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Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First: A Gentle Reminder to Parents

By: Misty Boucher

We have all listened to airline attendants review the pre-flight safety instructions. One of the things they tell you is that in the case of a change in cabin pressure, be sure to place the resulting oxygen mask over your own face first before assisting anyone else, even your own children. As the end of the school year falls upon us, I think it’s a good reminder for all parents to prioritize their well-being by practicing self-care. School activities, spring sports and balancing work with parenting can feel overwhelming and lead to parental fatigue. The concept of putting on an oxygen mask is not just for airline travel, it can be applied to everyday life. And while it might sound cliche, putting your oxygen mask first means prioritizing your own mental, physical and emotional health.

Self-care can look different from person to person, so it’s important to find what works for you! Here are three things that I consider important when practicing self-care:

1. Plan ahead.

Planning can feel overwhelming and stressful. The upside is it can be an opportunity to build self-care into your schedule. I like to walk with my best friend several times a week, so I schedule it in my calendar. It holds me accountable and I am less likely to cancel if I know she is counting on me. Scheduling a massage, manicure, bike ride or whatever you consider to be self-care, can be one way to achieve much-needed downtime.

2. Basics matter.

Exercising, eating healthy, and getting plenty of sleep seem like no-brainers. I would argue they are often put aside first when life gets busy. These basics are essential to our mental health and our overall well-being. Prioritizing your health is important and necessary!

3. Know your limits.

Saying “yes” to everything is exhausting and often leads to parents feeling completely burnt out. It’s important that we recognize when we have reached our maximum capacity and allow for a period of rest and rejuvenation. Sometimes that means saying “no” to our children, family, co-workers or friends (it’s ok!).

For me, navigating the end of the school year is stressful and prioritizing “me” can be tricky. As parents, it can feel self-serving to spend time away from our family and children. I also know that when I do practice self-care I find I am better equipped to handle the demands of parenting. So, as you move through the busy months ahead, it’s important to think about taking time to focus on you. By taking care of your own physical and emotional health, in other words, firmly strapping your oxygen mask on first, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges of parenthood and supporting your kiddos.


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