The familiar preflight ritual contains a word of wise counsel: put on your own air mask first, the announcement says, before trying to help another person.
Figuratively speaking, it's a statement that could also be applied to child care. In order to take care of others well, you've first got to take care of yourself.
In this post, let's apply that reasoning to a consideration of things you can do for your own wellness and renewal, so that you can be fully present for the joys and demands of raising your precious kids amid the challenges of a breakup with the other parent.
Acknowledging the demands of parenting
At first glance, it might seem a tad selfish to not immediately sacrifice yourself for your kids. After all, like Atticus Finch towards the end of To Kill a Mockingbird," you may very well feel like they're all you've got.
You may be especially feeling this is after a divorce. It's perfectly normal to experience feelings of guilt about what your kids have to go through now.
But let's be real and acknowledge that parenting isn't always familial sweetness and light. Toddler tantrums and teenage traumas are tough. It can be a long, hard slog getting your kid to age 18 and beyond - and if you're not careful you can burn yourself out on the way.
Indeed, the stress of parenting may well have contributed to your breakup with the other parent. Researchers have now shown that marital satisfaction generally falls following the birth of children.
Talking time for yourself
So here you are now, trying to move forward after a split with a spouse or unmarried partner with whom you share custody of kids.
Counselors and psychologists will certainly tell you how important it is find ways to nurture yourself, so that you can find the sources of renewal needed to also care for others.
What those sources are for you depends of course on your personal interests. It might be making time for SEC football every Saturday, or seeing every play of every game of your favorite NFL team. It might be doing yoga, going fishing or taking a walk in the woods.
Whatever the things are that give you solace and joy, you need to keep doing. You need to do this despite, or even because of, the pain of divorce or separation.
Think of it as like putting on your air mask, before putting one on your child. Even if the flight of your marriage or relationship has gone down, you can keep breathing and land gently, as if floating down to earth in a parachute. And you can help you kids survive and land gently as well.
Your lawyer's role
As you go through the divorce process, you will also need trusted legal counsel. Keep doing these things that give you joy. But also be sure to talk over your situation with an experienced attorney so that you can take the legal steps needed to build a better future for your family.