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“You aren’t doing ‘nothing’ when you choose to put your wellbeing first. In fact, this is the key to having everything.” – Brittany Burgunder



I love analogies. It is a technique for giving over a message in a way that can be easily understood and easily accepted. The trick, however, is finding the correct analogy.

That means staying away from anything political and topics that can be considered controversial. After all, the goal is for the audience to accept the example and agree that it should be connected with your topic.

I often choose analogies that involve sports, finding them to be safer. But there are many other non-controversial topics that can be used to make analogies. Lately I have discovered a number of fascinating analogies involving airplanes, and I’d like to discuss one such analogy in this article.

When traveling on an airplane, the flight attendant will instruct you that in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, you should place the oxygen mask on yourself before you try and help others put their mask on. There is good reason for this. If you try to help someone else get their mask on before you put yours on, there is a possibility that without a mask you won’t have enough oxygen and you won’t be able to help yourself or them – and that will cause the two of you to faint. However, if you first put your mask on, you will be saved and you will also function better while helping the others put their masks on.

Our time, energy and resources are our own personal “oxygen mask.” As parents, we often feel the need to sacrifice ourselves for the betterment of our children. And we are right to do so. But too much of that can hurt us. It can cause burnout, stress, fatigue, reduced mental effectiveness, health problems, anxiety, frustration, and the inability to sleep, just to name a few.

Parents need to remember their own “oxygen mask” and make sure that they can parent at 100% functioning, or even at 85% functioning (from time to time). Less than that, and we have a “low cabin pressure/oxygen mask situation.”

At which point, the parent will need to step aside, and partake in some healthy self-care.

This should not be a source of guilt; just the opposite. It should be taken as a sign that you’re human and modeling correct behavior for your child.

Self-care is about taking care of yourself. It does not mean that you do not care about your children. By making the effort to take care of yourself, you are ensuring that you can better care for your children.

But sacrificing yourself for what you believe is for the betterment of your child isn’t actually for the betterment of your child.

Let’s learn from the instructions of the flight crew and let’s not ignore this very important lesson.

Our oxygen masks go on first.

As award-winning author L.R. Knost writes, “Taking care of myself doesn’t mean ‘me first.’ It means ‘me too.'”

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Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker and certified trauma therapist with a private therapy practice. He also writes and speaks publicly about parenting, communication, cognitive biases and child sex abuse prevention. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and their five children.