‘Self-care’ is a trending topic in Mum World at the moment, and with good reason. It’s psychologically beneficial to make time for yourself … and it’s psychologically detrimental not to.
At least, that’s what all the blog posts and articles say. I read them, I agree with them … then I give a cynical little chuckle and go back to being the mum who’s with her kids 24/7, seven days a week. Really. Sometimes I even pee while holding the baby.
The thing is, I don’t have a lot of choice. But I also don’t see my kids as a chore. I had a heck of a lot of fun before I had children, and I don’t feel like I’m ‘missing out’ now. I’m in a particular season where I’m around my kids 24/7, and I know I will miss it when it’s gone. (Well, it will be gone by Monday because I’ll be back at work and they’ll be in daycare – sob!) But seriously, I know plenty of mums who are always trying to get away from their kids, and that’s OK. They feel tired out, stressed out, worn out – whatever. They need a break and I get that. I’m just not wired that way.
It could be that I’m on maternity leave, so I know my time with these little guys is limited and I savour every second. It could be that my recovery from post-natal depression made me appreciate being with them all the more. Whatever it is, self-care was not on my to-do list.
Then, during the summer, my wonderful cousin (godmother of my baby and one of the most incredible people I know) bought me a massage. For no reason other than she’s a generous, loving, thoughtful individual. And she instructed Mr Chef to take all three girls off my hands for the duration of said massage. He pulled a face (probably a grimace of fear), but he nevertheless manned up and said he would do it. (After I said something along the lines of “FGS they’re your kids, too. Stop getting me pregnant or I’ll have you neutered at the vet’s.”)
In the end, it didn’t materialise because the massage therapist got – wait for it – sciatica. (I’m sure Alanis Morissette would have something to say about that … .) And I realised I was disappointed. Not just because I’ve been lugging a 9 kg baby round on my left arm and breastfeeding in all sorts of weird positions, and I could really do with a massage. Also because (surprise to me), I was looking forward to getting a break. … Not an I’m-going-mental-get-me-away-from-these-little-arseholes-before-I-have-a-nervous-breakdown break. I don’t need it. But I didn’t need to order that chocolate brownie with extra chocolate sauce and ice cream, either, and I still did it because I wanted to, because I enjoyed it and it made me feel good.
So is self-care selfish? I don’t think so. Because selfish, to me, means doing something at someone else’s expense. No one was going to lose out here. My kids would get to hang with their dad. Mr Chef, although initially terrified, would have discovered that he can, in fact, handle three girls under 8 for a limited amount of time – and he probably would have enjoyed it, too.
It got me thinking. Perhaps (another surprise) the entire rest of the online motherhood community does know what they’re talking about. Maybe us mamas do need a break … or maybe we should just take one anyway just because we want to. So here’s my self-care goal: to do one unnecessary luxury activity for myself each month. See? Unnecessary. Luxury. I used those words on purpose. I’m not talking about shaving my legs or dying my roots. I’m not talking about slapping on a face mask in the bathroom at 2 am when they’re all asleep. I mean something frivolous, useless, and just for me.
Do you take time for self-care? Why or why not? And if you do, what activities do you do? What’s on your self-care bucket list?