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Putting on Your Oxygen Mask

English: In-flight safety demonstration on boa...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia – Public Domain)

Flight attendants are always stressing the need to put on your oxygen mask before assisting your child.

It’s one of those instructions that you just don’t want to listen to. You want to help you child first. But the reality is, the flight attendant is right.

You’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask first in order to best assist your child.

It’s the same in life. We need to put on our figurative oxygen mask first in order to be best equipped to help others. If we’re neglecting our health through lack of sleep, lack of consistent exercise, a poor diet, and generally not taking the time to de-stress, we’re doing not only a disservice to ourselves, but also to those around us.

I can visualize your heads nodding in agreement. Mine is.

But the question remains: Is your oxygen mask on?

Women in particular tend to look after others at the detriment of their own health. It must be that mothering instinct kicking in. Life can begin to take priority over caring for ourselves.

I know the feeling.
I know the pit holes.
And I know I’ve fallen right into them.

Working full-time, tutoring our twin sons through their senior year of high school, and taking on added responsibilities when my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer meant that life simply took over. 

Looking after self took a backseat to more pressing duties. There seemed no way to put the oxygen mask on first. I was too busy juggling everyone else’s oxygen masks.

At first I didn’t see it. It was just survival. As time went on I saw the detrimental side to the situation—but not the remedy. I knew I needed to make changes for my own health, but the when and how eluded me. I waited for a break in the cycle. I waited for an opportunity for change.

It finally came. As I saw the end in sight with tutoring our twin sons, I began to plan. Finally, the last of the assignments was submitted. We wait for graded papers to be returned. We wait for the long-awaited diplomas. And suddenly I’ve gained an extra few evenings a week. It is a liberating feeling.

It’s time to put on the oxygen mask. It is time to start taking deep breaths.It’s time to fit in looking after myself in order to better help the family—and quickly, before life fills in all the gaps again. A plan has been put in motion.

♦  A healthier diet has been implemented. 

♦  My pathetic twice-a-month (if that!) exercise routine has been replaced by an exercise plan averaging three to five times a week.

♦  With an annual physical several months away, goals have been set to lose weight and improve my overall health before that date.

So there. I’ve said it. I have admitted it. I have verbally committed myself to healthier habits. I have verbally committed to keeping my oxygen mask on.

What about you? Is your oxygen mask on? Are there changes you need to make? Admitting it is usually a pretty good start. Are you ready for a change? Let me know in the comments! Admit it—and in doing so, commit yourself.

If you’re a writer, do I dare challenge you to put your oxygen mask on before you make greater commitments to write? It stands to reason that a healthier you will result in a more effective and creative writer. Take up the challenge today!


I am a pastor’s wife, former missionary, mother of four great sons, and author of three Christian suspense novels: Betrayed, Identity Revealed, and A Murder Unseen. (Available at: Amazon.com.) I have a passion for God, my family, and writing! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Have a question? Email Me!

  1. June 28, 2012 at 10:01 am

    While I do see a lot of women making sacrifices (I still do anything my son asks me!), I have carved out a wee little bit for myself. I’ll admit, the exercise thing…I get so lazy about that. Must re-commit!

    • June 28, 2012 at 10:43 am

      I figure I’ve got to try this re-commitment while the weather is nice and it’s easier to do so! Hopefully, by the time snow flies, it’ll be second nature. 🙂

  2. June 29, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Thanks for posting such an important message. I have three kids and am self-employed, so it’s easy to put everything else first. I have to say, though, that doing karate for the past 7 years has been not only of physical benefit to me, but also the camaraderie and mental exercise have helped keep my spirits up. I’m meeting with a friend at Curves next week to start using their new nutrition program. Can’t wait! A happy me, means a happy family 🙂

    • June 29, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Sounds like you’re already on the right path—and just tweaking it with the nutrition. Congrats! Keep it up! You’re so right. A happy mom makes for a happy family. 🙂

      • June 29, 2012 at 10:39 am

        Thanks Rosie. Took a long time to get here. My friends and I came to realize that with filling every one else’s cup, ours became empty so adding in ‘girlfriend time’ became an essential ‘cup filler’ for us.

      • June 29, 2012 at 10:56 am

        Girlfriend time? What’s that? I think mine comes in the form of phone calls, but yes, I should learn to fit that in somewhere too! Eventually. One step at a time. 🙂

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