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…