If You Hear it Thrice, Give it Heed

Most of us have taken enough airline trips that we no longer pay any attention to the safety instructions that the crew presents before take-off. However, in my private psychology practice with children, I frequently make reference to one particular aspect of these instructions, namely the part about putting one’s own oxygen mask on first before assisting small children. My point in referencing this tip is to remind mothers that if they do not take care of themselves first, they won’t be able to provide very good care for the children, or, worse yet, there will be no one left to care for the children when they completely burn themselves out. As I prepared to write this article today, I wanted to see if I could find the exact wording for the safety instructions so that I could present those words here. The first hit I got on the search engine was an article about reducing stress, specifically about managing your physical and emotional energy wisely. The third item on the search list was a page of ‘daily thoughts’ on which an excerpt from a book chapter about caring for yourself made this exact same point. The book’s chapter mentioned that if a parent should happen to pass out for lack of oxygen, a child is going to have a much more serious problem than if the child had just been forced to wait a few moments for the parent to put on his own mask. Okay, so that blows that idea for an article, this is clearly an old idea that lots of people have had. That said, I’m going to completely switch topics mid-article. Another thing I routinely tell my patients is that even if you aren’t wearing a hat, if 3 separate people comment on your hat, it is time to go look in a mirror. The point there is that when people are giving you feedback, 3 different people that have no reason to conspire against you, and all the feedback is the same, no matter how much you don’t want to believe what they are telling you, you really should think about it because the chances are really good that the feedback is accurate. Now, with that in mind, please consider that 3 separate sources that have no reason to conspire with each other just told you the thing about the oxygen mask and really try to consider that idea, that it is really important for parents to take care of themselves first before they can effectively care for their children and remember to put things into your schedule that refresh and revitalize you, things like adequate sleep, vacations, evenings out on the town, lunches with other adults, playing basketball with your buddies, or reading quietly on a park bench.

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