A Lesson From the Flight Deck

January 9th, 2010

This one’s for the mommies…

I heard the best thing on a flight this morning. No, it wasn’t about free peanuts or moving about the cabin. Or surprise complimentary Bloody Marys (which didn’t happen).

“Please remember to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others.”

Apropos, as I was on my way to visit a friend recently thrown into a universe of no sleep, unkempt hair, long-lost pedicures, missed meals. You know, The World According to Mom. Welcome, my dear friend.

This phrase elicited a response from me (a silent one, of course…who yells out in the middle of a flight these days?): Am I not a bad person if I help myself first?

The answer, in some cases, is surprising—no.

We moms often find ourselves the last do things. The last to eat lunch. The last to go to bed. The last to do something we enjoy. I’ve often found myself standing at the door half-dressed, while everyone else is putting on coats to leave the house. Why we’re never the last one to get up in the morning, I don’t understand.

Putting ourselves last doesn’t serve us (or those around us) well. A woman disheveled, exhausted and stressed because her own needs haven’t been met, is a woman who doesn’t do anyone any good. There’s that oxygen mask analogy. Help yourself first, so you’re healthy/alert enough to help others.

It’s natural for us to put others’ needs in front of ours. That’s what moms do. Not always the best plan. Am I suggesting you bag a playgroup for a manicure? No. But there’s a happy medium between giving to others and giving to yourself. There’s nothing wrong with TLC for you from you.

Have Fun…Your Way

I love rollerblading. So when my daughter was born, I invested in a jogger stroller. Now we rollerblade together. If you there’s something you like to do, do it. Fit it in. Like reading? Go to the library (ah, silence). If that’s not in the cards, try audio books during car rides. The spoken word might be soothing to you both. Motherhood isn’t a reason to give up hobbies. You were a woman before you were a mother.

Be Active.

Staying active doesn’t just mean running after a toddler, although that is a workout. I mean walking, running, going to the gym, yoga. Our daughter was introduced early on to daily walks. It was a non-negotiable part of our day. There are ways to keep in shape—some with the baby (Mommy & Me Yoga), some without (read: gyms with childcare).


How many days have I forgotten breakfast? Oh, wait. Scratch that. I have it every day. It’s called coffee. You make sure your child has healthy meals all day, why do you skimp on yours? Eat five small meals for the energy to take care of your family. And water bottles. Fill them. Use them.


Never underestimate the power of a spa trip. Get your roots done. A pedicure. A massage. Just relax, feel beautiful and forget that the grocery shopping needs to be done (it can wait), the laundry is in the dryer (it can wait) and you need to pay bills (ok, those can’t wait too long).

Enlist support.

Let your spouse, family and friends know you need some “me” time. They’ll understand. And if they don’t, acquaint them with the saying, “When Mom’s happy, everyone’s happy.”

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5 Responses to “A Lesson From the Flight Deck”

  1. Lia says:

    You must have read my mind. The family went to a birthday party at 1:00 today. I fed my two girls in the morning, gave them a bath, got them dressed and did their hair. My husband only had to get himself ready. By the time I looked at the clock it was 12:00 and I wasn’t dressed. The goal was to be out of the house at 12 for the hour trip. As I was taking a shower, I thought to myself, “How come I never have enough time for me?” Why do I have to rush to put on my clothes or do my hair or make-up? I said to myself that I’m going to start taking my shower 1st. At least I’ll have a little more time for me!

  2. Alisa says:

    I feel lucky that I discovered this concept early on in motherhood. With my twins, the first 2 years were a bit of a blur (understatement), and I didn’t get any time to myself. But in the past 4 years, we have designated Wednesday night as my night. It’s a night where I get out of the house. Take my meditation class. Or now, it’s my dance class. And, on the weekends, my husband and I give each other time to hit the gym. It’s not really a nice to have. It’s a must have — that is, if you want to keep your wits about you.

  3. kerry says:

    this is perfect, as I sit here not feeling well and realized that even though I didnt feel well yesterday, I didnt sit down until after Noah went to bed. Which inevitably led to me instantly not feeling well all over again and having a miserable night. Today I am going to rest and hopefully recoup. thanks for writing these- they put a smile on my face!

  4. Jodi says:

    Great advice – especially the “indulge” part ;-) And after 3 kids, I actually think I might occasionally bag a playdate for a manicure. Definitely for a massage!

  5. Just like the saying…if mom’s not happy no one is happy. Will is mom is not fit and healthy it all trickles down. Thanks for this reminder.

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