Mindfulness Monday: "First put on your own oxygen mask before helping others."

Anyone who has been on an airplane with kids has received this obligatory instruction from the flight attendants.  Not only is this simple instruction important for air travel, it's an important metaphor for life, especially for parenthood.   

I know, too well, that finding time to take care of yourself when you have a family can seem daunting at times (for some) and all the time (for others).  But I promise, finding time for you is just as critical for your health and well-being as the oxygen that you breathe- and it's actually vital to the health of your kids, too.  

A few tricks to make sure you take care of yourself daily:

  1. Start small.  Identify some simple things that make you happy and that you could easily (or at least, more easily) build in to your daily routine.  Then, write them down. Some examples from my personal list: watch the sunrise/sunset, take ten minutes for a guided mindfulness practice, a coffee/tea break, a quick walk around the block or do some simple stretching. Everyone's list will be different- what's on yours?
  2. Schedule your time in advance and stick to the schedule. For me, first thing in the morning works well because then no matter what happens for the rest of the day I've already done something to take care of myself (and when I'm able to squeeze in more time in throughout the day, it's a bonus).  So I set my alarm 20 minutes earlier (ehh, you know how much I value sleep) because without a schedule that I'm committed to, frankly, it's much less likely to happen.
  3. Be present.  While taking time out for yourself, it's tempting to let your mind wander off to think about past conversations, all the things that you still need to do or fix, or a million other things. When you notice that happening simply bring yourself back to the present moment by observing with your senses.  Try to bring your awareness to your breath or sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or physical/emotional feelings and enjoy the moment.  It's yours and you deserve it!