You know when you’re flying and you’re told to put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you?
Well, this reminder is just as important when we’re on the ground. We cannot be helpful to others unless we first are taking care of ourselves. As parents this can be especially difficult. We love our children and strive to care for them to the best of our abilities. There is a misconception that to do so we have to put their needs first on the list. However, when we ignore our own needs we are usually not our best selves. We end up operating at 50%- trying to give what we don’t have to offer.
I talk a lot about the HALTs in regards to kiddos, but this rule of thumb applies to the grown-ups too! When we are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired we aren't able to be the parents, partners, friends, or employees we intend to be.
Do you find yourself daydreaming about being somewhere else or doing something different? Do you find yourself yelling at your children out of frustration? Snapping at your partner? Do you feel preoccupied or like you are being pulled a thousand different directions?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it is time for some self-care!
So what does this mean in practice? First, identify what your needs are. How much sleep do you need? How often and what types of foods do you need to eat to nourish your body? What level of physical activity do you need? How often do you need to spend time alone? How often do you need to spend time with others? Once you’ve identified the things that you need to feel balanced and content, work on putting them into action. Sometimes this requires asking for help from others. Build a network of support people that you can rely on. And remember not everyone can be everything for you. You may have some people in your life that are great at offering reassurance while others are super helpful at taking a few things off of your to do list. If you can piece together a network of helping partners, family, and friends you don’t have to go at it alone. Ask someone to take the kids for an afternoon so you can do something nice for yourself. Instead of cleaning up the kitchen while your kiddo is taking a nap, read something for pleasure.
In our busy lives it can feel irresponsible or like a waste of time to do something for ourselves, but I am telling you it is worth it. When we are taking care of ourselves we are more compassionate partners, patient parents, productive employees, and most importantly happy! So I challenge each and every one of you to prioritize yourselves and see what happens. My guess is that you will feel energized in other areas of your life and better equipped to cope with what life throws your way each day.