We’re all familiar with the safety instructions the flight attendant gives all passengers on a plane: when it comes to safety—put yourself first. It makes perfect sense when we have that urgent image of an oxygen mask dangling in front of us. The only way we can help others in such a situation is if we ourselves have the oxygen we need to think clearly, act quickly, and make good judgements. What we often forget is that the same principle applies in other areas of our lives, including parenting.
It can be hard to remember to put yourself first—or even prioritize yourself at all—when raising children. But it’s every bit as important to put yourself first in parenting as it is to put yourself first in an emergency. Engaging in self-care is not a sign of selfishness. It’s a sign of good parenting, and can have lasting benefits for both you and your children. Here are just three of the benefits you and your family can reap when you take care of yourself and make time for the things you love.
Putting yourself first enables you to be a better parent
The reaction of many parents when told that they need to put themselves first is, “I can’t. There are too many things I need to do for my kids—how can I put myself first and still have time and energy for them?” Although it’s counterintuitive, taking care of yourself actually makes you more capable of taking care of your family. The energy and peace you derive from regular self-care will spread to the way you parent—making you more patient and present when you are with your children.
Putting yourself first models behavior for your children
Remember, parenting involves more than providing your children with the necessities of life and teaching them right from wrong. Your behavior as a parent teaches your children about self-esteem, relationships, dealing with stress, and being an adult. Self-care is an important lesson for your children to learn. As you take time for yourself, you can show them how to develop healthy self-esteem and teach them that there is give and take in any strong relationship. By taking care of yourself, you demonstrate to your family that it’s okay for them to nurture and care for themselves, and that a person’s individuality is important.
Putting yourself first creates a happier home
We all need time and space to recharge, to connect with our true selves, and to do the things that bring us joy. You’ll find that you are happier and have a better attitude when you put yourself first—and as a parent, your mood often sets the tone for the whole family. As your self-care becomes a habit, your children will learn to respect your time and understand that you are simply putting that oxygen mask on first, so that you can be your best self when you’re with them. You and your family will all be happier and healthier as a result.