First, secure your own oxygen mask!

Jessica Cifuentes | June 09, 2022

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First, secure your own oxygen mask!

I recently had the opportunity to get out of town for a long weekend. It was a much overdue trip–let’s just say it was probably the first time I had been away from my kids in almost 6 months let alone have time alone with my spouse.

Sound familiar?

We boarded the plane as usual, shuffled to our seats, stowed our carry-ons in the overhead bin and clicked on our seatbelts. 

“Be sure your tray table is in the upright position…Should an emergency situation occur, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first, before, attempting to help those around you.” 

I paused after this announcement. Of course I had heard this warning many times before but to me, this safety announcement was attached to a bigger life metaphor: Try to serve and lead out of a healthy, full, life and heart before trying to help others. 

Now, I’m not claiming originality here as a quick Google search revealed many people have made the same connection, but I am claiming a strong reminder to you as parents that in the pressure of home-education it’s essential to take care of yourself. Of course I don’t mean take spa-day in lieu of feeding your children, but do take careful account of what you are modeling to your children. Are you taking time to meditate or pray? Are you feeding yourself well? Setting healthy boundaries? Participating in life-giving activities? 

I generally find that the healthier I am as a person, the healthier I am as a teacher. This isn’t rocket science, but a gentle reminder of what you probably already know: take a quick inventory of your mind, body, and spirit. Make small, reasonable adjustments each day and see how that affects school time with the kids, meal time interactions, and moods. Below are some practical ideas to start implementing today. 

  1. Start the day off on the right foot: For some, that might mean taking a walk in the morning and spending some quiet time journaling with a cup of coffee. Whatever your ideal morning routine looks like, try to start your day with some kind of movement and mental preparation for whatever the day might bring. 

  2. Meal Prep (hint-include the kids): “Hangry” is a real thing in our house. Whether it’s the summer or school year, keep healthy snacks on hand. Allow your kids to help pick out a meal and even have them help make it depending on their age and skill level. It’s amazing how much better kids eat when they have a role in preparing the food. 

  3. Get some z’s: Seems obvious, but your sleep affects every aspect of life. This is a difficult one for some and easy for others but sometimes you have to be really intentional about getting the amount of sleep that is sufficient for your body. I stress “your” because every person is different. There’s no shame if you need a solid 10 hours of sleep while another person can function on 7. 

  4. Go outside: Sometimes when the stress of the day rises, the best antidote is stepping outside. There’s something soothing and grounding about looking at the trees and sky, feeling the sun or breeze, and hearing the hum of insects. In the heat of summer, this may be all of 2 minutes, but it’s amazing how a brief outdoor reset can put the tension of the day into perspective. 

  5. Laugh: Have you laughed today? Sounds like a strange question but some of the most poised, strong, and adaptable people I know have a way of looking at life with curiosity and humor. Laughing also releases a ton of feel-good chemicals in the brain including dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. Find joy in little things, learn to laugh at yourself in a kind way, and write down all those random things your kid says that bring a smile to your face. 

Educating your children is a noble pursuit but can easily lead to fatigue. It’s ok to stop at intervals and take assessment of your oxygen mask so you can attempt to help those around you. In the end, everyone will be able to breathe easier.

 

oxoxo - Jessica Cifuentes, Colearn Education Specialist 

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