Why is it that most moms feel like they are sinning by putting their oxygen mask on first? Is self-care selfish for moms when they have so many other things they should be doing? Maybe they feel like it would be selfish to take care of themselves before taking care of their husband and kids.
I know that I had that mindset for a long time and still struggle with it from time to time. Sometimes I go through our schedule with a fine-tooth comb, making sure that we are doing something of meaning or not watching too much TV.
Is Self-Care Selfish?
Let’s be honest, it’s so easy to just let our kids sit in front of the TV all day so that we, as moms, can have our alone time. To be able to just do whatever we want, whenever we want.
My perfect day is to be able to put in a good movie, not worrying about if it’s G-Rated and enjoying it while I do a favorite craft or hobby. How can I do that when my kids are always with me and needing my time and attention?
How can any mom be there for their children and also avoid losing their identity? When you start to have children, the person you become is “mom”…forever. Or does it?
Being a mom is important, but not at the expense of yourself.
I know it might sound self-centered just thinking that way.
I know that I have trouble with it all the time.
You know that God gave those little ones to be entrusted to your care, and you think that this role is now your end all be all.
What Does It Mean In Self-Care To “Put The Oxygen Mask On First”?
Remember on airplanes, when the flight attendant advises you, in case of emergency, you are to put the oxygen mask on yourself before those around you who can’t do it themselves, like children?
Why do they tell us to do that? Because a child can’t reach to put on their mask, and if something happens to you while you are putting their mask on first, you both are in trouble.
As a mom, you are responsible for one to multiple lives all day long. You are a caretaker, teacher, chef, law-maker, judge, jury, executioner, nurse, chauffeur, maid, etc.
That’s a lot to do for anyone, and it’s understandable to wonder if self-care is selfish.
You are all of these things to them, but what are these things to you? Who are you without them? You are still the same person you have always been before the kids, just molded into what God needs you to be for them in that season.
What if you didn’t have to choose between who you are and being a mom? What if you could be both, at the same time? It’s hard to step out. It’s uncomfortable, especially if you’ve been a mom for more than 3 seconds.
So how do you set your mind to putting your oxygen mask on first? What are some ways that you can take care of yourself, knowing that you are taking care of your children by doing this?
Steps To Understanding That Self-Care Is Not Selfish
Make sure that you are spending time in the Word.
When you wake up just a little bit early or stay up just a little bit late, you are making time for God in your life.
A life without Him, and getting close to Him, is not a life worth living. He is the one who makes everything happen and has control over everything.
When you decide to make time to read your Bible and pray to God everyday, you are setting your day up for success by making Him priority. When you do that, He gives you the right kind of peace that will sustain you.
Make time for your favorite hobby.
For me lately, it’s doing a paint-by-numbers painting. I do that while I watch a favorite show or movie.
My kids are just getting to that age where I don’t have to keep every eye on them. So for me, when they are playing in their rooms, that is when I take an hour to do something that I really love.
If you have smaller children, take their nap time as “me time”, or after they go to bed. Don’t fill it with chores, thinking that that is more important. Instead, fill a small amount of time with something that will make you happy and refresh you.
It’s so easy to think that chores are more important. Don’t get me wrong, chores ARE important, but not at the expense of your sanity. The chores will keep.
And let me let you in on a secret…the chores are never ending anyway! There will ALWAYS be something to clean and there will ALWAYS be clothes to fold. However, finding time for yourself every day will keep you fed.
Find a way to get out of the house by yourself every once in a while.
I have been super blessed to have a husband and parents who make the time to allow me to get out of the house every once in a while without children.
It wasn’t always like that in the beginning for me, and it definitely showed with feelings of depression. My parents didn’t live close and my husband was very busy working a lot.
I know, leaving the house without your kids is easier said than done. You want some space, but then as soon as you leave the house, you miss them. You worry you’ll miss something and think that no one can take care of them as well as you can.
As true as you feel that last part is, I found out that it’s good for them to be left with other people and know that sometimes you need to go somewhere without them.
Mom’s Night Out with my Christian mom friends has been a huge blessing to me as well.
Even though you might not be going anywhere that day, take a shower.
Its very easy to just go about your day, taking care of those kids, and knowing that you are going to get dirty anyway…especially if there are babies still in the house.
A shower is a great way to have a little alone time to yourself, even if it’s just 5 mins, and you’ll come out feeling clean and refreshed. Even feeling clean for a little while is better than going days without a shower.
Believe me, I know. When my kids were babies, I would go days without a shower because taking care of babies is hard and they are always in need. I thought that every moment you have, needs to be devoted to them. It would definitely start messing with my mood.
I started taking quick showers while they were in their cribs and I would bring their baby monitor into the shower with me so that I could still see what was going on. Hey, it gave me peace of mind to still keep an eye on them and also the ability to be clean.
Find grace in letting the TV be the babysitter once in a while.
I know, I know…it’s blasphemy for me to even talk about kids watching TV in these modern times, but just hear me out.
There were times when I felt extreme guilt for letting my kids watch too much TV. You also need to acknowledge the season that you are possibly in.
If you feel like you’re drowning and just need some time, it’s ok for them to watch some TV so that they leave you alone for a little while. It’s not forever and their brains won’t turn to mush.
When you feel like you are out of the drowning season, reign in the TV watching. When I felt like my batteries were charged a bit, I would turn off the TV and sit and read a pile of books with them or go play a game of their choice.
As long as you aren’t ignoring them all day and make time throughout the day for them, they will be fine.
It’s difficult to find time for yourself and not think self-care is selfish for doing so. Believe me, I know. I still feel like that sometimes. But know that it is not forever and it is perfectly normal.
Make time for yourself a priority. It will make you a better person and your kids will be better people knowing that their mommy is happy and joyful.
It hurts the family when you don’t set aside time where you can refresh and find that you are more than just “mom”.
You are an individual, created in God’s image. He took time to rest, and He calls all of us to rest as well.
Take time for Him and talk to Him about putting your oxygen mask on first and understand that self-care is NOT selfish. He will guide you on what is best for you and your family.