Over the past several weeks I’ve seen a number of posts circulating on social media stating that showers, getting our nails done, getting our hair done, cleaning and running errands without the kids are not forms of self care for moms. They claim that these activities are “chores” and “basic maintenance/hygiene”, and should not be mistaken for self care.
When I see posts like this… posts that generalize our experience as moms… I typically mind my business. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and quite frankly I’m creating and living my own exciting life, and I love it… so I usually keep it moving.
But in this instance I simply couldn’t move on.
Now, I totally agree with the intent of these posts, which is to address those (society and beyond) who shamefully and dismissively tell moms to “just be grateful for the ‘breaks’ they can get”. Nobody, can tell moms what they should or shouldn’t do, nor should any mom be made to feel guilty for wanting/needing/asking for more time to care for herself.
Even still, I felt like I needed to say something, for a few reasons.
1. All of the activities definitively deemed as NOT being self care for moms… are indeed forms of self care for me (emphasis on the “for me”). Like, every single one… and I am a mom.
2. I love to be empowered. But any narrative that generalizes and dictates what our self care experiences “should be” as moms, and seemingly disapproves of those who partake in forms of self care that are considered to be “basic maintenance”… is a problem for me. Self care is all about doing what is best for you. One size does NOT fit all. So what you call “basic maintenance”, could very well be a moment of rejuvenation for someone else.
3. Furthermore, we must be very careful not to disregard the beauty of starting where we are, and giving ourselves the grace and space to grow and evolve overtime. Self Care evolves as we evolve.
So instead of minding my business, I decided to share my thoughts and take us back to basics, especially for the moms who may have felt pressured by this narrative to reach for some sort of “extravagance” when indeed self care is doing whatever you need to do FOR YOU!
Self care is the act of doing whatever YOU need to do to fill YOUR cup spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically and relationally.
It has less to do with the activity (ie showers, target runs, organizing your closet, nails, Netflix binges, lunch/trips with friends… etc), and almost everything to do with what that activity does for you (fills your cup, clears your mind, provides the space to breathe, think, be, process and/or check out completely..etc).
As my good friend and Self Care Expert Marquia Tyler LCSW puts it, “Self Care clears the clutter so you can be and see yourself more clearly.” This hit me!
According to Oxford’s Dictionary, “Self” is defined as a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, and “Care” is defined as the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, ***maintenance***, and protection of someone or something. So to be quite literal,
SELF CARE is the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, ***maintenance***, and protection of a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others!
READ. THAT. AGAIN.
So we really can’t say, definitively, what is or isn’t self care for moms. It’s all about what that mom needs. We must be careful not to minimize or dismiss the experiences of others, simply because that experience no longer serves us.
There is an easy fix to ALL OF THIS, though. An easy way to shift and personalize the narrative, which is something that I’ve been learning to do more often, especially since becoming a mom.
Instead of saying…
“this or that isn’t self care for moms“
“As a mom, this or that isn’t self care for me“
Remember, one size does not fit all. It is deeply personal. So, that shower may not be “it” for you, but for another mom that shower is giving EVERYTHING it was supposed to gave. Not because someone told her “she should be grateful for it“, but rather because it was what she needed.
That was my experience on many occasions.
Earlier this month, I found myself weeks away from my “Selfish Sunday” (my own personal self care day), and in need of a serious break. There was so much going on, and I just needed the space to take a deep breath. At this particular time I was not in the position to go out for a massage, or call friends to meet for lunch, nor was my therapist available. And I surely wasn’t going to just “hold on” until selfish Sunday. No… I seized MY moment right then and there. I knew what I needed and decided to act on it. So I asked my hubby to step in and take care of the morning routine with our daughter before he left for work, and I disappeared for 20 minutes.
What did I do?
I took a steaming hot shower. Yup, a shower. I prayed, cried, ask God for His strength, as worship music blared in the background. And when I stepped out I was ready for my day with my toddler. In that moment I provide the space I needed to pour into my cup spirutaully, mentally and emotionally. That shower, maintenance and all, WAS self care (for me).
The point is, you decide. You do not have to settle, nor do you need to feel any type of way because you enjoy what others call “basic maintenance” or “chores”. There is no shame in wanting/needing/asking for more, nor is there any shame in taking advantage of every opportunity you have to care for yourself.
Let’s celebrate all the moments we take for ourselves, to cater to ourselves, to love on ourselves, to prioritize our needs, to pour into our wellbeing mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally… as whole moms!
Don’t let anyone… not even another mom… limit your experience because of the narrative they choose to embrace. Our lives are unique, and each season of support can look drastically different. The goal is to make sure you check in with yourself, ask for the support you need, and take the time to care for yourself, in whatever form you decide works best for you. “Do whatever you need to do to be and see yourself more clearly”… maintenance and all.
One Size does not fit all.
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