We’ve all heard it a million times: put on your oxygen mask first before helping others.

Blah, blah, blah. Right? Well, hang on… 

We keep hearing it because it’s TRUE. This morning I was reminded of why.

Last night I went out.
On a school night.
To a pub. WOOP!!

This is super rare for two reasons:
1. I live in Geneva, where a babysitter can cost anywhere from $15 – $25 per hour (roughly the same in Swiss francs). So I think long and hard before going out as we have no family around to look after the girls because all outings have a financial impact.

2. I’m solo-mumming right now so there’s no backup to get the small humans up and moving in the morning. Sleep is at a premium.

I went to meet two friend I hadn’t seen in a very long time.We watched a local improv troupe called The Renegade Saints, and I laughed until I cried. I had SO MUCH FUN. It was brilliant. I filled up my cup and took loving care of myself by imbibing mirth and joy. All was going well until this point. 

BUT then I shot myself in the foot (metaphorically of course). When I got home I mindlessly turned to FB and Instagram (erm… hello addiction) and then chatted a little with my husband who’d been on various planes for nearly 24 hours and still had miles to go before he slept. By the time my brain and body screamed loud enough for me to hear, it was 1:00. In the morning.

(see point 2 above for why this is a very, very bad thing)

This is where my choices started affecting others. I slept through my alarms, woke the girls super late, *cheerfully* announced they’d be eating breakfast IN THE CAR and would go to school without brushing their teeth (wheee!!!) and raced us all through lunch and other prep.

Miraculously we were only three minutes late for school – but about 15 minutes later than we like to be – and we had no accidents along the way. I don’t yet know whether there will be a consequence for their late arrival for a second time this week.

But I DO know this: my not sleeping enough and not taking good, loving care of myself had the following ripple effects on the people around me. There are probably a few more that I don’t know about yet but for starters:

  • the girls had almost no time to get ready this morning
  • they had to eat in the car and couldn’t brush their teeth (look away, dentist friends)
  • their day started off a little stressed
  • the dog didn’t get fed until much later than usual
  • at least one class probably had to wait for one of my small humans so they could go to their race training
  • the person I was supposed to meet for a regular appointment suddenly had an unexpected free hour (maybe a good thing, maybe not)
  • the lovely cleaner who keeps our house from descending into chaos had to rearrange her whole routine so I could nap in the morning
  • I didn’t get any of the work done that I had planned, thus falling behind in work a little more

None of these are life-changing. I get it. But if I keep not taking better care of myself and these become everyday realities, they could become life-changing. Which I definitely don’t want.

There was a time not so long ago when I would have beaten myself up about this and pushed through.
But not this morning.
This morning I was curious.
This morning there was a lot of “hmmm, ok…” as I noticed my behaviours and choices.

And then I chose kindness. I chose to cancel my appointment despite what the person I was meeting may have thought (still niggling at me). I chose to have a nap despite the mind monkeys telling me I should tough it out. I chose to postpone my morning run until a day when I feel less destroyed.

At no point did I berate myself. But I made myself this promise: I WILL make different choices. Choices that feel better in my body, heart, mind and family.

Starting right now.

Things like: less phone time. Less social media (challenging because social media is how I run my business). More sleep. More movement. More grounding. And I’ll keep having fun, but balancing it with rest and nourishment.

Even though I know in my heart, brain and bones that taking care of myself is GOOD for everyone around me, sometimes I need a reminder of what happens when I don’t: other people in my life are negatively affected. And that’s not ok with me.

They don’t deserve to suffer in ways big or small, and neither do I.

So here’s to smarter choices, with love.