Self-care is a phrase making moms everywhere feel like total trolls.
I’m an unfiltered mom. I always put my hair in a bun, my days start and end with carbs, I wear scrubs on the clock, leggings off the clock, currently can’t find my mascara, and I’ve never contoured anything on my face. But damn it, my kids are eating well-balanced meals that would make Michelle Obama proud, my daughter gets her hair french-braided in the mornings, and my boys wear clean underwear and socks when they leave for school.
But that doesn’t stop the feeling of unrealistic expectations for myself as I scroll past a filtered image of a woman holding a glass of Pinot, being bath-bombed in a luxurious soaking tub, with her lash extensions and manicured nails on a weekend getaway to Sedona. #selfcare.
What image do I want to see? That of a mom washing down a stolen piece of Halloween candy with a LaCroix as she hides in the pantry to recharge. That’s me. That’s my unfiltered self-care.
How can we be high performers at work, maintain happy relationships, make our children feel loved, and have an Instagram-worthy self-care routine? Can we lower our standards when we’re in the season of life that’s hard to have 5 minutes alone? I know we feel like we are underperforming and missing the mark many, many times a day. Can we rewrite realistic ways to practice unfiltered self-care that help other moms feel like it’s something attainable?
I’ll start with a few of my own personal successes.
- Tell your partner you think you have a stomach virus, and retreat to the bathroom for 23 minutes with your phone and earbuds to watch one Netflix show just for yourself (no Paw Patrol, Daniel Tiger, Fuller House allowed).
- After packing lunches for tomorrow’s school day, take a package of Goldfish AND fruit snacks and retreat to the laundry room to eat in peace and quiet behind a closed door before starting the bedtime routine.
- Grab the other half of the avocado you used for your hipster toast this morning and make yourself a face mask (it’s fine if you left it on the counter all day and it’s now brown).
- After everyone is asleep, sneak into the bathroom and quietly scoop out the bath toys, naked Barbies, and tub crayons, and draw yourself a watermelon or Mr. Bubble-scented bath.
- When running out to pick up a prescription for pink eye, take the long way to the pharmacy, turn up Nirvana on the radio, and sing at the top of your lungs. Avoid looking at the 16-year-old fetus behind the wheel in the car next to you at the stoplight that could hinder the enjoyment.
- When someone has grass stains on their football pants, use a lavender-scented soap to work out the stains and inhale deeply.
- Slide on wireless headphones and listen to your favorite author on Audible during dinner prep to drown out the whining about the evening’s menu.
- As you turn the playroom upside down looking for the missing Lego head, slip into child’s pose and downward dog and practice yoga.
- Place tweezers in the minivan console for when you’ve arrived at your destination with time to spare and the sunlight is hitting your chin hair just right.
See? These are things we can do. These are things we can squeeze into our schedules to help us feel a little less like disgruntled, sleep-deprived trolls.
How we care for ourselves 5 and 10 years from now will look different than it does today. Because right now, self-care is the last care we worry about as we try to launch healthy, capable offspring into the world.
We’re living messy, tired, but joyful lives that may not be glamorous, and certainly aren’t filtered. Once we escape the trenches of motherhood, we’ll have time to laser those pesky chin hairs and maybe take an uninterrupted soak in a bathroom that doesn’t have little fingers sliding under the door.
But, I do believe we’ll miss these moments we’ve lived unfiltered.
About the Author
Larissa is a regular mom, not even a cool mom, trying to keep it together in the suburbs of cold and snowy St. Paul, Minnesota. She spends her days working full-time as a dental hygienist and her nights finding creative ways to hide from her blended family. You can follow her misadventures on Instagram (@larissa.schlueter).