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The Oxygen Mask Principle

Jul 29, 2011

by Caleb Gardner handmade and vintage goods

Whenever you fly somewhere, they always give you the same speech. Turn off your cell phone. Check out your nearest exit. And in the event of an emergency, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling like plastic angels. And what do they always warn you to do? Put on your own mask before helping others.

To be a parent is to know your limits — physically, mentally, emotionally. You work for eight (or more) hours, come home to your kids, and immediately those kids expect you to be more than someone who just worked for eight (or more) hours. They want to talk to you, to play with you. They also want you to make them dinner, read to them, give them baths, prepare them for the next day. In short, they need you.

In the middle of all of these demands, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself, to spend all of your time giving and not expect anything in return. But I think it’s really important for parents to take time away from being parents. Call it adult time. Call it “me” time. I call it the “Oxygen Mask Principle.”

In order to be the best possible parents we can be, my wife and I had to figure out ways to take care of ourselves so we could better take care of our family. For me, it means playing guitar, or getting out of the house to go to a coffee shop and read a good book, or (on particularly rough days) a glass of scotch. For my wife, it usually means tending to her garden, knitting, or just having a quiet house all to herself. (I’m aware that a lot of these things make us sound like a family in the 1950s, but hey, it’s what we like.) It also means we have to jealously guard spending time with each other away from our son. Date nights have become more than a luxury; they are a necessity.

I guess my point with all this is that it’s so easy for me to make life about taking care of other people. But in order to not burn out, I have to also find ways to put my own mask on first. That’s not always easy to do, but it’s incredibly important for me to keep my sanity. And I think this applies beyond just parenting. I’ve seen burn out happen to teachers, nurses, pastors — anyone whose time constantly involves taking care of other people is especially at risk of burning out.

And in a way it makes sense. The reason they want you to put on your oxygen mask first is because without oxygen you won’t have the energy to be able to help those around you. Then everybody ends up in worse shape. You need that oxygen, that energy that helps you be the best version of yourself. Your loved ones will thank you for it.

So how are you taking care of you? What recharges you? I’d love to hear some ideas, as long as you’re okay with me potentially stealing them.

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  • TheMillineryShop

    TheMillineryShop said 9 years ago

    Just like most people, I garden, ride a bike or retreat to the bath with a good book. But I feel guilty.

  • katielynnjewelry

    katielynnjewelry said 9 years ago

    Now that me and my brothers have grown up, it has been nice to see my parents having more time for themselves, and I have appreciated everything they have done for their children! <3

  • eatlllagar

    eatlllagar said 9 years ago

    I gave up trying to be a superparent after number two came along. No more books, no more wondering where we are in terms of normal or exceptional. I have embraced my inner joan crawford, but I also know when to cut her off and ask for a muh and forgiveness. For me beer and books and going out to a movie with the mister are the oxygen.

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 9 years ago

    i like to meditate, walk my dog, and i'm always playing! anything like swinging, swimming, basketball. i just try to still tap into my inner kid :)

  • RosieJo

    RosieJo said 9 years ago

    Sometimes when I get an hour or too free I feel compelled to do lots whilst I have the chance. But it is the times I resist that urge and do as little as possible that are the most refreshing.

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 9 years ago

    Wow. Great post! I totally agree about needing the oxygen. Right now I could use some but don't see it happening anytime soon although I try. I need to try and schedule a date night or something. Even if it's only once a month it's better than nothing at all. My husband and I don't mind staying in and snuggling up with a good movie so it doesn't take much to make us happy. I try and keep things exciting in our life because I feel it's important. Just recently we went swimming and boating and ziplining which was awesome! This fall we are going to the NASCAR driving experience and I want to book a room in chef Gordon Ramseys hotel in NY and get a couples massage while enjoying a nice dinner prepared in his restaurant. I am super excited for that!

  • SketchAway

    SketchAway said 9 years ago

    I go sketch. It's zen, like meditation for me, it's as in the moment as I can be.

  • sushibooties

    sushibooties said 9 years ago

    This is great principle! Working from home during the summer when you have kids home all day is not easy, I feel like counting down the days until they have to go back to school! Maybe this year I'll have an adult party to celebrate the start of the new school year! Although by the end of the school year it always seems to be that I'm counting down the days until there out! Weird how that works..

  • shiriwine

    shiriwine said 9 years ago

    I also use this code but I call it: "Your mask first"

  • TheIDconnection

    TheIDconnection said 9 years ago

    For me going to estate/garage sales is my meditation. I also love yoga.

