Monday, July 17, 2017

Taking Care of Mama: The Oxygen Mask Mentality

Although I am by no means an expert at this whole mom gig, within the last five months I've started to find the beginnings of my mama groove. I'm realizing how I want to approach the transition from my pre-kiddo life into this more full, less selfish phase. Obviously I've got a LONG ways to go when it comes to parenting and handling numerous situations that will one day come up with our child, and I don't claim to have all of the answers. But it's been fun to talk to women in their pre-kids stage about the things I've realized so far, including the need for what I like to call "the oxygen mask mentality".
If you're a frequent flyer, you remember the little safety speech they give at the beginning of each flight: you know, the one you don't pay much attention to. During this speech, they always talk about how the oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling if the cabin loses air pressure. And if you watch closely after that, what do they do next? Walk to each parent and tell them to be sure to put on their own mask before they start securing one on their child's face. The point behind this is simple: if you can't breathe, you're going to pass out before you can help your child. If you don't take a second to save yourself, then you won't be able to save your kids. And I would argue that this same mentality can be very important when it comes to parenting.

I'm not saying to constantly put yourself first as a parent. Of course not. But I am saying that I have to adopt this mentality every now and then to ensure that I can be the best mom I can to our son. That if I don't take some time for myself every now and then, to stop and figuratively put my oxygen mask on, then I'm not going to be able to be the happy, fun-loving, engaged mama that I want to be.

So what does this look like? Well for me, it looks like taking time nearly every day to go work out. Sure, it takes a lot more effort to find this time than it used to, and someone has to watch Eli while I do it, but it's worth it to me. This mama gets to de-stress, unwind, and get the blood flowing a little bit. And I'm not willing to give that up because it's important to me, good for me, and good for my parenting. Because it gives me a little break and leaves me refreshed and ready to come back to my baby and love the heck out of him.


Or other times, maybe it means reaching out to a loving husband, a supportive family, or fabulous friends, and just being real about needing a little break. Even if it's grabbing coffee and reading a book for 30 minutes, getting your nails done, or taking a longer day away to run errands or clean, taking a break from our babies doesn't make us bad parents. It makes us better. It helps us remember ourselves, our hobbies, our talents, our marriages, and our ability to have adult interaction.

The oxygen mask mentality expands beyond just purposeful "me time" to also include intentional date time. I truly believe that our children benefit the most when their parents are committed to keeping their marriage healthy and happy. This requires intentional effort to spend time together one on one and to remember where this all started: with the two of us. (Check out Why I'm Still Dating My Husband for more ideas on how you can date your spouse). Devoting time to our spouses doesn't make us bad parents: again, it makes us better.

Having a baby doesn't mean that you have to lose yourself completely. In fact, I would argue that you will lose yourself if you forget to make yourself a priority every now and then. Take a break. Work out. Pamper Mama a bit. Take care of your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Date your spouse. Be okay with letting someone watch your baby for a while, and then come back to them and be the best mom that you can. I know it can be hard, and can take some planning and extra effort, but trust me: you're worth it. Your babies are worth it. That "oxygen" leaves you refreshed and ready to pour into your sweet family with a fresh outlook, more patience, and a whole lot of love. So put your mask on first, Mama. And then go love those kiddos. You'll be glad you did, and so will they.

Currently,
Kelsie

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3 comments:

  1. Such a true analogy! You have to make sure you're in your best condition so that you're the best you can be for your kiddos.

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  2. I just love everything about this. Someone at church yesterday mentioned the tired cliche, "If mom isn't happy, no one is happy," and while I'd call that an oversimplification, it's true that we can't be what we need to be for everyone without caring for ourselves, too.

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  3. You are absolutely correct that having a child is not easy. It is a big responsibility especially when you have to do lot of things with your child care.

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