Lately, I’ve found myself volunteering to mow our yard. Shortly after having our second daughter, the pandemic hit, and the voluntary quarantine we put in place for our newborn quickly became strongly encouraged by government officials. We weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I needed to get out of the house. So, escaping for an hour to take over a productive task like mowing seemed like one of my only options.
I do enjoy it, but I still find myself looking through the window when I can to check on my husband and kids. I feel selfish for needing to get out, but I’m also frustrated that I feel obligated to be productive at all times.
Is this self care? Stepping outside for an hour to push a lawn mower, sweating and dodging mosquitos? Not quite.
“Thank you so much for letting me shower!”
A very common narrative throughout motherhood focuses on our lack of self care and the grateful celebration we share when we finally get to take a shower. Modern society and viral memes aren’t totally to blame here. It’s partly our fault. We settle for too little, and we cut ourselves short.
Showers and naps after sleepless nights aren’t forms of self care. They are essential. It’s hygiene and health. It’s a human being doing her best to function. It’s the starting point for treating our exhaustion, grasping for a shred of sanity.
No one deserves a “thank you so much for letting me shower.” Frankly, it’s sad we naturally feel the need to thank anyone for letting us leave the room alone for a few minutes.
Buying groceries isn’t self care
Yes, we enjoy solo trips to Target, strolling the aisles and planning for future home renovations, drooling over pillows and fall candles.
However, if we’re at Target to buy groceries for our family … we aren’t practicing self care. We aren’t getting a treat, rejuvenating our minds and bodies and leaving totally refreshed. We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re feeding our families.
If you’re stepping outside to get some virtual work done during nap time, enjoying a cup of coffee with music playing in the background, you aren’t practicing self care. You’re doing your job.
If I ask my husband to watch the kids so I can go outside to mow the yard, I’m not practicing self care. I’m mowing the yard.
Like I mentioned before, the twisted narrative is one we accept too often. Want me to enjoy myself? Forget the shower. Give me a bubble bath and champagne. That’s a good place to start.
What does self care mean to you?