  • PiecefulDesign

    PiecefulDesign said 9 years ago

    My husband and I get away, by ourselves, a couple of times a year. Sometimes its a long weekend, and rarely, a sun-drenched week in Hawaii. We realized how essential just ten months after our first son was born. That spring, we had planned a getaway in early October, 2001. Of course, the whole world came tumbling down just a month before our trip was scheduled. My husband, who worked in the Trade Center and was also a first-responder, survived. Humbled, we decided to take the trip anyway, with the loving support of my brave mother, who flew into a much-changed New York to take care of our son. We found on that trip that some things can only be said between adults when children are not your immediate responsibility. Yes, that was the oxygen mask for our marriage, and for ourselves. We just celebrated our 16th this must be working.

  • MapleCreekShop

    MapleCreekShop said 9 years ago

    My fiance and I have a year old daughter and are just now beginning to understand the value of date nights. Thrifting is a calming way for me to clear my mind as well.

  • eclecticelixir

    eclecticelixir said 9 years ago

    I like to take pictures-usually outside. I experiment with the settings and angles of shots etc. I love looking at them afterwards and finding things in the pictures that I didn't notice at the time or just discovering something different to take photos of.

  • LadyAria

    LadyAria said 9 years ago

    To keep from burning out at work (pharmacy tech at a major chain), I will spend time as far away from people as possible. I'll work on my hobbies, or have friends around that make me laugh. Once a year I'll take a little adventure and make a complete depature from reality at a masquereade!

  • HouseOfMoss

    HouseOfMoss said 9 years ago

    Yes. The more I live, the more I realize the truth to this concept.

  • calebgardner

    calebgardner said 9 years ago

    This is great. Love hearing what everyone does to unwind. Keep it coming!

  • ThePleasantPheasant

    ThePleasantPheasant said 9 years ago

    My kids are ages 40 and 43, and very different from one another. When you wake up one day and realize that you've been taking care of one of them without much oxygen for a very long time, and that one has sucked the oxygen from you and everybody around them without much care about the cost to the rest, you realize that you should have sat back and sucked your oxygen mask for yourself way more often. C'est la vie, it is what it is. Live and learn. :)

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 9 years ago

    I enjoy reading your articles! Someone forgot to warn you that this happens when you have kids, you do give up you for the sake of your children, which is fine - it might feel like it forever, but it does not last long and you get yourself back again. Part of it is accepting that and enjoying "your time" at work (minus the kids), or at the coffee shop or book store - because really that is as good as it gets! If your wife is with the kids all day then she also needs her turn and the hours away to not have everybody dependent on her! For my escapism after a full days work I make macrame, a hobby now turned part time job and enjoy coming up with various creations! In summary creating forces you to focus on what you are doing now! Drawing, painting, writing!

  • TheAngryWeather

    TheAngryWeather said 9 years ago

    Such amazing article :) and I totally agree: in order to give the best of yourself to the ones you love, you have to put on that mask first, breathe, recharge and then give it to the others around :)

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 9 years ago

    Gardening, dancing, swimming ..and my dog!

  • starbee

    starbee said 9 years ago

    Silence. Just 20-40 minutes of silence and not having to do anything. That's what I need to feel refreshed. I've been known to volunteer to go to the drug store just so I can stare at nailpolish colors and contemplate masacaras. In silence. Extra long showers work well. I've also stolen an idea I read somewhere and instituted "Mommy Hours" where I'm off the clock at 8pm. Kids have to be in bed by then because Mommy is downstaris and done for the day. Thems the rules! You need a glass of water after 8? Can't find your stuffed animal? Forgot to brush your teeth? Bummer. Mommy's done. You'll have to do it yourself!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 9 years ago

    It's always been one of my mantras in life that if you can't look after yourself your not really in a place where you can look after someone else, we all need some 'me' time...

  • HartlineDesigns

    HartlineDesigns said 9 years ago

    OH...with 6 kids...I need this one! My "oxygen mask" is my studio night out with other artists, and sharing good wine and cheese with friends. Momma's not really hiding from the kids...she's finding a way to be a better momma when she gets back!

  • tattereddaisey

    tattereddaisey said 9 years ago

    this was my phrase at a very stressful job, when multi-tasking just wasn't enough. co-workers always looked @ me a little strangely, like it wasn't possible. i did my knitting or reading during my occasional lunches. it helped center me and be a better manager.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 9 years ago

    Good advice! It's good to recharge!

