Our apartment is small. It is bigger than our last apartment (a basement apartment), but it can still feel cramped, especially with two active children. With nap and meal times, it sometimes feels like we are inside all day long. My natural claustrophobia comes out and I panic.
To remedy this, I started running. On those days when Ben is not home in the mornings, I slide my feet into my beautiful, new running shoes, slather sunscreen all over the kids and me, strap the kids into the jogging stroller, and head out on a run through the beautiful, tree-lined streets of my town.
The brief respite from our hot, stuffy apartment rejuvenates me and my children.
The best–and important–part of my run is why I participate. I don’t exercise to lose weight or even to be healthy, although these are excellent benefits as well, I run because it energizes me, giving me back a part of myself that I forgot existed. I need freedom. Time to think without distractions. An hour to forget about the daily bustle of my life, and clearly reflect of my spiritual and intellectual pursuits.
In an airplane, the flight attendant will remind passengers of what to do in an emergency. For parents or guardians, they give special instructions, “Put your oxygen mask on yourself first, and then place it on your child.” The reasoning is simple, to protect your child, you must protect yourself. If you fail to secure your own mask, you might not be there to help your children through the real emergency.
In an analogous manner, for me to encourage my children to have good mental health, I must ensure that my own mental health is in order. Too often I expend all my energy on my children and neglect to attend to my needs. My spiritual, physical, mental, and intellectual needs. I come up with excuses, noble excuses to be sure, and allow myself to fall deeper into the self-made pit of despair. I woke up one morning and realized I no longer had excuses. My workout did not need to be in the early morning, causing loss of sleep, or happen daily, causing stress. In fact, I could run when I felt like it. And I did, do.
This post is inspired by Bigger Picture Moments.