Put Your Own Mask On Before Assisting Others

Oct 9, 2018 | Read time: 3 mins

Oct 9, 2018 | Read time:


When Divya reached out to me for a blog post themed “Emotional Well-being”, my first question to her was “Mine? Or Sid’s?”. We both laughed heartily, but on a serious note, I think the emotional well-being of a parent and child go together.

Being a parent to a speech-delayed child, along with my own personality, I’ve had a few “ah-ha!” moments about emotional well-being.

Now given that I’m a consultant, my default is always to make organized bulleted lists. So here are some of my philosophies around emotional well-being, be it for a child or a parent

1. Everyone has good and bad days

Even a child. Let’s give them the room to express their bad moods. Coming from a middle-class Indian family, having a bad mood meant that you were ungrateful for everything your parents have done for you. The truth is simple and has less guilt involved. It is perfectly alright to be cranky every now and then. Allow yourself and your child to express it in a healthy manner. Do not suppress it for it may show up in ugly forms later in life.

2. Take a break

We’re all human and hence are flawed. We lose our tempers and that is only normal. As a parent, I’ve found that the best thing to do in this situation is to walk away from it for 30 minutes (or more!). My husband is quick to take over and allow me some time to myself. Taking a break can also mean indulging in some “me time” regularly. You figure out the right cadence, but allocate regular parent-time for yourself. For me, I like to get some coffee, read a book, get a massage, etc. But this must be alone time – time when you can be just you and not someone’s mom, daughter, wife, etc. And parents, no guilt is allowed during the time. Ignore the dramatic FB posts that tell you that you are a bad parent if you want a mani-pedi. No, you are a great parent for taking care of your own emotional well-being!

  1. This applies to Dads too! I sometimes forget that my husband is sometimes the better, more patient parent. He probably needs a break just as much as I do. My husband gets a “Daddy’s Day Out” once a month where he goes and spends a day in a workshop for calligraphy, bottle cutting, antique shopping, etc.
  1. Okay back to the kids now – As I’ve mentioned before, my almost 3-year-old, Sid, is a little speech delayed. (Before you ask, yes, we are working on it with a group of specialized caregivers). This also means that sometimes he has challenges expressing his frustrations in ways that we can understand. He lashes out by throwing tantrums, or biting. I’ve found on these occasions that taking him out of school for a day and just letting him play all day long has improved his mood. With full-time jobs, many of us can’t spend time day-to-day with our kids in the park. But occasionally, a special treat, outside of the normal routine can really make a difference for little kids.
  2. Co-sleep or not, cry-it-out or not, whatever you’ve decided, is right. The main thing is that your kid needs to know that no matter what they do, you’ve always got their backs (even if it means you scold them a bit first). Emotionally stable adults are those who always could depend on their parents to get them out of a bind. Be that parent.My final thoughts – Personal emotional well-being to me is like those instructions they give you on the flight. “Put on your own mask before assisting others”. That’s right, parents. We do in fact need to take care of our own emotional well-being before we can help our kids. Children are very perceptive and can sense when mommy/daddy is unhappy.So, with that, I stand up and applaud all of you moms and dads who despite their own everyday battles, sometimes, just slap on a big smile for their kids and make everything okay. None of this is easy, but nobody said it would be ?

If I had to use one word to describe myself, it would be “overwhelmed”. I’m overwhelmed with being a working mom, with the unconditional love I get from my sweet boy, and mostly with the support and partnership, I get from my amazing husband. Our loving nuclear family along with our pillars of support, call Bangalore home. We’re fumbling along the parenting journey, making a few mistakes, but mostly enjoying every moment with Sid. Our mantra – to laugh through the good and the not-so-good times.

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