It’s no secret that mothers are in need of self-care. We all know that in order to be the best mommy we can be, we must take care of ourselves, too – a notion that has become increasingly prevalent especially after the year that was 2020. But let’s be real; time is never on our side. So, to combat this, we mothers, being the excellent multi-taskers we are, have creatively found ways to incorporate “self-care” into our routines. Or, so we thought.
You’ve managed to escape into the dark closet for 5 minutes between laundry loads hoarding cookies. Maybe you’ve eagerly volunteered to run some errands because you’d be alone in the car. Or, you scheduled things just right so that the kids could go to bed early, and you get to tape your eyelids open just to talk to your husband. Sure, you could tell yourself that those are acts of protecting your well-being; that you’re perfectly fine and capable of running on E – you might even thrive on it. But is that really taking care of your mental health? I’m here to tell you, that’s not self-care, boo.
Grocery shopping alone is not self-care.
But, going on a shopping spree is! Don’t look at grocery shopping as self-care, rather take a trip to your favorite boutique without the kids, or head to the mall on a lunch break. Shop for yourSELF, not the whole family. If you were given the chance to have an hour of free-time without the kids, without work, and without any stress, would you really spend it picking out which almond milk has the fewest calories? Grocery shopping, alone or not, is a weekly chore, not an act of self-care. It spurs concerns that add stress – do I have enough money in my account for this? Will my kids throw a fit if I get the blueberry pop tarts instead of strawberry? What am I cooking for dinner this week? Self-care should not add stress, and shopping for others by necessity rather than for just yourself, leisurely, is not self-care.
Taking a shower is not self-care.
But, a trip to the spa is. It’s popular belief that mother’s don’t always have the time to take a proper shower, at least not consistently. We’re so consumed with making sure the kids and the house are clean before we are. So, when we get the opportunity to take a nice, hot shower, we relish in it. But, washing our hair and shaving our legs is hardly self-care – it’s just decent hygiene. Instead of using a basic shower as your “self-care”, book an appt at a spa. Take the hygienic practice to the next level and get a massage or a mud bath or a special skin treatment for no reason at all other than to relax and feel detoxified – talk about an excellent de-stressor.
Sneaking your favorite snack food is not self-care.
But going out to lunch is. If you have to manipulate, hide, or scheme to get 5 minutes of peace, that’s not self-care. And, to be honest, was it really worth it? Squeezing in that time only to worry if you’ll be caught, triggers stress and anxiety. Having to bear the crying and whining of kids looking for you while shoving your favorite dessert in your mouth is not the kind of ambience that caters to peace and happiness. But going out to eat, alone or with a friend, can definitely help take your mind off the busy to-do list for a time. You’re not racing against wandering toddlers looking for their lost leader. You can chew your food, savor it, and regroup before heading back into the mommy trenches.
Getting your hair done is not self-care.
But, booking a special treatment like a blowout or styling is. This particular notion could be up for debate, BUT if this type of maintenance is a necessity and you find yourself complaining or sighing about needing to book this appt or blocking out time to get it done, then it’s not self-care. Some women need routine trims and haircuts depending on the rate at which their hair might grow. Some women also need root touch-ups much more frequently and loathe having to be caged in a chair for an hour or two with heat and foil strapped to their heads. But, if you want to feel pretty and do something nice for yourself, getting a wash and blowout is a great act of self-care. It feels good, takes up less time, and will leave your hair looking healthy and you feeling refreshed!
Fighting sleep to stay awake and talk is not self-care.
But, hiring a sitter and going on a date is. A mother who is already lacking in the sleep department should not have to fight sleep in order to take care of herself, or her relationships. If anything, you’re doing a disservice to yourself by not just getting some shut-eye. Sleep can definitely be one of the best forms of self-care for a mother, but depriving yourself of this necessity just to spend some quality time with your poor, neglected husband is not the way to do it. Make plans to actually have a date night. Hire a sitter, get dolled up, and hit the town. This is a true act of protecting your well-being AND your marriage.
Going to work is not self-care.
But, playing hooky for a day is. Even if you truly love your job and love being able to have adult conversations, there’s still stresses that come with working – deadlines, clients, managers, emails, etc. It adds more on your plate. Just because it’s a part of your life that is separate from kids and family, doesn’t mean it’s self-care. Taking a personal day to do whatever the heck you want without work or the kids is more realistic of true SELFish behavior to check in with just you and take care of you. Make a day of it and do whatever puts your mind at ease. That’s true self-care.