Put Your Own Mask on First

airline mask instructions

I mentioned in my last post that I was visiting my grandmother. As anyone who’s flown knows, when they go through the emergency instructions, one thing they say is if you’re traveling with a child and the oxygen masks drop down, put your own mask on first, then assist the child.

I was twenty-one before I ever stepped foot on a plane, and this instruction made absolutely no sense to me. Aren’t the child’s needs supposed to come first? They need air to live. It’s the parent’s job to provide the necessities for survival. Duh! The child’s mask goes on first. The airline is wrong. And that’s what I thought for several years.

Even after my first child was born, I was still of the thought that the child’s needs always come before the parent. No way am I going to eat unless my children are first taken care of. That’s parenting 101.

But somewhere in the mix—I can’t remember where—but I’m pretty sure it was after my youngest was born, the airlines’ instructions to put your own mask on first finally clicked. Yes the child needs oxygen to breathe, but so do you. If you pass out due to lack of air from the mask, neither you nor the child can breathe. It basically dooms you both. Talk about that being a hard pill to swallow.

But this goes beyond the airlines. Remember when I said I’m not going to eat until my children have food? For the most part, that’s still true, but there are some exceptions. If I can feel my body needing something, like, now, yeah, I’m getting something to eat. It’s that mentality shift that sometimes the caregiver needs to go first so they are equipped to help the other person.

It’s the importance of self-care. And I gotta tell you, I needed it in my post-grandma trip. All last week I was physically and mentally drained. November is busy enough without this little hiccup. Part of me wanted to ignore everything my body was telling me and plow on. In hindsight, I’m thankful I didn’t.

I took care of myself even though I knew it would put me even further behind. I put my own mask on first because if I didn’t give myself a lifeline, “behind” could very well turn into “Never.” So, next time you’re needing a little extra TLC, give yourself a break and dive into a little self-care.

‘Til next time!

Amélie

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