Learning to Put Your Oxygen Mask on First
by Yoky Matsuoka, Founder & CEO of Yohana
Almost exactly a year ago, I shared about my decision to start a new chapter in my professional journey as founder and CEO of Yohana. I was determined to create a solution to help families find more balance in their wildly busy lives. One that would support your general well-being while also tackling your ever-growing to-do list so you have more space to be present for what matters most.
Nine months later, we piloted the Yohana Membership in Seattle with an ambitious mission: to help working parents get out of survival mode and actually start thriving. To date, we’ve helped over 1,000 families. We’ve taken over 20,000 tasks off their plates, and have saved some families as much as 8–10 hours per week. It’s gratifying to know that the service we’ve built is starting to make a difference, but there is still so much work to be done.
Bringing the Yohana Membership to additional cities has always been the goal, and today I’m incredibly excited to announce that we’re launching Yohana in LA! It’s a city that holds a special place in my heart. Before graduate school, I lived in Culver City — it was a time before I was a wife and a mother of four. I was able to truly live in the moment, to conjure up big dreams and aspirations, and most importantly, to feel joyful and carefree.
Almost thirty years later, a lot has changed. I’m deeply grateful for the family and the career I have built, and I’m very happy with my decision to have both. However, as almost every parent can attest, there have been sacrifices I never fathomed in my youth. The fact that there is not enough time in the day, the mental burden I carry trying to get everything done, and the guilt I feel about missing out on small moments with my family. It is a constant struggle.
It’s the guilt that eats me alive sometimes. If I give my time and energy to work, the kids don’t get all of me. If I give to the kids, am I able to show up fully at work? What about my husband, my family and friends? And forget about putting myself first. That would make me a bad mom or an underperforming CEO.
It’s a never-ending cycle, one that I was stuck in for years. Trying to do it all. Never feeling good enough. Not wanting to delegate or ask for help with parenting duties. Never feeling like I was showing up for the people who mattered most to me. I now realize that I’m not alone in feeling this way.
According to a recent study by Ohio State University, 66% of working parents feel burned out. The extreme pressure we’re facing doesn’t just impact our own well-being, it affects how we parent, how we show up at work, and even how we participate in society. Every day feels like an exercise in tradeoffs. There needs to be more acceptance around embracing the messiness of parenthood and fighting that nagging pressure to appear perfect or have it all figured out.
The pandemic really reinforced how out of whack this notion of “doing it all” has become. Everyday I was failing in some way and in turn it was jeopardizing the well-being of my family. I realized that if I wanted to break the cycle, something had to change. It meant facing up to two hard truths: 1) I can’t do it all by myself, and 2) if I want to be a good mom, wife, friend, and CEO, I could no longer ignore my own well-being. It was not until I started to put my oxygen mask on first and commit to my own emotional health, that I could start to be there for my family, friends, and colleagues in a meaningful way.
It wasn’t easy in the beginning. Finding an extra few minutes in the day to spend on myself — let alone routinely prioritizing my own needs — felt not just laughable, but completely unattainable. Asking for help made me feel like a failure. But with the guidance of a personal coach, little by little, I was able to shift my mindset. I learned how to focus on my own well-being — without guilt or judgment — so that I could give from a place of flow, not depletion. Committing to my well-being has been easier said than done. Some days it is still unattainable, but the days I am able to go for a run, or spend an extra few minutes in the morning with my family, are priceless.
These days, “Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others” isn’t just my personal mantra, it’s the philosophy that inspires the work we do at Yohana. More than anything, I want to help parents everywhere feel more supported and less overwhelmed. To give them a way to slow down and have more joyful moments with their families. And to help them discover the positive ripple effects that happen when you make well-being a priority.
There is no question that juggling a career and a family while also trying to focus on your own well-being is challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and gratifying. Even if you have a hard time prioritizing your own needs, remind yourself that you’re also doing it for your family and friends. As the Ohio State University study found, they benefit from you taking care of yourself. We only get one life to live and there is no reason to compromise career over family or vice versa. You can have both (if that’s what you want) and for those families who make that choice — what I call the ultimate juggle — Yohana is here to help you.
We’re so excited to bring Yohana to the families of Los Angeles and look forward to many more cities to come!