Rest takes work - Put on your oxygen mask first
You’re on a plane getting ready to depart. The doors are locked, and everyone is seated with their seatbelts on. The usual speel over the speaker system is being recited from memory by the stewardess in charge. You know the one, “buckle your seat belts, store your tray tables”…
Then comes the bit that always garners a varied response, “Please watch the staff member in front of you as they give you a safety demonstration”. The experienced flyer ignores the message and continues doing what they are doing. The first time (or nervous) flyer grabs the instruction pamphlet and attentively follows along.
“… if there’s a drop in cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from above you. Place it over your nose and mouth, adjust the straps and breath. Always put on your own mask before helping others”.
What a great analogy for life! Especially for mothers who struggle to put themselves first. How did we get to this point? Most of us ignore our own well-being, health, and even happiness, for the sake of those we love. Instead, we run until we’re out of fuel and keep running on fumes until we break.
I’ve done that more than I care to admit, and my good intentions have backfired because my lack of oxygen mask has rendered me "unconscious". The breaking is what happens when we don’t put our mask on first. Now, we’re no good to anyone.
Last week, I asked our TK Instagram followers their thoughts on self-care. In particular, I asked them what suggestions they would give to other mothers. Here are a few suggestions that I loved:
Don’t lose yourself in motherhood. You are still a person with your own needs and it's not bad to take time.
Even the smallest thing will give you a boost.
… Allow more patience for your kid's tantrums, and appreciate the little moments
Do it for yourself.
Let me ask you this, have you ever thought about the example you are setting for your child(ren) by not taking care of yourself?
What do you think it teaches them about their own happiness? Our children are like sponges, and do what they see their parents do.
Don’t worry. This isn’t another self-care blog aimed at providing you with 10 easy steps to love and care for yourself. There are already plenty of those available online, and they have some great advice.
I want to talk to you about a change of mindset, something that once put into practice will make self-care come more naturally. It is a journey that I am currently on after realising I never felt rested after taking timeout for my own self-care.
Take a pause, put on your oxygen mask first.
Sabbath. It’s a Hebrew word for a day of rest. A day to stop, to cease, or to keep. I love the way this word sounds like I'm doing something far more interesting than trying to rest. I also love that it can be something enjoyed by the whole family.
Western society use to acknowledge this day but flung it to the curb a long time ago. Some countries mostly in Europe, however, still observe it and I admire this greatly.
In Germany, everything stops on a Sunday. Some restaurants are open, and the baker closes his doors at noon but everyone else, including the truck drivers on the freeway, stop.
Now don’t get me wrong, even though Sabbath is a day of rest it's hard work that requires a change of pace, patience, and intention. It's not just about putting on a face mask, although you can do both.
When you start to intentionally put it to practice, you will find yourself struggling to sit still, procrastinating or stepping outside of the boundaries, and that’s okay because it’s part of the journey.
Acknowledge those things, and put them to one side when they happen.
Sabbath is more than a self-care ritual. By dint of hard work, as you carve out time to stop, reflect, eat, love, and enjoy rest, you will soak up what you have, where you are, and all that is around you.
Have you acknowledged those things recently? You don’t have to set aside lots of time to do this, it could be a moment throughout the day. But you should create a healthy habit to acknowledge what you have, where you are, and all that is around you. It gives perspective, slows down the hustle, and improves focus. In our family, we are actively trying to do more of this and we call it “gratitude over grumbling”.
My eldest will sometimes say “I know I should have gratitude but the grumbling is desperate to come out!”. I always remind him that if he grumbles it's okay, and I celebrate with him that he has recognised it. It's about the journey after all.
The practice of gratitude has a positive knock-on effect from improving your mental health to boosting your relationships with loved ones. Even setting boundaries in areas you have struggled with will become easier. All of these are things rarely factored into our self-care routine.
Thanks to technology and social media, we live in a results-orientated, comparative, competitive world. Technology owns us and for some strange reason, people wear exhaustion like a badge of honour. Ask someone how they are doing, and they’ll always include “busy” in their reply.
It’s exhausting trying to keep up. It's even worse for mothers. We juggle a lot, and we are constantly ...
from the moment we (or more likely our children) wake up. Even when we’re sick we don’t stop, we don’t have the luxury of staying in bed to allow our body time to rest and recover because our people need us. We continue to help others with their mask first.
Sabbath is important for remembering that life is not just about achievements or doing. Don't get me wrong they are nice, but if the last two years have taught me anything it's that life is about people, and the little things, that spark joy and happiness within us.
As I've already shared, learning to rest (and feel rested) is a journey I'm currently trekking through. If I can send you away from this blog with advice for your journey ...
Be kind to yourself. Make time to practice and persist with creating a healthy habit of good, restorative rest in pursuit of happiness, contentment, and self-care.
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