“If the cabin loses pressure, a mask will fall from the ceiling…place your mask over your mouth first and then you can help your child next to you.”
If you’ve ever flown, you’ve heard this whole explanation. At first it’s sounds inconsiderate, selfish, and maybe even backwards. “Take care of my own need before taking care of my child’s?” Who would ever contemplate such a selfish act?
But the reasoning is perfectly logical: if you’re not breathing you won’t be able to help your child secure their mask in order to begin breathing.
I think this is a perfect analogy for motherhood. As mothers, it’s considered admirable to be self-sacrificing, always seeing to the needs of your children before caring for your own. Just like the priority of the oxygen mask, what I am about to say may sound selfish at first, but bear with me.
Neglect is a word you never want to be heard associated with parenting. It brings to mind the thought of a child being left alone, unloved, and without the proper care. But friend, I want you to consider something for a moment…have you ever stopped to think that maybe you’ve been neglecting yourself? Maybe the oxygen mask of life has dropped from the ceiling and you have been busy working to secure your children’s mask. Just like any good mom, you made sure it’s secure, your child is comfortable, and the oxygen is flowing. But while you’ve been busy caring for their well-being, you’re gasping for air.
The time you once spent on yourself has been overrun by children’s activities. You’ve stopped going to the gym because you don’t have time. And your nutritional philosophy has become “eat whatever you can whenever you have time.” Depending on the age of your child, you’re either up to your elbows in dirty diapers or maybe overbooked with soccer practice and after school activities. I am in no way saying that your child’s well being and interests aren’t important. But if you and I are to be the best moms we can possibly be, we cannot neglect our own health, well-being, and sanity.
IF YOU’RE NOT DOING WELL, YOUR CHILD ISN’T DOING WELL:
You are much more affective if you’re breathing. I see so many mothers going through life gasping for air. Sure, on the outside you may seem to have it all together. You maintain a crammed schedule full of your children’s activities, making sure everyone is fed, where they need to be, and happy. But internally you’re just a couple of breaths away from a breakdown.
You’ve heard the saying, “If momma aint happy, aint nobody happy.” I believe the saying is often associated with a wrong interpretation. This doesn’t mean that your mood should dictate the state of the home, but rather if you’re doing well then you’re able to much more affectively care for the needs of your children.
Rather than going through life gasping for air, it’s time you begin placing priority on yourself.
You may need to write this down and stick it on a mirror because this doesn’t come natural foremost moms. But there is nothing wrong with me-time. You need time alone.
CARING FOR YOURSELF:
You’ve probably been so programmed to allow your children’s time to consume anytime you would have otherwise spent on yourself. Me-time is not sipping a cup of coffee with your toddler hanging on your arm. Me-time is not walking through the mall with your baby in the stroller. Me-time is not sitting on the bleachers watching your child’s soccer game.
So what is accurately defined me-time?
Well, it may look different for you than it does for me. Me-time may be reading a good book during nap time and allowing yourself to COMPLETELY forget about the mess around you. Me-time could be getting a babysitter and going to the mall ALONE. Me-time could be uncorking that bottle of wine after the kids go to sleep and binge watching Netflix GUILT-FREE. Or maybe your me-time is going for a long run on Saturday while dad stays at home with the kiddos.
I know this may be a difficult concept to wrap your mind around at first. But just like the flight attendant reminding you that unless you secure your oxygen mask first, you won’t be able to care for the needs of your children if you don’t.
Remind yourself next time you’re tempted to neglect your personal time: your children’s well-being depends on it.
And next time you feel guilty for leaving the laundry until the next day just so you can start that book you’ve been wanting to read: DON’T. Allow yourself to enjoy that book completely guilt free. The laundry won’t go anywhere. And I bet that once you’ve allowed yourself to be refreshed and rejuvenated by taking a break from your duties, you’ll be much more prepared to care for the needs of your little one.
So, let me ask you….
What me-time activity do you need to do this week? Share your idea below. Maybe there’s another mom out there that could benefit from hearing how you cared for yourself.
Kara and her husband, Noah, live in Iowa with their two little girls, London and Iylee. She is the founder and nutrition specialist of Life Well Lived. Kara runs bootcamps that teach women how to lose fat, eat the right foods for their body, and make clean eating a lifestyle that lasts. Kara enjoys cooking, reading, traveling, and playing Barbies with her two little girls.