Show of hands – who actually pays attention to the flight attendant when she (or he!) gives the safety demonstration when you board a plane? I think I’m one of the three percent of people who are nerdy enough to do so. Most others seem too busy with their nose buried in the latest 50 Shades instalment, or devouring the mini-sized packets of Pringles. Or if you’re travelling with your children – trying to keep them entertained as they’re already SO BORED!!!, before the plane has even started moving.

One thing I’ve noticed in these demonstrations is they always tell us to “fit your own oxygen mask first, before helping others to fit theirs”. And this totally makes sense right? You’re not going to be much help to someone if you pass out unconscious from lack of oxygen. Thankfully, I’ve never been in a situation where those little masks have dropped from the cabin ceiling – and frankly – I hope I never am.

But it often makes me wonder about how we implement this logic in real-life – particularly as Mums.

We Mums are well-known for putting ourselves last. It happens all the time, it happens in tv shows and movies and it’s universally accepted as a truth. And to be perfectly honest, some of us wear it like a badge of honour. Because it’s when we’re completely selfless and spend all our time doing everything for everyone else, that we’re the best Mum we can be, right?

Wrong.

Completely wrong.

Mum’s need to LOOK AFTER THEMSELVES. And yes, that means that we simply MUST put ourselves first sometimes.

I know running a family is hard work – there’s lots to be done, and a million competing demands on any given day. And I know that taking an hour out of the day for a pilates class or a much overdue waxing session might seem selfish. But it’s actually not.

Let’s think about what happens when we don’t do the things we know we should do for ourselves.

  • If we don’t fuel our bodies with the right kinds of nutritious foods – we get fat and sick – or underweight and sick
  • If we don’t make time for exercise – we get fat and unfit
  • If we don’t get enough sleep – we get tired and grumpy
  • If we don’t prioritise spending time with our own friends and loved ones – we get lonely
  • If we don’t make time for rest – we get fatigued and potentially adrenally exhausted
  • If we don’t take the time to recover properly from an illness or injury – we get sicker or our injury worsens
  • If we let our hormones become disregulated – we get grumpy and emotional
  • If we don’t make time for meditation and reflection – we lose direction and lack inspiration
  • If we do everything for everyone else all of the time – we lose sight of who we are and we get resentful

Now who wants a Mum who is fat, sick, unfit, exhausted, grumpy, lost, uninspired and resentful? More importantly, who wants to BE a Mum who is all of those things? Certainly not me.

The Mum who is fat, sick, unfit, exhausted, grumpy, lost, uninspired and resentful runs the risk of becoming quite unwell and therefore being able to do less for her family in the long run.

But more importantly, this Mum is not putting forward the best version of herself to her children. Ultimately, this is the most significant point. We all want our children to grow up happy, healthy, strong, clever, confident and vibrant. We can help this along by modelling this behaviour. Our children learn so much through observation and role modelling – from the very earliest ages – they are tiny little sponges and they take in EVERYTHING – whether you want them to or not.

So when you take the time to look after yourself – for the sake of your own physical and mental health, you’re setting the best example for your children and encouraging them to look after themselves too. Because eventually, they will have to venture into the big, wide world on their own – without you at their side 24 hours a day. At this point you’ll want to be confident that they can keep themselves well – that they are perfectly capable of fitting their own oxygen masks.