You know when you're on an airplane, and the flight attendants are giving out instructions, and they tell you that if the airbags drop, you are to place your own airbag on first and only then are you to help others?
I've always found that to be counter-intuitive. My gut reaction tells me to help my kids first. And help myself next.
Except that I'm wrong. If I help my kids first, presumably by getting them situated in their oxygen masks, I've taken valuable time away from helping myself. And then I pass out, and my poor kids are stuck, unsure of what to do, and then I die. And they grow up without me. All because I couldn't follow directions.
I'm being a little dramatic (I hope), but you get the point. The directions are there for a reason. If I can help myself first, I have paved the way to next help my children and anyone else on the plane.
And guys, it's taken me a long time to get to this point, but I'm finally realizing that this direction matters as much in real life as it does on an airplane. You have to take care of yourself first. Because if you don't, you're not much good to anyone else.
I'm speaking from experience, of course.
I was raised to believe that parents take care of their children. That your children are a top priority. And I don't dispute that.
But somewhere along the line, I've forgotten a bit about taking care of myself. And it's taken a toll.
I watched a video recently of our family when we got our dog. It was four years ago. And while I spent much of the video marveling at how little the kids looked, or the way their voices sounded, I was also struck by something else...I was so patient.
I was so patient, in fact, that I hardly recognized myself.
Because as I continue to parent, and homeschool, and work from home and do the countless other things that are important—and they really are important...they deserve my time—I've completely lost sight of taking care of myself.
The result? Impatience. Annoyance. Frustration. Yelling. All the things I don't want for me or my family.
There's a saying floating around that says, "You can't pour from an empty cup."
Guys...my cup is a bit empty these days.
I don't mean to sound ungrateful, so let me clarify. I am incredibly thankful for my children, my home, my health and my job. For all of it! I'm just also aware that if I don't put some plans in place to take care of myself, I can't truly enjoy any of those things...I'm burning the candle from both ends without refilling my resources.
And so...2017. Here it is. And along with my goals of writing, and exercising, and being a better mother and wife and saving the world—cause who doesn't want to do it all?—I'm putting myself on the list as well.
I'm not sure what taking care of yourself looks like to you...it may be spa days or island cruises, pedicures or marathon training. For me, it's actually pretty simple. It's dates with my husband. Reading tons of books. Listening to new music. Painting. Getting regular haircuts (don't even ask how long it's been since this was a priority). Learning (I'm working on Spanish and the piano). Taking risks. And doing regular skin checks since I have a history with melanoma.
These are things, easy things, that make me incredibly happy. And a happy mom is a thousand times better than the mom I've been showing my kids...one who's snappy, irritable, and impatient. Taking care of ourselves isn't, as I've been guilty of thinking, selfish. It's actually the complete opposite. If we don't put the oxygen masks on ourselves first, we're in no shape to help anyone else.
So these are my goals for 2017. It will take some effort, but I'm feeling hopeful. Wish me luck!
Danielle Davies (@daniellendavies) is the creator of the internet sensation, My Life with Bradley Cooper, as well as a writer and artist living in New Jersey. Read more...
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