Every parent makes a parenting mistake now and then. You yell at your kids, forget to do something really important, not listen when you should–the list is endless. But one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a parent actually has nothing to do with your kids. It has to do with YOU.
Every time I fly I hear flight attendants give directions for using the oxygen mask, and every single time, they instruct parents to put the mask on themselves first, then on their kids. Those instructions may seem, at first, to be a bit selfish. But they are actually not. You see, you can’t help your child if you’re not breathing!
The oxygen mask instructions should be applied to parenting too. As parents, you must learn to take care of yourself so that you can care for your child. You can’t help your child be healthy if you are not working on being healthy yourself. Another way of saying it is this: in order to truly invest in your kids, you must invest in yourself.
I raised 3 kids. Three very busy, athletic kids. It was very easy to get caught up in their lives and forget to take care of myself. But finding time to invest in yourself, to properly care for yourself is a must if you are going to raise healthy kids.
There are lots of ways to “put on your oxygen mask,” but one of the most important first steps is to build a solid support system for YOU. And let me just add that this idea of building your support system is for both men and women. Dads and moms both need supportive people in their lives.
Everyone’s support system will look different, but here are some suggestions of the basics that you should have in yours:
Supportive friendships. You may be surrounded by “friends”, but how supportive are they, really? Be sure that you are seeking out those 1,2, or 3 friends that know you, support you and speak positive truth into you.
A support group. Whether it’s a group at your church, in your neighborhood, or a more official group that supports while it teaches you something, this is another way to build your support system.
A mentor. Maybe you know an older mom or dad who you admire or who you’ve connected with. Seek them out to learn from them and listen to their wisdom. Or maybe your mentor is someone on a podcast that you listen to regularly.
One of my mentors is my older sister. The wisdom and perspective she share with me from being a few steps ahead of me in life are so encouraging to me.
Get coaching or counseling. Let me take a minute and distinguish between the two.
Counseling is often conducted for the use of revisiting one’s past and finding healing from his or her wounds.
On the other hand, Coaching is a helpful method that looks to the future. Coaching is for people who want to see improvement and good change in their lives. Rather than healing from the past, Coaching looks forward and asks the question, “How can we improve your lifestyle and meet your goals?” You may need both at various times in your life.
As a parent, you may need to address hurts from the past. Please don’t ignore the issues. There is freedom in confronting the past and working to get healing. It won’t be easy, but it will make you healthier and, as a result, your kids will be healthier too.
As a parent, you may also need to work through frustrations you are having now, or maybe there some things you want to change or do better in your parenting. A life coach or a parenting coach can help you do that. (I’m a parenting coach and I’d love to help you, please schedule a free 15-minute call here).
Go back to school. Even if it’s only one class and even if the class is not working towards any specific degree. Pick a class about something you love, or something you’ve always been interested in. It will invigorate you emotionally and mentally.
Schedule time for self-evaluation. Whether it’s once a day, week or month, set aside some time to ask yourself some key questions: What grade would I give myself when it comes to parenting? In what areas does my child need extra attention? What do I need to change so that I’m actually working towards raising kids who are champions–compassionate, trustworthy, strong and full of integrity?
I like to encourage parents to not just “wing it” when it comes to their parenting. Your kids will be the biggest contribution you will make to this world, so take the time to be sure you are working towards the goal of what you’d like them to be when they grow up. It won’t “just happen;” you’ve got to have a plan.
So the challenge I’d like to put before you, parents, is this: What’s your oxygen mask look like? Are you taking care of yourself and working on being healthy so that you can help your children become healthy? Don’t make the mistake that could affect your children for life–take time to wear your mask!
Would you like to raise kids that are strong enough to stand on their own? Confident enough to make good choices? Compassionate enough to really care about people? Independent enough to fight for themselves even when you’re not around? I’d like to invite you to learn more about my 6-session coaching program The Parenting Toolbelt.
For a free introductory coaching call, click here.