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Fit Your Own Oxygen Mask First: Parental Self-Care is More Important Than You Think

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What good can you be to your family, if you’re walking around drained and depleted?

I almost didn’t go. The timing, the money… And then, on the morning I was meant to fly to Sydney for The Art of Silence course, a four day silent meditation retreat, my nearly 4 year old woke up with a fever and a cough. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be mean to go away while she’s not feeling well?” Mega guilt trip.

I asked in one of my mother’s Facebook pages if I should go and there was a unanimous chorus of GO! One of the responses was, “This is a fit your own oxygen mask situation! 

The past six months, I had been grumpy, tired, and snapping at the kids. Stressed from work. About to move houses. Pregnant. You name it. It was only going to get worse if I didn’t do something about it.

When I said goodbye at the airport, the kids were sad. I was sad. Was this *really* worth it???

My friend, Meggan, whom I’ve known for years (she blogs at Megganmama) was there at the airport to pick me up. We were going on the course together. I described to her that I felt like I had been ‘drowning‘ over the past six months. She said she had been feeling the same way and also initially felt guilty about leaving her son with her husband while she did the course.

It didn’t take long after arriving at the course for me to know that I had made the right decision. Guilt trip was over. Food was being cooked for me. I was able to do yoga, breathing, and sit and meditate, UNINTERRUPTED, for hours at a time.

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See this yummy meal? And, I didn’t even have to cook it! *luxury*

So, was it worth it?

Well, the past few days that I’ve been back, I can feel how doing the course has made a big difference. I’ve done the Art of Silence course many times before, so it’s no shock. I’m much more relaxed around the kids. Less anxious when they start acting up. And, not surprisingly, their behaviour seems ‘better‘ because I’m much better! I have more patience and have much more enthusiasm for doing the ordinary: cooking, cleaning, etc. I feel rested and nurtured. I’m also getting along better with my husband. The whole house feels peaceful once again.

So, yes, it was worth it. 1000 times over!



The thing that’s so unique about meditation is that it brings you back to your true nature. We carry so much stress in our system. The stress not only accumulates from big ‘stressful’ events, but it also accumulates through every day life situations. Being stressed, grumpy, exhausted and ready to snap, is not really who we are. It’s not fair for us to exist in this mental state of depletion, and it’s not fair to our families.

One dad, Gavin (the one in the photo), I met on the course had this to say about his experience:

Before the course I was full of impressions and stress – after the course I feel like I’ve come home, reunited with my self. Joy, love and back in the present moment.

As Meggan brought me back to the airport, we both were so content. Feeling whole again. And not regretting at all taking this precious time out for ourselves.

In the past, I’ve usually taken my kids with me (especially when I was breastfeeding), and my husband stayed with us. I was able to see them during the breaks, so it wasn’t too bad. I’ve also done a course while my kids were there and a dear friend looked after them during the sessions. But this, time, they were a little older, so it was easier to go away (thanks to my hubby for making this possible!).

The pre-requisite for doing the Art of Silence course is doing the Happiness Program. Both of these programs are put on by the Art of Living Foundation. I did the Happiness course almost 15 years ago, and the benefits I’ve received from doing the practices are too many to list. I loved it so much that I went on to become a teacher of the program. The Happiness Program is generally a six day course that meets a few hours per day and you can find these courses all over the world. In the Happiness Program you will learn (amongst other things) a powerful breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya. Many people find enormous stress relief and battery recharge from doing this course. There has been a lot of third party research on Sudarshan Kriya, and researchers have found that regularly practicing the breathing techniques taught in the Happiness Course, significantly reduces stress. Improves sleep. Improves the quality of life, and more. The Art of Living courses are fairly inexpensive compared to other courses that advertise the same benefits. But, the Sudarshan Kriya breathing technique is unique to the Art of Living programs.

The Art of Living also has an awesome app, called Sattva, and it’s free! Sattva has free guided meditations, chants, knowledge talks and more, I highly recommend it!

Being a parent is such a challenge at times. When we can recharge our battery, we can act in a way that reflects our true nature. We know the type of parents we WANT to be and the type of parents that we can be, but often our actions are clouded by stress. We react instead of take the right action. By investing a little bit of time in ourselves, we have a greater capacity to be the parents we know we can be.

4 Responses »

  1. I love it! Great post Kate. Loved spending 3.5 days sitting next to you and feeling genuinely undisturbed by your persistent cough.xx

  2. Great Post! Stressed parents are mostly unable to support kids, especially young children, in the way that they really want to. Feel guilty for a weekend away? Try feeling guilty for years of snapping at them and crushing their spirits in little ways that you regret as soon as the words are out of your mouth. Take the very best care of yourself!

  3. So glad to have found your blog, Kate! I literally JUST told 3 mommas this exact concept today — but I LOVE the oxygen mask analogy. I’m actually on a 3-day mom-only vacation. It’s not fancy, but it’s doing wonders. Thanks for the posts!


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