November 24, 2014 - 3:30pm -- young.1414

When sitting on an airplane waiting for take-off, have you ever put much thought into why flight attendants instruct parents travelling with young children to put on their oxygen mask first before putting it on their small children?

Quite simply, in order to effectively care for a child in this situation, the adult must take the steps to care for themselves first.  Without taking care of yourself, it is difficult to be able to be helpful to your child travelling with you.  It’s easy to see this connection related to travelling on a plane, but truth is, parents need to take time to care for themselves on a regular basis.  In fact, in order to have the energy to take care of all our child’s needs and desires, we need to make sure that we are also taking care of ourselves. 

With the many demands on our time, parents often find it difficult to take care of ourselves.  We may sacrifice our needs for the sake of time, energy and money.  However, practicing self-care is actually very important to becoming an effective parent.  Not only does our body need the care to be healthier, but we have to be thoughtful about the unhealthy behaviors being demonstrated to our children.  Self-care includes the simple things like getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals, as well as, meeting our emotional, social, psychological, creative and spiritual needs.

Some examples of self-care include:

  • Eating regularly in healthy ways
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Sleeping enough
  • Getting away from the phone, email, TV
  • Spending time with friends
  • Expressing emotions
  • Cuddling and kissing someone you care about
  • Saying no to extra responsibilities
  • Giving yourself quiet time for self-reflection
  • Writing in a journal
  • Enjoying a hobby

As parents, we, at times, feel pressured to give so much to our children.  It is not easy to reorganize the way things are prioritized in our hectic lives.  It is important to remember that taking care of yourself is not neglecting your child’s needs.  So just like on the airplane, don’t forget to grab your oxygen masks first.

Written by: Kathy Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University, Butler County, Miami Valley EERA

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA