Secure Your Own Mask Before Helping Others

“If cabin pressure should change, panels above your seat will open revealing oxygen masks. Please secure your own mask before helping others.” It is a script that seasoned jetsetters could recite verbatim in their sleep. But even though these instructions are disseminated to travelers on daily commercial flights world-wide, the notion of putting ourselves before others seems to contradict our most basic maternal instincts.

Contrary to the aviation regulations, motherhood is an all-consuming role consisting of, but not limited to, endless diaper changes, everlasting snotty noses and a myriad of sacrifices. We sacrifice a good night’s sleep, our ability to fit into size 2 skinny jeans, and a substantial part of our bank accounts all in the name of doing what is best for our children. By putting their needs above our own, we are offering our children more opportunities for growth and enrichment, and perhaps even shaping the minds and hearts of future world leaders.

It’s far too often that we obsess about the minutiae of parenting only to realize that an entire day went by without a single moment of solitude. Maybe your baby refuses to wear his mittens in cold weather, or maybe he ingested some dirt from your neighborhood sandbox. Perhaps your toddler even used the walls of your home to create crayon-based mural drawings. In the grand scheme of things these are only minor grievances, but they distract us from some of the most fundamental basics of healthy living – assuring that our own needs are met and exercising self-compassion. It’s imperative that despite our perpetually demanding role as mothers, we refrain from becoming so narrowly focused on the upbringing of our children that we neglect to take time for ourselves.

Spending time engaging in self-care rituals can sometimes feel selfish and overly-indulgent when there are little ones vying for your attention. You may ask yourself how you can possibly justify a spa day when the kids so desperately need you, but that’s where you’re wrong. Only after we are able to replenish our own spirits do we have the capacity to be fully present and address the needs of our children with authenticity. Denying ourselves of the opportunity to practice self-care habits is like treading water in a rip current and will almost always result in parental burnout.

Self-care is a broad term that encompasses anything we do to maintain our emotional and physical well-being. Practicing meditation, taking a bubble bath, indulging in our favorite meal, or spa treatments are popular self-care activities among some of my closest friends. But so many of us (myself included) often need a reminder to get off the hamster wheel of our chaotic lives and actually do something to pamper ourselves and recharge our batteries.

As a self-professed shopaholic, nothing soothes my soul quite like a quick jaunt around Bloomingdales or any of my other favorite mega retailers. After all, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping! Mindlessly meandering through racks of my most beloved designers is my most preferred way to purge my mind of the chaos of everyday life. Escapism at its best, retail therapy doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Although “comfort buys” certainly put a spring in my step, it’s not always necessary to purchase anything to achieve a similar degree of inner-peace. Window shopping, or what I like to refer to as “research,” is a mood-boosting multi-sensory experience. Running delicate fabrics between my fingers or taking in the fragrance of buttery-soft leather transports me to a place of pure relaxation.

What are some of the things you do to self-soothe?

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 Zadig & Voltaire Joe Keith Boots

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Perfectly Imperfect

As if raising children in today’s world isn’t difficult enough, the modern day mother is also pressured to live up to increasingly unobtainable standards. Thanks to social media and the ease of sharing information online, moms everywhere are subjected to irritating images of Pinterest-perfect birthday parties, picturesque bento boxed lunches of gluten-free, organic, dairy-free meals, and other #momgoals-worthy grandiose exhibits of motherly perfection. Sure, we would all love to be perfect mothers and provide our children with the very best childhoods, but that’s just it – perfection in motherhood is a myth. We hold ourselves to these unrealistic expectations of what our society thinks motherhood ought to be like, thereby almost always setting ourselves up for failure.

Although I may appear put-together and well-rested when you see me on the street, there’s a great probability that I’m actually exhausted and my apartment is littered with broken crayons, Cheerios, and toys strewn in every direction. Usually operating on insufficient sleep, I often find myself fumbling through the day just trying to juggle the needs of two young kids and a mountain of other responsibilities while maintaining some semblance of composure. I applaud moms everywhere who make motherhood seem like a constant stream of cuddles and cotton candy and believe me, I would love to live in a constant state of bliss with my tiny humans. But somewhere along the lines, diaper changes always evolve into exhausting power struggles, fevers and head colds turn into debilitating double ear infections, and I’m usually running on empty by 11am. Home cooked meal? That’s funny! Once the kids are fed, I’m lucky if I have enough energy to order delivery dinner.

I’m not perfect. I MAKE MISTAKES. There, I said it.

Just last week I planned to have my very first movie date with my toddler, an activity that would serve as a welcomed departure from his familiar morning routine of playground, children’s museum or errands with Mommy. We prepared several days in advance by discussing rules for inside the theater, my behavioral expectations, and what kind of snacks we would share. To merely say he was excited is a gross understatement.

As we strolled over to the theater prior to the movie, I was overcome with the delightful anticipation of sharing this new experience with my exuberant little buddy. We approached the box office and suddenly something caught my eye. There it was – a sight so alarming I instantly thought my eyes were deceiving me. “SOLD OUT!”  How could this be? How was I going to explain this to my pint-sized sidekick? “Come on, Mommy! Let’s go! Let’s go!” he squealed as he tugged my arm toward the theater.  I grasped at my thoughts, trying to find the right words to let him down gently. Choose any other movie and we’ll get any candy you want! I’ll buy you a pony! Just please forgive me. I explained that there were no more tickets left and admittedly, I should have planned ahead and bought tickets online. He gazed up at me with his big doe eyes. “It’s ok, Mommy.” And just like that, we walked hand-in-hand to the playground like we had done countless times before.

And then it hit me – I shouldn’t be so frightened of exposing my child to disappointment. After all, learning to cope with letdowns is a necessary skill for becoming a successful adult. This misfortune of having to skip a movie seems rather inconsequential in the scheme of things, but these minor setbacks are actually training our children to confidently overcome life’s challenges down the road. I was so proud of my boy’s emotional resilience and ability to easily bounce back without even so much as a minor meltdown! It was in that moment I realized that despite our botched movie date, this imperfect morning was nothing short of perfect.

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From left to right: Valentino Rockstud Ballet flatsH&M Off the Shoulder TopPrada Sunglasses, vintage Hermes skirt (Similar here – Red Valentino)