Your life jacket

I love how Irish women, and men too of course, of a certain age wave goodbye with a ‘mind yourself.’ How lovely that after chatting to a friend on the street that you haven’t seen in ages to remind them, almost subconsciously, to mind themselves on parting. Wherever you go friend, make sure that you’re looking after yourself, till we meet again, adieu, take care, mind yourself. And how important it is to do, to mind ourselves that is.

I discovered this code among mothers at a young age standing by my mothers skirt-tails. It would take an age to get home from school as we’d always be stopped chatting at some point with our mammy and a neighbour. They’d chat, sometimes whisper, gossip, complain, tear up over the everyday wear and tear of life and on leaving one or the other would utter the reminder to ‘mind yourself.’ Yes, dear friend, in the daily furore of minding children, running about, cleaning, caring, hanging washing, loving, working, cooking; mind yourself.

I consider myself a bit of authority on the subject of minding myself considering that

  1. I’m the mother of three young sons (sorry boys)
  2. I frequently find myself running on empty pleading for five minute’s peace.

It’s that feeling when you have fed the children, washed them, dressed them or pushed them to dress themselves, switched off the tv, changed a second nappy, pushed them out the door, heard them say they’re hungry again all before you’ve had your own breakfast, shower or moment to yourself. But I just fed you? But I haven’t even eaten myself. Ah, now you’re being a martyr. And before you knowing it you’re shouting or bursting for a break or stoically getting on with it. What to do?

So, to the best piece of advice I have ever received as a mother;

Put on your own life jacket first. Yes, the air-hostess standing in front of you imaginarily pulling on an inflatable life jacket said it first. In the case of an accident, in the scramble to survive, put your own life jacket first. But of course. It makes sense doesn’t it? You can’t save them until you’re safe yourself. You’ve got to mind yourself first. Even in the less dramatic everyday situations when you’re not considering getting safely from an airplane, we’ve got to consider putting our own selves, sanity, safety first in other to mind the chizlers. Easier said than done says you.

And God be with the days when taking a break meant going out with the girls or a day at the spa. Since having the children, the bar has lowered somewhat significantly. And come on, you know me now, I still have the lovely days out but breaks are often less scheduled while the need for a break has increased significantly. So I’ve had to make my own list of emergency breaks that means that I escape albeit momentariy from the craziness of motherhood and domesticity. Needs must. So in no particular order, my break in case of emergency box includes;

  • A cup of herbal tea (when I’ve had my limit of coffee)
  • A run (if it’s a half an hour I’ve got)
  • Chocolate (for serious breaks; alas they’re frequent)
  • A phonecall to a friend (sounds like my one phonecall from a cell)
  • A chapter of a book (I’ve always read, since having children, I’m a real polymath)
  • A walk through a field (there’s no shortage of those)
  • Apply handcream (there’s always a tube somewhere)
  • Toilette, (yes, when I’m destressing, I cleanse, tone and moisturise, quietly in my room, closing my door to that madness beyond)
  • That lovely glass of really nice wine after their bedtime, need I say more?
  • Meditation, I have an app for that!
  • Laughter, seek out some laughs, radio, audiobook, call to my mother
  • Write, this blog was born out of my need to mind myself when I was heavily pregnant while busy with two other little boys on a busy dairy farm.

There are a lot more beside but these are my go-to breaks when I’ve had it, I’ve folded one t-shirt too many, stopped too many little boy arguments, buttered too many bread and jam sandwiches without a pause of my very own. Nobody schedules those breaks, alas, so we have to make sure and take those breaks for ourselves.

In other words, my friend, mind yourself.

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2 thoughts on “Your life jacket

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