Parenting Blog

Practicing The Parenting Self-Care I Preach

We’re instructed to do it every time we fly.

In the unlikely event cabin pressure is lost in flight, affix your own oxygen masks before assisting others.

The benefits of this are obvious but not something we parents would naturally do first, not without the stern yet friendly reminder while taxing to the runway.

A parent’s gut reaction is to care for their children straightaway and while that’s admirable, we are of no use to our family if we’re not around beyond that particular flight segment. This is as true of our physical presence as it is of our emotional readiness. Flight attendants get it. Why then do we not take their advice in our normal life some 36,000 feet below the clouds?

We need oxygen. We need a place to take in deep breathes that might fan a fire in our bellies.

In some circles, it’s a controversial claim to say that you were a person before becoming a parent and to go on to say that that person should not, under any circumstance, be lost.

Your professional and/or passionate life must not be extinguished upon becoming a parent. In doing so you are not only robbing yourself of a full life but also robbing your child of knowing, witnessing and deriving joy from observing their parent be whole and joyful.

Many say that your life must orbit your child upon becoming a parent.

My god that’s an awful notion.

I believe strongly in parenting self-care, in the sky and on the ground. And I practice what I preach. Remaining full, joyous, passionate adults makes us better people, partners, and parents.

Spending time, energy and money to further our own interests, sometimes away from our partners and children, is not, therefore, a selfish act but an act of love. Love for yourself and love for your family.

Keeping the flame ablaze, alone, in London, watching my favorite sport live and in person.

Whether you escape to the garage to work on rebuilding an old car or to bang out some songs with your mates, or fly to England alone to watch football, you will miss and be missed while away but you will return energized, with more of yourself to give to those you love and who love you.

In the middle of last month, I landed in London to begin a nomadic 5-day English football journey down, up and all over the country. There were no children with me. No spouse either. The adventure was mine and mine alone. The oxygen, mine and mine alone.

Five matches, a stadium tour and drive-by parking lot visits to 20 additional football grounds from the Premier League to League Two is how I chose to spend my time away from family.

Reduced down like a pan sauce of the dinners I didn’t make that week, I essentially chose to visit centuries-old buildings in the Midlands, Yorkshire, and in Lancashire too, bundled up in so many layers, and in the cold rain of an English winter, over spending time with my kids and my wife.

I put my own oxygen mask on first so that I could breath, and so that I would be of better use to them for longer.

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