  • laurenmojica

    laurenmojica said 9 years ago

    Kick. Boxing.

  • Lisarachel

    Lisarachel said 9 years ago

    So true! I have found giving my 4 year old son some one on one time before I start working on orders helps both of us have a better day, and me get some time to myself after it. A cup o coffee in the morning, a date night with my hard working all adds up to good things. thank you for shareing!

  • vintagebutterfly94

    vintagebutterfly94 said 9 years ago

    Not long ago, I got serious about taking a day off from Etsy. I know it sounds terrible, but I don't answer convos that are long and involved, I don't obsess and I don't list new items on Sundays. I also don't do laundry. In short, I don't work on Sunday. We eat simple meals that day and try to keep everything oriented to family and rest. I come back on Monday morning ready to go, with a renewed creativity. Most of my best listings are created on a Monday afternoon while the washing machine spins.

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 9 years ago

    that's a great analogy. it's good always good to stay as far away from codependency as possible. :D

  • fajitafieldtrip

    fajitafieldtrip said 9 years ago

    great post! It kinda made me cry... I have no time for myself! Thanks to your article though, I am thinking of what I could do differently.

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 9 years ago

    A few minutes of kid time when I first came through the door allowed me to spend the next 30 minutes or so getting a few things done. A nice hot cup of tea was & still is a mini retreat for me. Also, watching baseball...watching lots of baseball!

  • MerCurios

    MerCurios said 9 years ago

    Such great advice that I need to heed immediately. We only have one child and I joke that my husband is the "best mom" Gabriel will ever have. I need my alone time for sanity. For me that involves spending time in my studio, making, creating, dreaming. My husband on the other hand is happy spending time with the family - all of us - together. In almost 6 years (Gabe will be 6 in March) we have been out twice without our son. The first time was a friends wedding in 2008. The second was this past November when I was adamant about celebrating my 40th birthday child-free. Don't misunderstand, I love my family and being a mom is the BEST thing in the world. The mommy guilt I feel as a result of the "oxygen principle" is unbearable. The fact that hubby and I are not on the same page with said principle makes it that much more heart-wrenching. Usually it's the other way around, and I am blessed to have a husband, and Gabriel a father who participates as much as he does. Another "date night" would be nice though...

  • giftworldz

    giftworldz said 9 years ago

    My oxygen lately has been my 15 minutes with my hubby every night. Something I've been demanding for about 2 months now and it's done so much for our marriage. A lot of times it ends up being more than that but it really means a lot to me to have hubby all to myself after a full 12 hours with 3 little people needing me all day! Also my Etsy store has been such a WONDERFUL creative outlet for me. Bible reading, prayer, cooking and exercise are also must haves for sanity. Thanks so much for the article - it is very important to refuel so you can give your best to the kiddos.

  • BeaumontStudio

    BeaumontStudio said 9 years ago

    Thanks for this post. I am not a parent, but I have felt like a caretaker at times due to ill family members. Of course, parents have a huge responsibility to set a good example. Teaching your child, by example, that it is normal and natural to take time for oneself will help them to have the same healthful practice one day. A tree can be so generous, providing more fruit than one person could ever eat. And yet, it doesn't produce all the time. In certain seasons the roots are busy soaking up nutrients from the soil, and the leaves, soaking sun. We are not miffed or left feeling neglected that the tree doesn't produce all year long, because it is normal and healthy. Some of my favorite aids to centering myself are classical music, walking at the park or beach, bubble baths, stretching, giving myself a foot massage, or anything that gives me the feeling that I do not need to go anywhere, do anything, talk to anyone.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 9 years ago

    For my personal me time I like to read in bed... in the afternoons. To reconnect with my better half we go to bed an hour early sometimes, regardless of what's not done, & just TALK to each other like normal human beings. Yeah, sometimes one of us (or both of us) fall asleep, but at least we have a bit of time for just ourselves with no distractions.... "cuddle time" we call it. :-)

  • JennasRedRhino

    JennasRedRhino said 9 years ago

    You've made a great point and I enjoyed reading it. Parenting seems too difficult to me: I decided to fill my oxygen tank with a special contraceptive formula.

  • SweetSilverJewelry

    SweetSilverJewelry said 9 years ago

    The only way to continually pour out yourself (to your family, job, etc.) is to be continually filled up. I realize I cannot ever be a perfect wife, mom, etc., but I can be exactly what MY husband and kids need - IF I would allow God to fill me up on a daily (and moment by moment) basis. I struggle with setting time aside to meet with my God because "I'm too tired", "I need to get this laundry done", "I need to put more time into my shop", etc. This article has reminded me how important this is - for me and my family. Thank you!

