Basic Hygiene Doesn’t Count as Self Care

Last month, I attended the Orlando MommyCon.

It was a ridiculously fun day – I left my kids at home with my husband and enjoyed learning, listening, and all the things. I thought the speakers were great, the shopping area was tempting and fun, and the whole event was super family friendly. All the rooms had toys for kids to play with, there were lots of diaper changing stations, quiet areas, and gobs of super nice people – it was almost enough to make me wish I’d brought my kids with me.

Naturally, when I saw an event about reclaiming motherhood hosted by Amy and Ilana of Apple Cheeks cloth diapers, I knew I had found my people.

Amy and Ilana started off the session by asking, “What do you do for self care? Oh, and basic hygiene doesn’t count as self care.”

I sat there stumped.

It’s been over a month, and I’m still not sure I have a great answer. I mean…self care? Caring for yourself? What does that even mean? Foot rubs? Getting a pedicure? (Just FYI: I hate having other people touch my feet…so no…). Massage?

“What would you do if you had a day just to do what you wanted.”

I have one day off a week, and I usually spend it catching up on laundry, trying to get my yard to a state where we won’t get voted out of our neighborhood, doing my grocery shopping, and cleaning my kitchen. And…no blame here: my husband is right their with me, because we know that if we don’t do these things on our day off, the whole rest of the week is going to be harder. So…setting up my week so that I have fewer tantrums from my kids, eat reasonably well, and don’t get a letter from my neighborhood association about my lawn is kind of like self-care, right?

In these situations, I think it’s helpful to remember the words of Gretchen Rubin. One of her personal commandments is to: Be Gretchen. 

So…if basic hygiene doesn’t count as self-care, I’m pretty sure that lawn work and grocery shopping doesn’t count either (although, those things are important, too!). But I don’t think I need a weekly pedicure to feel cared for. Or a massage. Because I have a seriously hard time relaxing when strangers touch me.

For now, I have a working list of what Self-Care looks like for Maggie:

  • It looks like going to MommyCon without my kids.
  • It looks like taking time to post on my blog, even if there are typos and no one reads it.
  • It involves color coded lists.
  • It involves making playlists of music mostly from animated films
  • It involves reading children’s literature because that’s what I like to read
  • It actually involves a lot of reading
  • It involves exercising, even though I probably don’t feel like it
  • It probably involves buying non-maternity clothes to wear since I haven’t been pregnant in over two years and all my clothes have holes in them…but I’m not there yet.

I’ve also been thinking about some things that it’s not.

  • For me, a glass of wine at the end of the day doesn’t feel like self-care. I feel like drinking a glass of wine is supposed to be what every mom loves, but ever since I had babies, my body doesn’t like alcohol. When I DO drink, I get tipsy super fast, behave badly, and then have a headache for two days afterwards. So…not part of self care.
  • It is NOT distraction. I find it very hard to manage my social media usage. So, this weekend, I deleted all apps off my phone and set up parental controls. If I want to download an app (I’m looking at you Facebook), my husband has the password and I have to get it from him. It’s nice to have to sit down at the computer if I want to access Facebook or another social media account, and easier to not get lost on these sites.
  • Also (unfortunately) self care is not eating chocolate chip cookies or flour tortillas. Flour tortillas are my go to stress food. Any time I am having trouble dealing with a situation (for example: my daughter’s dismay that her favorite dress is dirty), I tend to pull out a flour tortilla and eat those feelings. And if it’s really bad, I bake cookies. I have relied on food to handle my stress for as long as I can remember, but…when I’m uncomfortably honest…I recognize that they don’t really put me in a place where I’m better able to handle my problems, and they don’t even taste good.

The thing about things that AREN’T self-care is that you kind of want to keep trying just in case they suddenly start working for you. I love this comic from Anemone Lost:Cqf_Q6sWIAAgynV.jpg-large

“Shhh, it’s working.”

That’s how I feel about my not-self-caring coping strategies. They’re obviously not working, but I hope against hope that they’ll make my problems go away.


So, that’s where I am today. On a journey to better self care. I can do it for myself – you know – because I’m worthy of love and all that stuff. I can do it for my kids – so I don’t lose my mind and yell at them for having needs. I can can do it for my husband – so I don’t hate him and run away from life. I’m working on it…that’s all for now.


  1. This is a topic I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about – grad school forced the issue. At best self-care needs to be daily – at worst weekly. Pedicures and massages don’t really work – unless you are rich – they add up too fast $$$.

    Here’s where I’ve come to in this discussion: Self-care is loving yourself enough to make yourself a priority. There is a decided emotional aspect to self-care. Whatever self-esteem issues that occurred growing up are definitely affecting me here. If I don’t feel worthy of care and prioritization then self-care will be non-existent.

    Scripture tells us that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we treat ourselves like crap then we lack the basis to treat others well. Those others – spouse, kids – they need us to love them well.

    As moms we often buy clothes for the family – but do we buy clothes for ourselves? Ok, so maybe we have other financial priorities (like getting out of debt), but the family should share equally in those cuts not just the mom.

    As a mom I have driven my kiddos to endless activities and sat and waited for them, but do I take the time to drive myself to an event I want to go to?

    As a mom I cook things my kiddos like to eat, but do I take the time to cook something I like to eat?

    Do I allow my time to be so cluttered with things that my family needs/wants that I fail to do things for myself? I was just thinking about that today… I have a horrible case of planter fascitiis – but trying to resolve it has been difficult. I’m over a year now with pt, cortisone injections, doctor’s visits, etc. The reality is I’ve been popping Aleve for 10-12 years now so I could manage the pain and keep doing for others. Now I walk slowly – with a great deal of pain – I’m not so much fun to be around – I failed to take care of myself – to make myself a priority.

    I’ve started to ask myself, “If my son asked me for this, would I do it?” If I would then I need to take care of it for myself – but that goes back to the emotional aspect and self-esteem – am I worthy of being prioritized?

    Sorry such a long response. The post caught my eye.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing. It really is a struggle. I love the idea of treating yourself like you would treat someone else, which, of course, is easier said than done. But it is definitely a lot to think about.

      Like I said, I’m still a little stumped by this, so I appreciate your perspective and input.


      1. Along the thought of treating yourself as you treat others, why is it so hard to give yourself grace but easy to give it to others???


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