When my second baby was born 15 months after my first child, I remember feeling overwhelmed at the thought of taking care of two little ones in diapers. How was I ever going to meet the needs of a one-year-old and a newborn at the same time both wearing diapers and needing food and loving attention?

My mother-in-law gave me some great advice. She said I would learn to attend to the needs of my children based on what was most urgent.

This reminds me of a battlefield scene where injured men are taken to the medics. There is a hierarchy when attending to the needs of the injured, of course. Those soldiers with the most life-threatening wounds are cared for first.

In family relationships there is often a hierarchy of needs as well, and with all the responsibilities that come with raising a family, it can be overwhelming. We desire to take care of our spouse and children’s needs but sometimes neglect our own. Unless we take time for our own needs and recuperating from many daily duties, we might get burned out quickly and be as effective as a candle being snuffed out when thrown into water.

In order to light the way, self-care is critical whether it be a daily 30-60 minutes of “me” time to exercise, read, meditate, watch a short movie, take a walk, etc. On a weekly or monthly schedule we might need a massage, haircut, visit an old friend, attend an inspiring event, and so on. But sometimes with the intense schedules we have and all the little accidentals that add to that, if we don’t actually schedule that time for ourselves, it’s bound to be stolen from us.

But isn’t that being selfish when we are taught to sacrifice and serve others, especially our families? Remember that analogy of a candle being thrown in the water? How do you let your light shine when you drown as you struggle to meet the needs of others? A little self-care goes a long ways in energizing and recharging your light so you have the energy to illuminate the path for others as you guide and care for them.

Grab your calendar and decide something you can do for yourself on a daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly basis. Then stick to the plan, and if something truly is more urgent than you reading that book you’ve been longing to read, reschedule that time and work at that important self-care!