  • zenceramics

    zenceramics said 9 years ago

    Really wonderful post and a great life principal! I agree about needing some time off either from kids or from non-ending family members and friends that want to visit you now all the time since you moved to South CA. We call our home now Miller's B&B. It was a joke at the beginning but now it is becoming a sad truth. But who does not want to stay in a wonderful FREE B&B where hosts go out of their way to entertain the guests.? Right now, I could use this Oxygen Mask. I actually need it badly but don't see it happening anytime soon. I guess we have to learn how to take care of ourselves and give ourselves some slack and also learn how to say "NO" once in a while.

  • TheBrassHussy

    TheBrassHussy said 9 years ago

    I really identify with this post. Raising 2 kids, working full time, and having a disabled spouse wears you down. The key is balance and finding time to yourself. I'm lucky in that my craft is small and portable. I have a to go case of beads and findings that I can grab in a few seconds. Being able to unwind on my lunch hour and tinker (yes I said tinker) with designs give me the break I need and feeds my creative side. I also take my supplies to stheir port practices. I can watch the kids and wrap a necklace or two during on of their practices. I feel restful and productive at the same time.

  • maliahaasl

    maliahaasl said 9 years ago

    this is a fantastic post...actually i thought that when my kids got older that they would need me less, but in essence, they need me just as much but in a different way. with older kids, they have different demands: homework, afterschool activities + carving time to hang out together as a family can be challenging. usually i try to get away to read or do something creative project whether it be writing poetry, art, playing guitar or forcing myself to stop and do something mindless like watch tv or nap! also i try to take a "girl trip" with girlfriends- last year i went to nyc with a best friend. it was the best thing i could have done for myself although i felt a bit guilty planning it. i came back refreshed + ready to tackle anything :)

  • NorthcottWilson

    NorthcottWilson said 9 years ago

    @JennasRedRhino: you go, girl! Don't let others try to convince you otherwise. My husband and I opted for that special formula over 20 years ago and we couldn't be happier!

  • danahageman

    danahageman said 9 years ago

    I am a mother of 3 girls under 7. It's so hard for me to put myself first and so a trip to the grocery store alone is the closest I grant myself to any breathing room. I come from such an incredibly giving and loving line of mothers, I always feel I will lose my identity without the self sacrifice. This is a good analogy to remind myself to give myself that without the guilt! Thank you so much. :)

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 9 years ago


  • heidiadnum

    heidiadnum said 9 years ago

    Great advice. Thank you. As for me, I'm still working it all out but I think eating out helps!

  • bedesisters

    bedesisters said 9 years ago

    I'm a mom of 3, homeschooling since 1997 (oldest graduated last year). It's tough to carve out time when my children are with me almost all the time. However, this summer, I'm making an effort to leave my sewing room and computer and go to the pool with my children as often as the weather permits. Everybody can swim now, so I don't have to be in the water with them, just nearby. Now, when school starts and the weather turns cool...

  • WednesdayAprons

    WednesdayAprons said 9 years ago

    such a nice article and so true.....while my two sons are grown, my youngest son, 26 now, was diagnosed with Nonhodgkins Lymphoma last year and we have just returned home from 4 months away from home for his bone marrow stem cell transplant. He is now in a state of recovering. I also have been primary caregiver for my ALS ridden mother for the past 5 1/2 while I have no young children at home, I am still laden with much caregiving. The caregiving of my mother creates a homebound 24-hour a day situation for me. Interestingly enough, my down time is sewing aprons that I now sell on ETSY. I have my room in the house, a converted bedroom, set up for sewing, photographing, and my computer....I carry a child monitor to the room so I can hear Mom if she needs anything and I escape to this room periodically thru the day....sometimes for 20 minutes, sometimes for longer.....the respite also comes with the mental place I go to design and dream my creations...... This outlet is actually the dreamchild of my youngest son. He has strongly encouraged me to sew more, helped me learn how to photograph the items more effectively (he is a photo major) and helped me get set up on Etsy... He is my cheerleader and collaborates with me on many of my creations. Thank you Etsy for providing this place for us to go....

  • LoveButtons

    LoveButtons said 9 years ago

    I take 15 minutes a day to write in my journal. It helps me to consider what has happened throughout the day, write down any new ideas for my work, let off steam or just doodle - very therapeutic!

