Any professional whose primary responsibilities include caring for the needs of others is usually accompanied by wonderful relational benefits. These same occupations can be very emotionally and physically draining and require a plan for refueling. As we all know, motherhood has twenty-four-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week responsibilities.
While there are no designated days off, vacation time doesn't seem to be addressed in the job contract either. If we don't take some time for ourselves, if we don't arrange for a day off here or there or if we don't take an evening for ourselves, we will find ourselves in a hole that is difficult to climb out of. We may lose our perspective or even consider reentering the paid workforce just to keep our sanity. As a woman in the profession of motherhood, you must learn how to take care of yourself. No one has built that into your job description and no one is going to set boundaries for you. You have to do it yourself.
As moms, too often we work sacrificially and selflessly to the detriment of our family life. It is then that we become short-tempered, judgmental and even jealous of those who have more freedom in their lifestyles. We find ourselves discouraged with the daily duties of a job that never feels finished. We begin to question the value of what we're doing and our self-worth. To combat such reactive emotions, we need to be proactive in caring for ourselves.
Have you ever been on an airplane and listened to the instructions about using the oxygen masks in an emergency? The flight attendants always give special instructions to those traveling with children: Put your own oxygen mask in place before you place the mask on your child. Those directions seem to go against our very nature. Our first inclination is to take care of that child even if it means sacrificing ourselves. But when we stop to consider the reasoning behind the instruction, it makes sense. If we don't take care of ourselves first, we might not be able to help either one of us and we might both perish in those few precious moments. If we put our mask in place first, we are then in a position to care for others.
The same principle applies at home. We must first take care of ourselves in order to properly take care of others. This will give us the stamina, patience and perspective needed to care for the needs of others over the long haul.
Do you have someone in your family who insists on driving the car on gas fumes when the gauge is registering empty? It seems every family has one member who pushes it to the limit. Well, each one of us has an emotional fuel tank. If we don't take time to fill our tank, if we push ourselves to the limit, sooner or later we will find ourselves "out of gas." Stranded. Stuck. Ineffective.
When we're broken down along the road, someone else has to come take care of us. By that time, it takes more to fill us up. If we're proactive, we do something to fill up while we can still pull up to the gas pump.
Moms are always taking care of others, but we have to make sure that in the whirlwind of life we're taking care of ourselves as well. There are three personal areas we need to care for: body, mind and spirit. Do you know how each of these is drained and filled? To keep our lives balanced, we need to evaluate these areas regularly and place emphasis on keeping our tanks filled as we do the job God has called us to do.