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Self-Care for parents

My husband and I had a discussion a few weeks ago about self-care for moms and it hit a nerve so I knew I had to share with other burnt out caregivers. We all know you can’t pour from an empty cup and my cup has been running on empty for too long this year.

I’ve been doing this underpaid, under acknowledged parenting-gig for over 9 years now and have been juggling the balance between maintaining the household and taking care of myself since the beginning.

Both my husband and I work full time but he works outside of the home, and I work from home with the kids here. We often play this unhealthy game of ‘who needs more of a break’ and sometimes it can be a stressor in our marriage.
Since I’m home, I make time to complete household chores, cook meals, play chauffer for preschool and sports, and take care of our kids’ needs. By the time my husband comes home 12 hours later I’m often tired, stressed, and in desperate need of a shower. Most days I don’t even get to sit and eat a meal. So when he made the comment about ‘mom needing some relaxing time alone’ in the form of a quick shower (where I don’t even wash my hair most nights), I felt it was important to tell him that I felt that was NOT self-care. I asked him if he had to try and schedule his showers, bathroom time, or getting ready for the day around the needs of 3 kids. His answer was no. I asked him if he considered that time to be ‘relaxing’…he also said no. So why should I?

After vocalizing my issues with my husband, here is what I think is NOT self-care.

  • Showering or other basic hygiene needs
  • Running errands for the household
  • Cleaning the house without kids here
  • Sleeping in a little after being up all night with the baby
  • Staying up hours later than the rest of the family to squeeze in quiet time (or work!)
  • Getting a babysitter when I need to really focus on work or run some kid-free errands
  • Locking myself in a room to work while my husband cares for the kids
  • Doctor or dentist appointments

Spoiler alert! Taking care of my family’s needs does bring me joy, but it’s not relaxing.

So…what do I consider self-care? Probably what most moms (or caregivers) do!

  • A massage, pedicure, or other relaxing treatment
  • Vacation or a weekend getaway (sans-kids)
  • Date night
  • A shopping trip for myself (with a stop for my favorite coffee!)
  • Coffee, lunch, or happy hour dates with friends
  • A visit to the gym (this is a tough one to label self-care or not because it’s SO hard for me to make the time to go with the 3 kids and my husband never has to worry about his gym visits, but I do consider it to be enjoyable and Mountainside Fitness has wonderful childcare)
  • Spending time on an enjoyable hobby
  • Reading a book
  • Going out for walk (with a friend or solo) and listening to an audiobook or podcast
  • Watching a show or movie without the kids around

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