  • WireAndGemstones

    WireAndGemstones said 9 years ago

    I can so relate. Sometimes you have to tag team with your partner to allow for breaks.

  • LavenderField

    LavenderField said 9 years ago

    Gardening used to be my "me" time. Now I crochet during most of my "me" time, or read, or just Etsy around (a lot)

  • chr15ta

    chr15ta said 9 years ago

    I think you have a very good point here! I don't have children, but I think this applies to everyone really. It is easy to get pulled in to life with all the things you have to do and forget to take time to really enjoy life and do something that feeds your soul. Aside from art, I love to go for walks with my fiance and our dog in a forest preserve near by. It might sound kind of cheesy, but it really helps me to slow down and enjoy life!

  • azarcapshaw

    azarcapshaw said 9 years ago

    I love the name - Truly, we need some oxygen!

  • redhardwick

    redhardwick said 9 years ago

    This is a great article! I was just talking to my husband yesterday about balancing everything. Some days (actually most) I don't know how to "do it all." I stay at home with my son and I'm trying to start my business and be creative, take care of myself and our home. It gets really crazy sometimes. I have to stop and look at the bigger picture, focus on what I want and that helps me to prioritize what's most important. I will definitely be printing out this article and hanging it where I can see it everyday! Thanks for sharing!

  • redhardwick

    redhardwick said 9 years ago

    This is a great article! It really is so hard to balance everything, my husband and I were having this conversation last night. My creative time is really my only "me" time. That's when I can disconnect from everything else. I just wish I had more of it. I stay home with my son, trying to start my business and be creative as much as possible while taking care of my health and our home. I will be printing this article and hanging it where I can see it everyday as a reminder. Thank you for sharing!!

  • waterripplestudio

    waterripplestudio said 9 years ago

    As a stay-at-home mom of two boys, one of whom has disabilities, I've have to become an expert at learning how not to get burned out. Years ago when I was stressed out I would turn to food, but while yummy in the moment, it only makes you over weight. These days I destress with lots of bike riding and come home smiling and in great shape. But my best kept secret is what I call combat pay. When things get rough in the man cave of a home I live in, I pay myself a token amount of money on the sly, save it up in a separate purse and when I have enough I buy myself something pretty on ETSY :) There's nothing like a lovely handmade silver necklace, a dangly pair of earrings, or a cute beaded anklet to make me feel special and give me the lift I need to clean that messy kitchen up one more time.

  • wretched91

    wretched91 said 9 years ago

    "You work for eight (or more) hours, come home to your kids, and immediately those kids expect you to be more than someone who just worked for eight (or more) hours. They want to talk to you, to play with you. They also want you to make them dinner, read to them, give them baths, prepare them for the next day. In short, they need you." My answer: The kids do not want you to do all these things for them, it is our duty as parents to do all these things for them. We gave birth to "those" kids, God gave those children to us. Of course we need time to vent, and relax sometimes, but we can't just take a break from being a parent. We are parents for ever! It is a gift from God to be a parent, even if it's through adoption. The world tell us that "we need", when in reality the children are the ones who need. Again, I am not saying we can't have time for ourselves, but to say that we need a break from being a parent? or that "those" kids expect you to play, bathe, or feed them? These children aren't puppies, they are "children" "human" beings. How do I take care of my self? I actually take a scenic drive for about 30 minutes, stop at an antique shop, let everyone know I am okay :). Get to bed early, eat healthy, stretch with the kids, etc... If I want to read, I tell the kids, it is reading time, and if it isn't an emergency do not interrupt me :) I have my oxygen mask at all times, it is called God's grace, and strength. I rely on that 24-7. There's nothing more beautiful than knowing your family appreciates everything you do for them because it is our duty , and we have to. I know everyone or most people do not share my opinion, we now live in a dead culture, where many women, and men do not want to have children due to selfish reasons. Material is not going to replace happiness, that is only temporary.

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 9 years ago

    Interesting article.

  • SmartyArty

    SmartyArty said 9 years ago

    I agree with you wretched91. Children are an extension of the parents. I think we need to involve the kids in the activities which have to be done so that when there is free time we all have it either together to to pursue separate activities. My family knows I go over and above, always have, always will. But they all do the same for me. You must build in respect. Also it depends on the age of the children but you can turn what has to be done into a fun activity. I have my oxygen mask on 24/7 too! Material never replaces happiness and health.

