Since my first year in college I’ve had a Personal First Aid Kit.
I didn’t refer to it as such (& its contents weren’t too healthy back then)–but I had one.
(early ’90s. lots of curling iron.)
The kit was always evolving my approach, however, remained the same:
Each fall, as I considered which items to tuck away in case of emergency, I’d ask myself 4 questions:
- In a moment where I feel the pull of old behaviors what’s a positive alternative?
- In a moment where I feel sad what might make me smile?
- In a moment when I’m lonely/feel like isolating what might provide uplifting company?
- In a moment of anxiety how might I self-soothe?
As I’ve changed my Personal First Aid kits have also shifted.
With 2+ decades of kit-creating hindsight, though, it becomes apparent they’ve all had a few things in common:
They’re tangible. They’re small. They’re fluid (I can add to them any time). They’re portable (just in case. just in case.).
I create traditional first aid kits for emotional boo-boos.
And they’ve saved me more than once.
In the craziness of this August, I’d forgotten about creating a 2016 kit.
I was focused on readying for urgents at hand (school supplies, new school route, new start time) and failed to prep for emotional bang-ups which will inevitably occur along the way.
Teaching the Child about Personal First Aid kits also slipped my mind until I received a message from a friend:
Her choice of the word toolkit sparked this Mama to think:
And, because I roll sans-guilt, I let it go/blocked off our next available afternoon to create Last Year of Elementary School Personal First Aid Kits together.
I explained the concept (“You know how we have a kitchen first aid kit? This is like that except it’s stuff to heal feelings.).
She immediately understood (“Oooh, it’s what makes me feel nurtured“) & listed items she wanted in her box.
The problem was her items didn’t match my idea of what her selections should be.
In my mind, Personal First Aid Kit stuffs were tangible items she’d set aside so they were literally ready when she needed them.
My Personal First Aid Kit, she insisted, would contain these things:
- An eye-mask to help her sleep
- Her stuffed monkey to calm her
- Nail polish to have fun
- Bubble bath to let her worries float away
- Markers and paper so she could relax and color
- The Chairman and me so we could make her feel safe.
I can’t lie.
After years of creating kits (and apparently thinking my way was the right way!) it was hard for me not to “correct” her.
It was a challenge not to say:
“No no. You need to choose things you can keep in a box. Like a regular first aid kit! You can’t pick living things.”
But I’ve learned. Finally.
She then watched as I gathered items for my kit.
I found a shoe box and filled it with things I knew I’d need in an emotional emergency:
- A brand new special notebook & fresh pen
- A fave thermal cup & tea bags
- A reminder I am loved
- One Diet Coke
- A spare special Gilmore Girls red cup
- Silly string to make me laugh
and potentially use to torment the Goldendoodle
When I was finished she chose a special spot for my box and we created/printed a photo collage of her “Living Personal First Aid Kit.”
Sometimes the awareness we have a
safety net Personal First Aid Kit really is all we need.
- If you created a kit–what’s an item you’d include?
- Would yours be tangible like mine or metaphorical like the Child’s?