Moms are notoriously self-sacrificing. This is good. It is our strength, and it is how our children learn from an early age what it is to be loved. So, as a group we don’t always take the best care of ourselves. We even feel guilty if we catch ourselves engaged in an activity that might be considered pampering. What? That’s not you? You treat yourself happily and say, “I deserve this. I work hard.”? Congratulations on being well-adjusted. Go away.
Working moms feel bad about it because they already have to spend so much time away from their kids. Also, spending that money makes one feel that she is broadcasting a message that says, “I choose to work outside the home so I can have selfish play money.” If anyone thinks that, I invite you to follow a mom to work the first days, weeks, even months after maternity leave has ended. Watch her cry as though someone has ripped her heart out of her chest and then tell me she is doing it so she can have selfish play money.
Confession: I do get a pedicure every 2 or 3 months so that my scratchy feet don’t get out of hand enough to make someone bleed. When I get the guilt and feel I am sending out that message, I find that the free wine effectively shushes it.
Stay at home moms suffer from similar guilt related to spending money on themselves, but even more so usually because of a tight budget. Also being at home with the kids makes it difficult to ever get away from them. When you finally do, you miss them. Admit that you take at least one kid with you to the grocery store even when you don’t have to.
No one should spend hours and hours every week away from the family getting every treatment available at the spa. Still, you need to do something to relax and take care of yourself. What is the point of being so self-sacrificing if you look like a crazed wildebeest and your children fear that you will snap at them over small and arbitrary things (like me yesterday, but only if you consider getting caught playing in the toilet small and arbitrary).It defeats the purpose of our self-sacrifice, which is surrounding your children in the love necessary for them to be well-adjusted people. Here are some ways you can pamper yourself (You will see I use this term rather loosely) for very little money and without leaving home.
1. Good-Smelling Hand Soap.
I lied. You have to leave home to acquire good smelling soap, though I imagine a small percent of you are talented at making better soap than any of us could ever hope to buy. In theory, all soap smells good. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong. What I mean here is that next time you are at a grocery store or general store buy yourself some fancy hand soap. Put it by the kitchen sink where mostly only you will use it. You will be excited to wash your hands, which you have to do anyway. Then you can be a compulsive hand-smeller until the scent fades or you wash your hands again. The key to staying excited about hand soap is to have only one fancy soap at a time and try not to buy the same one twice in a row.
2. Toddler Pedicure
Have a toddler put lotion on your feet. Note that it should be your own toddler. You would have to be pretty close to a person for them to let you borrow their toddler for something like that. You will have to suspend disgust and concern for your house on this one, so I would recommend using it sparingly. Any kid who loves to play in the mud will also love to have lotion all over his hands. If they can follow directions enough to put that lotion on your feet, you just might be able to relax and be pampered.
3. Office Supplies
When you are out buying food to sustain your family and picking up some good smelling handsoap, pick out a few brand new office supplies for yourself. Buy a brand new pretty notepad or notebook, a very juicy pen and a gluestick (the gluestick is frivolous, you can omit this item.) There is nothing wrong with your system of writing on the envelopes for stupid credit card offers that keep you in constant struggle against piles of mail. You can keep using those for grocery lists and meal planning. In fact I recommend it. This notepad is special. Keep it way up high, maybe in a cabinet where you keep unusual glassware and need a stepstool to get to it. Then, when things are getting hairy, everyone is screaming and your spine is tensed up so bad you’re not sure if you deadlifted a small car and just forgot, go to your stash of crisp new office supplies. Open the notebook. Feel its spine crack. Maybe yours will too. Take that juicy pen and write something, maybe just draw a circle. Uncap the gluestick and just stare at it. It is unblemished. It is a unicorn. No sticky little hands have gotten these. They have not been covered with playdough and excavated back out. Put them back ,way up high, and know that it is your secret.
4. Alone time
Some of you may not let your children watch TV. My guess is that if you are that person, you are so put-off by my methods that you are not still reading this. There is a youtube channel that will captivate and amaze every toddler. This genius covers trains with Play Doh and then uncovers them. That’s it. It is enough to turn toddlers and even older babies into quiet little zombies. Just look for the playlist that keeps them all playing. It will buy you some alone time, as long as you can stay away. The truth is you too might fall under its spell. What should you use this for? Take a shower. Draw and cut out a giant cardboard Big Bird. Or the best and most important thing you could do is spend time alone with God. In the quiet and the still, talk and listen. He is the reason you have these children that are entrusted to your care. He is the source of all love and that is what we wanted for our children in the first place, right?
Whatever you do, be sure you have recharged your batteries a little before you surface again. They are going to want to play Play Doh.