What Comes to Mind When You Hear ‘Self-Care’?


I realize we may not know each other, but I can guarantee you we churned up a similar image: A woman with a perfectly messy top knot, soaking in endless bubbles with sliced cucumber over her eye lids, and a glass of rose on a bamboo bath tray. And in the background, the ultimate in self-care ambiance, Kenny G.

Oh, and I should mention the unmentioned. That bathroom is totally spotless. Not a sign of children, laundry, dirty towels, or toothpaste lingering in the sink.

What? Too much?

Contrary to what our culture so artfully shares on pages of fashion magazines and #selfcaresunday, this is not self-care. This is good hygiene and questionable taste in music, at best. As relaxing as this image attempts to portray, it’s not realistic unless the kids are asleep, the dishes are done, and someone else has the baby monitor. And in the slight chance all of that has happened, please let us call adult bath time by its real name: a break. Not self-care.

As moms, our lives are scheduled around our children. From drop offs to deadlines, soccer practice to science projects, we are what our children commit to. And we love it, for the most part. But this scheduling comes with a price. Our children will always come first.

Moms are a force to be reckon with. We run on less sleep, more coffee, and serious adrenaline when necessary. We make the brownies, sign up for the volunteer events, and always, always check the calendar to make sure we aren’t forgetting a special event along the way. We know our kids schedules better than they do, especially if they are in elementary school. We are like their second brain. We know when they are hurting and hurt just as much as they do. We also celebrate their joys as if they are our own, because in a way, they are.

But if we peel away at the layers of our days, we will find a lot of buried business. This business is typically in form of actions that we likely need to address, tasks that should be done for the betterment of our health, or conversations with people that we avoid having. Initially these things feel small and are easily distractible, but with time, they bear more weight on the mind and body. Tension builds and creates inflammation, resulting in a cycle of negativity, depression, and anxiety, effecting both the physical and mental self.

Real self-care addresses the business head on. It is not something that can be outsourced, which makes it especially challenging. You can hire a professional to paint your nails or poke the blackheads out of your pores. But you cannot hire someone to take that spin class, have the mammogram you’ve been putting off, or visit with a therapist. Self-care is not selfish. It is necessary, and requires continuous upkeep. In a world where we get what we give, why not give our best to ourselves so we can share that with the people we love the most? And in this process, we encourage others to do the same.

Now, picture what this kind of thoughtful, ever-evolving self-care looks like: I see a fellow mom leaving her therapist’s office. I see a woman walking into her first group fitness class. I see a friend picking up the phone and scheduling her mammogram. I see a brave, empowered woman taking her life by the reigns and claiming what she wants for herself and her future. And I see everyone around her benefiting from it.


Grace Boland
Mama, yogi, health enthusiast,
and lover of all things family
and the perfect glass of red

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