As a parent we are trained from day one that our children come first. We feed them, then we eat. When getting in the car we make sure they are securely buckled in before we fasten our seat belts. We make sure they are all tucked in at night (no matter how long it takes!) before we close our eyes. All our focus revolves around the needs of our little ones.
But think about the instructions before you take off on an airplane? The flight attendant is very specific to tell you that if those oxygen masks fall from the ceiling and we’re all scared out of our wits that your first job is to put on your mask and then help that child sitting next to you. Most likely going against every instinct and fiber of your being. The best course of action in this situation is to put yourself first. What do they know that we don’t?
How to put yourself first? For those of us with RAD kiddos we hardly ever see an opportunity for that. But being able to put ourselves first every now and then even for a bit is critical to sustain us for the long journey of caring for these special children.
There are lots of big and little ways to put ourselves first. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. I think the best thing to do is to remember the airplane analogy. And remember that you’re only worth something if you’re healthy enough to take care of your RAD kiddos. So here are some ideas of how to find some easy ways to put yourself first:
- If you find a few minutes in the house alone, put on some music and sing loudly or dance around the house.
- Take a bath (if you’re like me, when your children were little, you couldn’t remember the last time you bathed or went to the bathroom alone!)
- Sit outside at night after the kids are in bed and listen to the night noises, even for five minutes
- Ask for help from someone you trust. Could just be running to the grocery store.
- Say no.
- Read a book.
- Unplug-no phone, no computer, no TV.
- Eat breakfast first. Have your cup of tea or your toast or whatever. The kids won’t starve and there’s a chance you’ll actually eat.
I found these couple of blog posts from other moms who’ve seen the need and written about it. Check out this one about a mom who tried it for just one week! And then this article with a video on the benefits of putting yourself first from Forbes magazine. As always, I’ll add these links to my resource page if you want to go back and review them later.
I know putting ourselves first goes against everything we believe as parents. We immediately thing we’re doing it wrong. But maybe if we put the oxygen mask on first, we will be able to spend more time doing it right.
Until next time,