‘If you are a parent can you please put on your oxygen mask first before putting a mask on your child’ the flight attendant says that on the plane. I think ‘that can’t be right? Can it?’ then I think well if I am not breathing then, er…then yes it is completely right, this piece of information is about self care. As parents we need to look after ourselves first otherwise how can we look after our children?
This oxygen mask idea has followed me around for years as an image for parenting. Especially in the early years when I was so exhausted and tired and my boobs felt like they had been stolen by small people. The nights when I had changed one nappy too many…The times when I wanted to write in huge words above my bed A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP, to remind myself of the possibility because I didn’t believe it existed. I felt I had been lied to as nobody had told me that that was how the early years mothering would be. I know not every mother’s experience is the same but our children were not good sleepers, they seemed like they were wired to the moon.
The beauty of that crazy early experience, in looking back, is the way my husband and I shared the child raising, because we had to, we had three under the age of three. It was exhausting but I look back at that craziness and remember it in a surreal kind of way, as if I was living in another dimension to everyone else. There is a fondness in reminiscing. Though at the time it was exhausting.
Right now my son is shouting at full blast to his friend on his computer, my husband is talking quite loudly on a business call, my girls are listening to music and I am trying to work. I am going to shut the door.
Our house is always loud and full and I love it but I need to look after myself, within the beautiful chaos of having our kids at home all the time. As an (unschooling, homeschooling or not) mother I need to put my oxygen mask first, to remember my own self care. I know this but do I remember it? No.
This list is to remind me of how I can be better, as well as to whisper to the memory of who you essentially are.
The woman before the mother. Or the man before the father.
Look after yourself. Create a boundary around your own time. This is something I have had to work at.
Just move, do something, it feels so good to get oxygen flowing through your blood. I wrote a piece here about that. And yesterday I did this and laughed at the fact that it I am not that good at hip hop.
Just eat well, shop well, and look after yourself.
I write about this here, when looking after everyone else’s needs I have been sometimes forgetting myself. Also funds can run low so when they do, I enjoy what I do have. I have learnt to really enjoy the simplest of things and to accept that I really don’t need much, it is not the stuff that makes me happy, it is the experiences. Joshua Becker writes about this here.
Find your tribe. Beth Berry writes so beautifully about this here. This to me is so important, as a Mum, a Dad, a human person on this planet I find it so important to connect up with others. I write about this here.
I gave that up a long time ago! But it is easy to get caught up in getting the whole parenting thing right. I talk about this here.
It really doesn’t matter what other people think. Does it? I don’t mind what other people think, I am over it, what is important is that inner voice with myself, the one that reminds me I am doing OK, when the night time gremlins comes and dance at the end of my bed and remind me of all the things I have not done. There are also great podcasts to listen to in the wee hours if you can’t sleep. Especially now as there is a lot going on!. Or you can listen to Theta Waves, click here if you want to know more about it.
I can sit back and enjoy the parenting ride knowing that my ‘oxygen mask’ of thoughts can drop down at any given time and remind me to look after myself before anyone else. That isn’t what I was taught to do, I was subconsciously scripted as a woman to put everyone and everything else first. Self care wasn’t a thing. I know this by the way I watched women in my family running around after everyone else.
Something deep shifted for me when my Mum left our family when I was younger. Perhaps that was her oxygen mask dropping down, her warning bell, her breathing space to be who she was before she was a mother. As an adult I now understand it, who was modelling self care for her when she was younger?
I am doing my best to lead by example and teach my girls and my son to look after themselves first. To remind them about self care. In doing this, in compassionately caring for ourselves as women first and then others maybe we can gently and subtly change the course of history, perhaps it really is that simple. We can then be the shining lights for the future generations of women who can care for themselves without even questioning whether or not they should put themselves first.
I think on lots of levels this is true for men too but Anthony needs to write about that not me, as he has understanding from the inside around this and I don’t.
And on a parting note, here is a beautiful quote that I have just found. “An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.”
‘Jump, Fall, Fly from schooling to homeschooling to unschooling’ is now available in the UK here
Or in the US here
Or as an e book here
The illustrations come from a book that I have written called The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women
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