Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

I’ve been on hundreds of plane trips in my almost 45 years. Hundreds…maybe more. For work, for pleasure for family. Lots of planes. My first one was at about 3 months old when my parents decided that Australia would be a better place to raise their newborn than smoggy London town. But I don’t remember that plane trip. So I probably slept through the safety demonstrations. In fact, I still sleep through those. Which is why I still don’t know how to put my oxygen mask on first.

They tell you to put your oxygen mask on before helping others. This is so you don’t put yourself in danger as you forget about your own needs and focus on the needs of others. Focusing on the needs of others first is a common practice for women. Not all women and not only women…but a lot of women. And many mothers. As mothers we seem to have an inbuilt nurture function that means we feel compelled to attend to life and home (family and house) before ourselves. And it is so easy to leave ourselves off of our own ‘to do’ list. So so easy.

I run out of oxygen frequently and it’s my own fault. I let it run out. I’m the one that puts every other bloody thing before myself. Housework, errands, grocery shopping, meal planning, cooking, working, mothering, wife-ing (which is effectively being a personal assistant!), even the bloody cat needs medication and food before I’ve made my morning coffee. My day gets jam packed with close to nothing that’s all about me and before I know it I’m gasping for breath and on a downward spiral to a depressive episode.

It’s actually hard work to put yourself first. It means planning and some level of structure or routine to your day. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s hard if you want to be flexible and still respond to the needs of others. My single biggest challenge at the moment is getting out of bed at 6am. This would mean I would quite literally put myself first in the day and spend about an hour with just me to worry about before my day’s to do list takes over. My 3 year old can now toddle out of bed and get her own breakfast (don’t worry…she’s not making eggs and bacon, it’s just Weetbix and milk folks!) and she’s known how to work an iPad since she was a week old. She is a genius.

So why don’t I get out of bed when my alarm goes off at 6am? Why don’t I take a deep breath of oxygen before the day starts? I’m tired. I’m old. It’s cold. I’m full of excuses. I used to do really well at getting up early. In my life BHC (Before Husband & Child) when my life truly was just about me, I had no problem kick starting my day. But now that I have all these other responsibilities in my life, that of course make life fuller and wonderful and all that shit, I just want a bit more sleep.

Maybe I just need to reprogram my mind and self-talk to convince my lazy backside that exercising, moving, stretching or reflecting first thing every day is actually better than an extra 60 minutes in bed.

Yep – mind over matter and oxygen mask on first. I’m going to get right on that…just as soon as I drop my child to daycare and get some milk and bread…oh, and I think we’re out of Dijon mustard …and did I see some branches that need trimming back from the letterbox, the postman would appreciate it if I attended to that…but I’ll need to drop the garden shears in for sharpening, which I can do after the shops, but I should probably sort a few things out the garage when I get the shears out, because it’s a mess too…oh and…


25 thoughts on “Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

  1. Another great read and so true!! Taken me years to put myself first and sometimes I still fail but I’m way ahead of where I was 18 months ago. And life is so much better for everyone when I am putting myself first.

    • Thanks Anna! It’s so hard to change the habits of not thinking about yourself first – especially when kids are involved! I agree with you – things are better when we put ourselves first.

  2. Do you and Sam coordinate to make sure you cover all the issues? Because between you, you always nail it! Needed this reminder today. Love your work. Hope you managed to find ‘you’ time today!

  3. Good read! Yes so true we never put ourselves first. I get up at 4am so I can have my workout time but I put the washing on before I start. Hopefully one day we will all wake up and do something for “just me”
    Thanks Kim

  4. Oh Kim, that resonated with me so much.
    You are living my life and using the same excuses as me! Just another minute sleep is one less I am thinking about when I will ‘make time’ for exercise

  5. I literally think about something and then you blog it, it’s so great what you write and so relatable thanks Kim ?

  6. Awesome blog again Kim.

    I’m actually a Flight Attendant so love this piece. I am also a single mum to 2 boys so totally get the me time need. That’s why I love my job – go to work for a paid break.


  7. I only now, also started to put myself first!!
    Love these types of Blogs….

    Great reminder of what and what NOT to do!! Thanks!

  8. Fabulous read Kim and so dam true! When will we ever learn. 3 kids on my own. Baby steps will get me there! ?

  9. July 4, 2014 I told my family I was going to be selfish. I wanted to lose 15-20kgs and in order to do that I put a new house rule in place – F.I.F.O
    Fit In or F&ck Off
    For them it was a matter of eat my food or starve, allow me 1 hour per day to exercise and No eating out….
    Guess what?! They towed the line and we are all happier….
    Best thing ever xox

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