“In the event of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.”
As a parent, you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you help your children, spouse, and everyone else who wants your help. You are no good to anyone, including yourself, if you drain your energy, your oxygen, and your focus to zero.
I know it’s difficult to prioritize yourself when there are little people who need and want you every minute. Prioritizing yourself doesn’t mean neglecting them. It means helping your children to learn patience in those few moments it takes to put on your oxygen mask.
Your oxygen mask might be as simple as getting yourself a drink of water before the next activity or taking a shower even when your toddler tells you, “NO!” It might take more time, like doing yoga while your child waits. Whatever it is, your child learns self control gradually in those moments.
Lessons you are teaching your children will stay with them. They know you are a person with needs as well. (Yes, that sounds strange, but it does take children a while to realize this about their parents.) Also, they will learn that they need to take care of themselves before they help others so they don’t drain themselves.
Have you read “The Giving Tree”? I remember it from my childhood, and I picked it up to consider buying it for my children’s library. I read it again in the store. I couldn’t believe what I read. The lesson was to give everything you have without taking care of your own needs. The tree (who I interpreted as a mother) gave itself in pieces for the boy, who didn’t ever bother to take care of the tree or even to thank the tree. Some people interpret this book environmentally as an example of how not to sustain the earth. Either way, I don’t want to plant the seed of the idea in my children’s minds that they are to take and take from others without regard for others’ needs. And, no, I didn’t buy the book.
Your family is—or can be—a sustainable system. You need to be functional to make that system work, and the system works even better when you are not just functional but happy. Your happiness matters to everyone in your family, whether they realize it or not.
Show your children that you care about yourself. You are teaching them valuable lessons. You are teaching them that you have needs. They will develop empathy as they recognize others’ needs. You are also teaching them that each person needs to address their own needs. You are teaching them to put their own oxygen masks on first.
Don’t hesitate. Take care of yourself. You’ll be better able to help others when you do.
This month, we are focusing on self care. Come into the bynature.ca store for a few self care surprises.