  • ScrappyTudeStudios

    ScrappyTudeStudios said 9 years ago

    Timely article since those of us with school-age children are deep into summer vacation. It's difficult in this age of instant entertainment to convince the kids that it is actually OK to be alone and bored once in awhile. (seriously guys! it's not fatal!) I love to read, sew (although this crosses the line into work these days), go out with my husband, spend time with girlfriends...oh yeah, and I may have spent a little time in front of hgtv once or twice ;) My heart really goes out to the single parents out there who can't pass the torch when it's time to oxygenate (and also to those who FEEL like single parents even though they technically aren't). Thanks for a great topic!

  • brianslittlegirl

    brianslittlegirl said 9 years ago

    I nanny, and after a 10+ hour day with 2 year old twin boys, I sometimes just want to come home and go to sleep! I need to get out on walks, in the neighborhood or on local trails, make time for a dinner or two a month with my girls and my boyfriend, and I love to read. It is so easy to get burnt out, trying to be perfect, and I have definitely learned the importance of making time for yourself.

  • LittlePinkTractor

    LittlePinkTractor said 9 years ago

    THANK-YOU for the reminder!

  • TheRedKnot

    TheRedKnot said 9 years ago

    I need time to recharge or I'm not a good mommy & wife. I birdwatch and spend time in nature. It brings back who I am after so many people are pulling on me. & yes, date night and time with my husband is very important. Good reminder!

  • rejive

    rejive said 9 years ago

    Even Jesus took time out. Rest is necessary.

  • maematthews

    maematthews said 9 years ago

    As I write this my 10 month old babbles to his red birdie and my 3 year old crunches into his veggie straws at the dining room table. I am thankful to be able to stay at home with them, but need time away to maintain the woman my husband fell in love with. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. We'll go to the movies or a walk on the beach. As soon as the 10 month old isn't relying on me for milk, we're going away for a couple of days. Looking forward to it.

  • BearStitches

    BearStitches said 9 years ago

    Don't put the mask away....As a baby boomer...I've moved from kids to elderly parents...still need the oxygen mask.

  • thisthatotherthings

    thisthatotherthings said 9 years ago

    We all need to remember to breath, Life is ever changing and resembles the past at time. This was fun to read, great article.

  • soberwear

    soberwear said 9 years ago

    Taking a time out is as important for me as it is for those around me. I journal and once a week write a note to my Mom. Staying in touch with myself and family is my O2

  • MetroGypsy

    MetroGypsy said 9 years ago

    Interesting article...

  • wretched91

    wretched91 said 9 years ago

    Thank you Smartyarty! Also, @ rejive; You are 100% correct :) I love and appreciate all the parents here who are burnt out, and need the down time so they can be better parents, and are looking for ways to become exellent! :) This was a great topic, and I thank God for all the parents here who are aware they need to refresh. How you do it is the key. Beautiful people :)

  • AlphabetCityStudio

    AlphabetCityStudio said 9 years ago

    Great analogy! Thanks for reminding us that it's OK to take time out for ourselves in order to take better care of those around us!

  • FleetingStillness

    FleetingStillness said 9 years ago

    I have 2 kids and a full-time job, and working on my glass is my oxygen. As for marriage, the 13th anniversary is coming up. We do not do date nights, but do lunches once a week on workdays and 2-day weekend trips without kids once in a while. Still, I think we should take care of ourselves more, like get enough sleep...

  • TashaHussey

    TashaHussey said 9 years ago

    How funny my Doctor just used this analogy and told me that i need to put the mask on myself and then on my children. It is very hard but necessary ! Love this piece great job.

  • laundrymonster

    laundrymonster said 9 years ago

    Great article. I have a 3 and a 6 year old, a full time job, and a very busy shop (I love working for my shop, and it does help me relax a bit) For personal time what I like to do is bring my camera to work with me and during my lunch get out and take pictures, or I treat myself to an ice cream, or shopping, or whatever. I can usually do that 3 days a week.

  • loveinbloomboutique

    loveinbloomboutique said 9 years ago

    I love this analogy. It reminds me of a similar one... We as parents (or caretakers of any kind) are like the soil. If we do not nourish the soil, how can we expect the seeds (the kids or others being cared for) to grow to their full potential? If we are totally zapped, how long and how well can we continue to keep on giving?

  • NatalieDrest

    NatalieDrest said 9 years ago

    This is so true! Burnt out parents are not very good parents!

  • BlueMoonLights

    BlueMoonLights said 9 years ago

    Great article! In general I treat myself to doing whatever I feel like when I'm taking time off from my responsibilities. It's like catching a breeze and seeing where it takes you. Living in the moment. I think I learned that from watching my kitty. Thank you for your encouraging article, I enjoyed it very much, it's so true and so important for being a healthy human being.

