A Scary Trend

If you’ve ever been flying, you’ll remember receiving the ever helpful ‘safety speech’ at the beginning of the flight: “In the event of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop down from the ceiling, ready for use.” As parents, our first instinct would be to put the mask on our children and protect them from harm. The exact opposite is true; the mask needs to first be put on you and then on your children. Why? Because airlines have embraced one important fact: We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of our kids. We need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of our kids; we can’t help them if we’re dead!

Sadly, this fact escapes us in everyday life, doesn’t it? We tend to put our own needs (note I said needs and not wants) behind everyone else’s. We eat last; we sleep less; we hardly remember to drink two cups of water a day, much less ten; we push ourselves to the limit to get things done; we overburden ourselves with ‘responsibility’; and we go until we drop.  While I find it admirable, caring for others, we also need to be taking care of ourselves.

Recently, I’ve noticed a scary trend. More and more parents, especially homeschooling parents, are taking a hit. We’re tired, we’re frustrated, and we’re almost ready to throw in the towel. Why is this? Perhaps it is because we are putting everyone ahead of our own needs.

Eat – Let me be the first to admit, I don’t eat enough. And when I do, I don’t eat the right things. For years, I lived on Snickers and Coke. (Yeah, I know; bad combination.) If we aren’t feeding our bodies the right food, how can we expect our bodies to function properly? If we aren’t functioning properly, how can we be expected to care for others? Eat a healthy, balanced diet and do it regularly.

Drink – Yup; I’m bad at this, too. It wasn’t until I started making myself sick from lack of hydration that I started to take this seriously. Do yourself a favor… drink some water!

Sleep – Most of us don’t get enough of this either. If you can’t get eight solid hours during the night, consider taking short, afternoon naps. If you’re having trouble sleeping (which I do on occasion), narrow down the reasons why. Does your body need nourishment or hydration? Perhaps you need a little exercise? Which leads us to…

Sleepy Head

Exercise – You’d be amazed what just a twenty-minute walk everyday can do for your health and your mental well-being. If getting out of the house isn’t an option, find some form of activity which will get your heart pumping and your body moving. Play tag with the kids! They’ll think you’re loads of fun and you’ll get the exercise you need.

Time Out – Even if we’re doing everything else we’re supposed to, sometimes we just need a break. Affecting more our mental heath than physical (although it can start affecting our bodies), stress takes a toll. Don’t be afraid, or ashamed, to take a step back when needed; ask for space. When you’ve had an opportunity to just breathe, you’ll find your able to function more efficiently.

Conversation – I don’t know about you, but just hearing a friendly voice keeps me balanced. Sometimes we just need to talk with others who understand where we are and hear their wisdom on how to move forward. Never be ashamed to call on friends and ask to talk. Being able to express ourselves and unload the doubts praying on our minds maintains our mental health.

Seek Help – So, you’ve tried everything else and something still feels off? Call the doctor! It isn’t your imagination, it isn’t you being dramatic; there is probably a very logical reason for your feeling ‘down’. It might be hormones; it might be thyroid issues; it might be a vitamin deficiency (which is what mine was); or it could be something more serious. It’s better to have a professional way in on the situation and set your mind at ease. Have your family doctor do a quick check and let you know what’s really going on.

When we remember to eat, drink, sleep, and take time for ourselves, we better serve those around us. When our bodies are healthy, we are better able to minister with grace, mercy, and love. Taking care of your needs isn’t selfish, it’s essential. To take care of others, you must first take care of you.

Time to Chime In: Which are you most likely to skip out on: food, sleep, or exercise?

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37 thoughts on “A Scary Trend

  1. I don’t have children yet, due in May, but I work as a children’s minister and this is the exact message I tell all my overwhelmed or frustrated parents. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves we cannot possibly do as good a job at taking care of another. Great post.

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  2. Funny you used this analogy because I had used that on myself recently. Thinking about what the flight attendants tell you prior to taking off and boy, I need to eat today ( : Insightful post and a great reminder.

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  3. We all do this to some point because there is no one there to stop us. We forget we are human too 🙂 I think we just have to realize our own limits then we can take care of ourselves. I usually skip sleep more than anything else because I’m an early bird and have always been.

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  4. WATER! Oh , that’s a struggle for me! I actually carry a 16 oz bottle around the house and have a little checklist with numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 on it with the goal of drinking 4 of those bottles in a day. I indulge in a bit of chocolate for the first 32 oz, one more small piece at 48 and another at 64! I really have to motivate myself because drinking just doesn’t come to me as a natural instinct!

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  5. Exercise is the one I’d like to get more of. I have a treadmill, and I read while I’m walking, but it’s pretty hard to make the time to do it. Thanks for the post; some days I do feel as if I’m wearing myself out by being unhealthy.

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  7. So true and I can relate so much! I have a 5 and a 2 year old and at times I was on the verge of break down. Now I started going to gym twice a week, remind myself to drink water and eat well, we have a nanny once a week so I can go on a date (!) with my husband wearing hills and not chasing toddlers, I try to revamp my wardrobe. Now I’m finally feeling happier and I noticed how much better I relationship with my husband is. Plus, at least I think, I’m a less stressed out mommy for my kids most of the time 🙂

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  8. When my first was a baby I would take care of her first. I spent most of the first year hungry and tired. I also lost a lot of weight. I learned that I had to take better care of myself to take better care of her. Now with my second baby, I have way more energy and am able to be a better mom because I’m eating better and getting “recharge” time as well.

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  9. Thank you for this excellent reminder. I’ve started speaking to my kids about my needs, saying things like “Mommy needs to eat or she won’t feel good,” if the kids try to get me to help them or play when I’m sitting down for a meal. Modeling self-care and boundary setting is a practice that will benefit our children.

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  10. Sleep and eating. Exercise is one of the few ways I get out of the house and have a minute of KT time, so I try not to miss it. Sleeping? Ha! Eating? Only if I remember I’m supposed to… Gotta get as much done as I can so I can take an hour for Zumba! lol

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  11. I tend to skip out on the exercise. Missing water and nutritious food affects me within a couple of hours. Missing exercise? I know it affects me, but it’s not like the shaking, black, dizzy sensation of low blood sugar. So it’s much easier to say, “I’ll do it later…”

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  12. Very true!!! I too have found myself in a bad situation due to dehydration. So important for all of us to remember that we too are human and while we want the very best of everything for our little ones we need to remember we have needs to stay healthy as well.

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  13. This is a tough one, I’d say a three way tie! I usually go to sleep thinking, “I’m gettign up before the kids tomorrow and I’m going to workout and eat breakfast before their feet hit the floor.” Flash forward to the next morning, I open my eyes to their sweet faces tugging at my blanekts and think, “maybe tomorrow.”

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