Intervention. I have a wealth of knowledge and expertise regarding the challenges related to breastfeeding, behavior management, picky eaters, discipline, sleep, and development. I love being a wife and mother and sharing my experiences-the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am constantly learning about new evidence based information as it relates to parenting. Most importantly, I think it is crucial to recognize that we all make mistakes and learn from them. I am a firm believer that humor is essential as you navigate the world. Parenting should be full of joy and that is why I started my business Joyeux Parenting. Thank you for allowing me to share my experiences with you.

One thought on “Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First”

  1. I too just came back from vacation. And realized exactly what you are saying…..and I looked back over my own days as an active parent (now a grandparent), and realize we never ever slowed down. This trip no electronics worked so we were saved from ourselves. Teach children, especially girl children, how to take care of themselves and to enjoy what they love without guilt.


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