It’s said so often in church leadership circles that it’s almost cliche. Like the flight attendant often reminds us, “put your oxygen mask on before assisting others.” Those in full-time ministry are chronically guilty of helping others before they take care of themselves. I’ve seen a number of colleagues burn out because they put everyone else first.
As my husband and I adjust to the radical life change of having our first child, I’ve noticed how quickly I stopped taking care of myself. In the first several weeks, I was lucky if I got a shower by 4pm. I tried to sleep when she was sleeping but that’s easier said than done. The mail man often brought boxes to our door and he probably tired of seeing me in my robe at 3pm. But I was just trying to survive each hour of being a brand new parent.
Last week, we had several bad mornings because I didn’t make time to take care of myself first. We’d wake up and were off and running. I found myself overwhelmed and frustrated. So I sat down with my husband and we decided to try a new morning routine. I would feed her around 6am while Aaron showered. Then I’d eat breakfast and shower while he took care of her before leaving for work at 7:30. I even had a few minutes to watch the news and check email. This small change of making sure I had time to myself in the morning made a HUGE difference in how Isabella and I interacted the rest of the day. I was able to focus on her needs and enjoyed caring for them in a deeper way. Because I wasn’t trying to make her sleep so I could get things done, I was able to follow her cues and do what she needed at the time.
Whether you work outside the home, attend school, are retired or raise children at home, are you taking care of yourself first? When you treat that time as sacred, your family, friends and community get the best of you the rest of the day.