  • AliceCloset

    AliceCloset said 9 years ago

    This is so true!! Interesting article! Thank you :)

  • xWolfJ

    xWolfJ said 9 years ago

    Great article. And in keeping with the principles of Objectivism, or the philosophy presented in the work of Ayn Rand, and her characters. Our present age continues to be afflicted by the description of "Selfishness" as a negative thing, when it is actually more positive in this context, than to be an empty, drained, husk of a person exhausting all your energy on others. I agree with and support this article.

  • jungledread

    jungledread said 9 years ago

    Thanks for the reminder

  • ddfoto

    ddfoto said 9 years ago

    Great article!

  • ShoeClipsOnly

    ShoeClipsOnly said 9 years ago

    Wonderful article, you do need to take of you before you can possible take care of anyone else. Thanks for sharing!

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 9 years ago

    lol, like a lot of the above posts said..........thanks for the reminder. When u compare it with the oxygen mask, it seems that much more important, which it most certainly is.

  • LittlesTreasures

    LittlesTreasures said 9 years ago

    A very true statement! For my husband and I, besides taking time for each other (which as parents is definitely difficult because don't you just want to pass out at the end of the day?!), but we are both working on our individual goals as well. He works on his freelance and I am in graduate school for my MSN. We find that when we recharge our brains and creativity we have more to offer each other and our kids. I actually have found that my grad school nights are my "girls night out." I am in a program with a bunch of women I work with and it's so much fun! It's a lot of work, but it really does replenish me when I get a presentation or paper completed. I think it's also good for our kids to see us have goals we're working towards. So! Those are just some of the ways we recharge. With the kids, however, we get out the kids' guitars, and either have rock band concerts or "break it down" time and dance. :) In other words, we recharge by laughing and having fun together. :) It's pretty amusing to see a 3yo and 1yo trying to breakdance! :) Even more amusing to see my husband join in. And I will stop my reply at that. :) :)

  • aylinmadden

    aylinmadden said 9 years ago

    So true, LOVED reading this article...:):):)

  • marsiescrafts

    marsiescrafts said 9 years ago

    i came to this conclusion last week though i tend to call it a breather i went a full week working on home job and with kids 19 hours a day i rarely had time to shower let alone anything else though i realized i was not enjoying the time i had with my crew (6 kids and husband) though i still havent cut back my 19 hour days i have carved out one of those hours to be for me so very happy to see others come to the same conclusion maybe this will allow me to feel less quilty thank you as for my breather time i like music loud music and beads love to work on my beads i find it very relaxing

  • Krystyna81

    Krystyna81 said 9 years ago

    I really appreciate this article, especially since it's hard to come out and say "I need some ME TIME" until it's too late! One thing that has really helped my sanity is moving my art studio out of my home. Now, while creating, I am not looking around thinking about the laundry that has to get done or feel guilty about not starting dinner. As a couple, my husband and I had to realize that we can both have different interests without it meaning that we were too busy for or not interested in each other. We each need time to do what we love, so that our time together can be that much more enjoyable.

  • EarthAndSeaEntwined

    EarthAndSeaEntwined said 9 years ago

    Great article, and very true! We love our little guy to the moon and back. But we love our *us* time, too. He, too, plays the guitar when he gets the chance. I go downstairs and work at my craft table or read. Every few months my mom and step dad will take our little man to their semi-retirement home for a week. Of course after the first night we don't know what to do with ourselves and still go to bed at 9. But, we appreciate the time to ourselves and knowing we have the option to enjoy nightlife like we did pre-baby if we wanted. Number 2 is on his/her it will be interesting.

  • retromanvintage

    retromanvintage said 9 years ago

    Bravo!! well done and much needed.. gracias xo

  • Nachokitty

    Nachokitty said 9 years ago

    I went to see Harry Pottery by myself. I had a great time! With 3 little kids, a biz & a farm, it's busy here. We both work at home, so we take time to sneak time together in the middle of the day-when no one really needs us. When the baby is asleep, the other kids go out to play and we hang out for a while. Totally recharges us.

  • kittybelle

    kittybelle said 9 years ago

    Thanks for putting such an easily understood metaphorical name on this important concept of self care. I often find myself urging friends and family to take time for themselves -- now I have a simple phrase I can use and they'll know exactly what I'm trying to say.

