You go first

You know when you’re on a plane and they tell you that in case of an emergency, parents have to put their mask on first, then help their children put theirs on. Well, it’s pretty much a good rule of thumb for life in general. You have to go first. I can already hear you say, “But, isn’t this a bit selfish?” And my answer to that is “Not at all.” Let’s go back to the plane emergency advice. Say your plane is going to crash – I hope you’ll never be in this situation – and you panic and you don’t listen to the advice. You put your kid’s mask on first. Then you don’t have time to put yours on before the plane… Now what? How can you take care of your child if you’ve passed out? You can’t. Your child is scared out of his or her mind, and there you are, snoozing (I know, you’re not really snoozing, just stay with me here ). So there you are, completely useless for anybody. But you were being a good parent; you put your children first. That’s what every good parent would do, right? Well, what if I told you have it all backwards?

If you don’t go first, if you don’t put yourself first, you won’t be able to help or serve others. Maybe at the beginning, you’ll have the stamina to keep the pace up, but after a while, your battery will run low and you’ll crash. But before you crash, you won’t be able to give as much; you’ll be less productive, less positive, less creative, you’ll have less patience, less tolerance, less energy, less loving, less willingness to play with your kids, etc. Until something gives – you’re faced with a burnout, a health issue, a depression – you get the picture. And then you can’t be as good of a parent as you would like to be because you have nothing more to give. Or, if you’re not a parent, you can’t be as good a friend, partner, lover, daughter or sister. You’re all spent. Just like when your car battery is dead, your car won’t turn on. The battery needs to be recharged. You need to charge your own battery first.

So you see, you have to go first. Going first is not selfish – it’s self-care. And it’s not hard to do, nor time-consuming. Self-care doesn’t involve going to exotic places or to far-away lands (although it’s not on the prohibition list ) It could be as simple as sipping a cup of your favorite java in a quiet spot, soaking in a hot bath, reading a good book, taking a nap, writing in your journal, working out, going out dancing or to the movies, dining out, hanging out with your friends, getting a pedicure, hiking – whatever makes you feel good. It isn’t hard to squeeze in your schedule. But it’s not a one-time thing. Self-care is ongoing care.

When you take care of yourself, you have a lot more energy, you feel fulfilled, positive, joyful, free, peaceful, content, and you have so much more love to give to the people in your life. Your battery is fully charged. You’re also a better parent, partner, spouse, lover, friend, sister or daughter. The idea is to fill yourself up so much that you’re overflowing with a deep desire to love and give to other people. Now, you must admit there’s nothing selfish about that is there?

So you go first. And if you’re interested in going more deeply into self-care, I invite you to check out my “Live Your Dream” life coaching program at

Sylvie Grégoire