Monday, July 15, 2024

Fill Yourself Up! (The Oxygen Mask Rule)

April 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Parenting From BalanceĀ©

Being a stay at home mom can be exhausting. A lot of that exhaustion comes from the demands not only others put on us, but the demands that we put on ourselves. And it is also tricky: we trick ourselves into thinking that because we are at home PHYSICALLY with our children all of the time, that we are PRESENT with them. And therefore we often take for granted the time we have together, and spend it in “parallel” mode, rather than really connecting with our children. So, ironically, some stay at home moms end up spending less ‘quality’ 1:1 time with their children than working moms do!

And we do this because it’s a vicious circle! We are exhausted by feeling compelled to over-do everything else to make up for the ‘luxury’ of staying at home. And then guilt drives us to do without in lieu of being with our child. It is insidious, how, little by little we give up doing things for ourselves, because we believe that we should be spending more time with out child. Until finally we realize that we are doing nothing for our own pure enjoyment anymore. Everything is a compromise, or hinged on that love we have for our child. We end up having no 1:1 time with ourselves, and instead we snatch stolen moments at the computer while we yell to the other room “just a moment honey…” and as we yell it, we feel a twinge of guilt that we aren’t fully present with our child… and also a twinge of resentment that we are, yet again, not able to be fully present with our own stuff! We start to lose our lovely multifaceted selves, and become simply, “mom.” As lovely as the word is, it is not sufficient to express fully the beautiful essence of who we are… We would never willingly describe ourselves with a single adjective, just as we would never intend to limit our child to being simply “a son.”

So the question is, what about YOU? Remember the oxygen mask rule: when flying, we are instructed to, in case of a loss in air quality, put the mask on ourselves before helping our child. The same goes for life: take care of yourself well, so you can have enough to share with your child and your family. Hire a sitter or swap with a friend so you can each have some mommy time, and fill yourself back up so there more MOMMY to go around!!!!

And beware, moms — sometimes we feel guilty when we want to hire a caregiver because we feel we are depriving our child of us… but actually, we are giving them a gift: we are giving them time to be with themselves, and with someone who is dedicated to paying full attention to them. And because we are able to replenish ourselves during that time, the net sum is that we are actually giving them MORE of ourselves, not less!

Lots of Love,
Linda Shannon
Riviera PlaySchool, a Redondo Beach preschool for attachment parents

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