Airplane principle

In parenting, I think it’s important to practice what I refer to as the “airplane principle”.

airplane principle1

You know how in airplanes, the safety video talks about oxygen masks should the pressure drop in the cabin? It always says “adjust your own mask before assisting others”.

airplane principle2

Whilst it might sound very selfish, and counter-intuitive especially to the parents it addresses (who instinctively feel that in such emergencies they should attend to their children first), I have come to realise how much wisdom that simple principle contains.

The logic is straightforward. Make sure you have enough oxygen, so that you are in a better state to help others. Specifically in this case, children probably deal with this situation better than adults, who require more oxygen, and could expire more easily. So self-care so that you can care more for those who need you, is key.

It could be applied in small ways such as eating before your kids if your kids are not hungry at all, and happy to continue with whatever activity they are doing (say playing with their kiddy friends at a friend’s home). Whilst I usually do try to ‘settle them’ before settling my own growling tummy, there is nothing wrong in eating first if you truly are hungry, and they are not.  Then you have more energy, and a better mental state overall, to be patient with them, feeding fussy eaters as necessary without blowing a short fuse (exacerbated by your grumpy-cos-hungry self).

And it could be applied in larger ways too, in a broader sense of day to day life.

This is so important for all mums, but perhaps especially for mums who are with their children 24/7.  Many a time we lash out at our loved ones, feel overwhelmed, that we simply cannot continue, or that we were not made for parenthood.  I think the underlying cause most times is exhaustion.  It is not that we are terrible parents, or lack some innate ability to parent… it’s just sheer weariness that brings us to breaking point.

So as I like to say ”休息是为了走更长的路“ –  因为休息是为了做个更尽责的妈妈,休息不是偷懒,不是敷衍责任。连机器也需要休息,添油,何况是人?如果维修工作不做好,抛锚了,是谁的错?往往得先照顾自己 – 这不是自私,而是负责任。身为母亲,我们有责任把我们最好的一面献给孩子。给于他们的,不应该是精疲力竭,脾气暴躁的我们。之所以我们要刻意的,在情况允许之下,照顾自己。

I read an article recently that made a lot of sense. Whilst it might not be feasible for everyone to take 48-hour vacations every quarter in the year, I think starting small, such as with an entire afternoon per fortnight, will restore our souls and perspectives in unimaginable ways.

As I read it, I felt that those in my situation, who don’t even spend much time on weekdays with one’s children, may not be ‘entitled’ to such rest. But if we look at work as not “vacations” from our children (since strictly speaking they are not, just another platform where our energies are occupied in contributing to the economy and such), then FTWMs also qualify for such time-outs, to recharge, to recontemplate, to refocus.

I’ve heard from Singaporean mums who have done it, taken some time out to just be ALONE, and how changed they felt after that, and how ready to take on their world and all the myriad responsibilities they have in it. Thus far, what I have done (that makes me feel slightly less guilty – where does all this guilt come from?!) is to take leave when I feel that I need to treat myself to a day out. Not everyone has the luxury of doing this, but for those who can, I highly recommend prioritising this, since it is also a gift that will keep on giving, to your family and all around you.

I have always believed that an irritable me is of no good to anyone around me, even if I am physically around. Having a resentful self, present in body but exhausted in spirit, is of less use to all, in contrast to having me for less hours that day, but where I am able to be present and to give of myself wholly.

So dear mummy, carve out some time for yourself, to spend an afternoon walking in the park alone, reading a book in the library alone, doing nothing in particular if that helps you.  Because it is in so doing, it is in prioritising care for your own weary soul, that you can then do full justice to your family.

Facebook Comments

  4 comments for “Airplane principle

  1. December 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Can’t agree more Lyn. As mums, we tend to give so much of ourselves that we can sometimes end up resentful. Lots of mums need to hear this. Thanks for linking up.
    Susan recently posted…Motivational Mondays – Enjoy the PresentMy Profile

    • December 8, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks Susan, hoping more mums strike a balance and cut themselves more slack. It’s a long journey!
      Lyn Lee recently posted…Airplane principleMy Profile

  2. February 23, 2015 at 1:15 am

    Hi Lyn, Happy Lunar New Year !

    this is the context I am still studying !! how much time/space for the ‘me’ is vague / very personal, that making this just myself or my interest’s ‘time’ difficult to compare ( though from personal point of view, I do not need to compare with others if I am taking too much free time/off time ? ) and as you said, if helpers or family support is available @@ my ‘me’ time is now and here, mid-night time, even after a tiring sunday , mid-night Calbee and TV are essential for me. it is interesting, for a wider view, to learn the activities the mums have the context not to be a ‘mum’.

    Whish you and family a happy goat year !!

    Charlotte recently posted…New ArrangementMy Profile

    • February 23, 2015 at 9:19 am

      Hi Charlotte,

      Good to hear from you again! Happy Goat year to you too!

      Sorry to hear about your dad, yes all our parents are aging, which is why we are quite the ‘sandwiched’ generation, having to worry about young and old.

      p.s. Marie Jane’s shoes on your blog are so cute!

      Take care!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge