Just BreathePosted: June 4, 2013
This next post includes nannying/parenting advice from a rather unlikely place (airline announcements), delivered however from a not unlikely source, but from a dear pal of mine, Happy, who, for a time was a nanny herself (In fact she cared for Doc and Rebel before they became my charges).
After a series of overnights for the boys while their folks were gone on a much deserved alone-time vacation, I talked to Happy about how I was sleep-deprived because I kept the monitors right by my head and, me being a light sleeper, anytime the boys moved, coughed, babbled in their sleep, I shot out of bed like a firefighter, ready to get my Supernanny gear on, then, while they drifted back into slumber, I would lay awake until dawn, exhausted all the next day. Happy advised me to turn the volumes on the monitors down, and instead set an alarm for when the boys usually got up. I didn’t know how I felt about this: what if they woke up scared and I was unawares? What if they needed me and I slept through it? To which Happy replied, “It’ll be on low, not mute, and you need to get rest. One night of good sleep will revive you for the weekend ahead. You have to take care of yourself first. It’s like the airline announcement that you should put your oxygen mask on, then help your kid with his.”
And so that night I put monitors on two bars of volume, set an alarm for 6:30, and hit the hay. I woke up the next morning before the boys and made myself tea and breakfast and got the house set up for the days activities. As I readied myself for the day, I stopped to wonder why I had thought twice about stopping to take care of myself. I felt so rested, replenished, and raring to go! The boys awoke, and were greeted by a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Miss Cheryl, starting the day ready to play. I was so glad I took measures to get myself rested; being rundown and exhausted is no way to nanny!
It dawned on me what a valuable piece of advice this is, not just for me, but for all caregivers. Sometimes we worry so much about being present that we fail to realize that our condition in that present is just as important. Kiddos deserve us at our best, and sometimes that means that we must tend to ourselves first. (Now, any Mrs. X’s out there shouldn’t get the wrong idea- constant retail therapy and self-centered behavior doesn’t count!) The oxygen mask rule for caregivers also reiterates what I’ve always known to be true about nannying. Nannies are often the oxygen masks- providing the time for parents to tend to themselves, rest, regroup, so that when they return, they are better equipped to care for kiddos with patience, energy, and understanding. The ability to take time out to care for oneself physically, emotionally, intellectually (to breathe, so to speak) is a necessity and a luxury at the same time. It is something that nannies provide, but at times find necessary themselves! When I find myself overwhelmed and under-rested, I recall this airline adage and take steps to allow myself to just breathe.
Special thanks to my aforementioned “Happy”, Aspen Leach for her unending understanding, and hilarious insight into all things nannying, and in general. Love you!