‘In case of an emergency, place the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping small children or others who may need your assistance.’
A simple concept that makes so much sense. You can’t help others for very long if you don’t take care of yourself first. In the present circumstances, this couldn’t be more relevant.
This was the advice explored by Luke S. Kennedy during his highly engaging Mosman Prep ‘Empowering Parents’ and ‘Empowering Senior Primary Boys’ presentations.
In his attempt to ‘turn his life around’ (from one of despair, substance abuse and physical violence - including having his friend die in his arms and being stabbed himself), Luke has read and researched to discover what would help him (and others), flourish and live his best life. His ideas closely align with popular recent research into positive psychology - shifting one’s perspective to a ‘positive mindset’ in everyday behaviours, to maximise the potential for happiness.
In order to be the best we can be as a parent and support to others, it is critical that we take care of our own needs and make sure our ‘bucket is full'. When we are fulfilled, happy and motivated, we can positively guide and support our children and others.
As Luke pointed out, self-care requires digging deep and being honest about what you need and the lines that need to be drawn around those needs. By committing to establishing a self-care routine that works for you, and regularly checking in on your mental, physical and emotional needs, you are more likely to be your best self.
Luke suggested the following:
Breathe. Find yourself a quiet place each day where you will be uninterrupted for at least 10-15 minutes in order to centre yourself and refresh your thoughts. Close your eyes and just breathe.
Set some self-care goals. At its core, self-care is just about giving ourselves a break, both mentally and physically. Keep it simple and goal-oriented. Engage in activities that encourage you to focus on your strengths, rather than your weaknesses.
Words are powerful. They can make a life or break a life, not only when speaking to our kids, family/friends, but also to ourselves. Negative words can create our reality. Part of self-care is learning to step away from our inner critic and rework any negative self-talk.
Put off self-doubt and learn to manage mistakes. We can become powerful role-models for our children when they see us making mistakes and yet remaining positive.
Limit the distractions. This includes the unnecessary use of technology and social media, which causes ‘static’ in our brains and can be incredibly destructive to our mental wellbeing.
Change involves choice. The choice to make small steps to achieve long-lasting positive change.
As parents, ‘self-care’ is not’ self-ish’. It is empowering, and critical to effective parenting and the wellbeing of our children.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10