  • Shoebacca16

    Shoebacca16 said 9 years ago

    Good article. My child is the light of my life and I care enough about him to properly teach him to use the English language thoughtfully and completely. I want people to take him seriously, which they will not do if he doesn’t know the difference between there, their, and they’re. Or if he spells the number ‘two’ like ‘too.’ He means enough to me not to let him go out in the world & embarrass himself, like so many commenters before me. English & grammar can be really fun; I hope more of us embrace it. (And please don’t get defensive. I’m not holier than thou and I make plenty of mistakes, but the glaring grammatical errors are all around us and I know we’re better than that). Let’s put our oxy-masks on and teach our kids to be smart, funny, thoughtful, well-rounded people that can hold their own in conversations with the best of the best! Have a great day

  • Pivotaljoy

    Pivotaljoy said 9 years ago

    I had a very kitche sign which hung over my a reminder to myself and my family..."I'm not supermom - so adjust!" I always made certain that my sign hung crookedly on the wall, which seemed to add emphasis to the meaning. My housekeeper (mandatory for mothers of multiples!) must have wondered if the sign was imbalanced since it was always askew when she came to clean. The first thing I would do when I got home on cleaning day was to go in and make the sign crooked....if I forgot, my kids would do it for me!! So, a sense of humor goes a long way in maitaining sanity!!

  • ChilliPeppa

    ChilliPeppa said 9 years ago

    So, so true, I need to be creative, if I'm not finding time to do the things I want to do the time I have with her is less enjoyable. Everybody needs to put their own mask on first every now and then.

  • TheSteelFork

    TheSteelFork said 9 years ago

    wow. such a poignant article. thank you for writing this. I also enjoyed perusing the comments. What an amazing batch of people. we have 3 children under five years old - and own our full-time arts business together. just recently we decided to give each other an evening a week. in addition to our regularly scheduled "breaks" to work- we have an evening to do something for ourselves. it is working out nicely. all the best. thanks again for writing this.

  • SalvagePatch

    SalvagePatch said 9 years ago

    Hmmm indeed! I think that as long as you get your "oxygen" at some point then you'll be fine. To me this is a typically male attitude to parenting- If you have the luxury of seeing to your own needs before the kids then you clearly have kids old enough to take care of themselves or *someone else is doing it* while you refresh. So I pick my girl up from preschool- after a day at work- take her home- so according to you I should tend to my needs?? Well my husband wont get in from work for another 2 or 3 hours so should my little girl just wait to be fed while I have 30 mins to myself- Who should watch her while Im off re-charging? It simply isnt feasible for everyone - and like I say- I suspect that either you have older kids OR someone else is carrying the can.

  • LoveOfAllVintage

    LoveOfAllVintage said 9 years ago

    I love this and agree 100%. I have two young children and if I don't get my time then even they feel it. Because I am more frazzled and quicker to upset. It's best for us all when I have my alone time too. Great article

  • studiorandom

    studiorandom said 9 years ago

    I'm a little confused how someone goes to work 8 hours a day, comes home, and immediately decides they need a break from the kids, specifically. It's not kids you need a break from. You just had 8 hours of a "break" from them. You just need some unwinding time, period. That would be true whether or not the kids were there. But the truth is that if you have kids, there are going to be certain things they need from you at certain times, and if something needs to be done, you don't get a break til they're done. And if the other adult in the house has been home with them all day, maybe that person could use a breather themselves. You have just gotten off your 8-hour workday. You are getting a break from *that* work. Your partner has had 8 hours of work too. When do they get a break? It is what it is. And for anyone who's saying "ooh this is why I will never have children," wake up and smell the coffee--your partner or spouse could become permanently disabled tomorrow, or your parents or siblings could. At some point you will wind up taking intensive care of *someone*, or overseeing the person you've hired to do the work for you. The simple fact is you can't turn off life like you can the TV. Maybe we had all better get used to that fact all over again. Yes, we still need to take care of ourselves. But if life has gotten so hectic that you constantly need mini-vacations from it, maybe it's time you asked for some help--or pared back on what's causing the stress. That obviously can't be your kids or other loved ones--so what *can* you pare back on?

  • LarkyPark

    LarkyPark said 9 years ago

    I houseclean. Just kidding, that's cray-zay. For the 5 second mom break - i stare outside at nature or (i kid you not) a screensaver of the outdoors. For brainless - it's me and the cinema by myself. Nobody needs me and I get the only thoughtchain. To rip it up/getaway - i love dancing with my gang of galpals or time on a catamaran...pure he'van.

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