Why “Taking a shower” is Not Sufficient Self-Care for Moms

| May 18, 2021 |

Everyday life as a mom with kids goes a little something like this…

  • Wake up. 
  • Diapers.
  • Breakfast. 
  • Playtime.
  • Lunch. 
  • Diapers. 
  • Playtime.
  • Nap. 
  • More diapers.
  • Clean. 
  • Dinner.
  • Clean. 
  • Baths. 
  • Pajamas and more diapers. 
  • Bedtime.

Now, imagine trying to fit in cleaning up the smaller messes, showering for yourself, drinking your coffee, and maybe squeezing in your own meal. That’s my life with three kids and it’s the same for so many other women. In fact, since opening my computer to write this, my youngest has woken up three times. 

Moms live their lives in twenty-minute increments. If she works full time, it’s probably even less, as she tries to pack in a full day’s worth of cuddles and laughter before bed. Twenty minutes…

That’s hardly enough time to reset for the day. It doesn’t recharge the battery she’s been using to keep everyone happy and healthy all day. And it certainly doesn’t compare to an hour-long nap by herself in a dark, quiet room. You hear this a lot as a mom. “At least you got to grab a hot shower!

Well, I have a bone to pick with those cheerleaders. A hot shower is not a break. It is basic hygiene, something most people don’t give a second thought to before having children. It is time to wash the spit up, the boogers, and the dried milk from your body. It’s time to untangle the knots in your shoulders where the stress from the last toddler tantrum is hanging out. And it’s time to look in the mirror and view the woman you used to be before motherhood, or at least the remnants of her. 

Most of us miss that woman, though we’re happy for the new one birthed from motherhood. Some days we might even hear the echoes of her thoughts as we unbury an old hobby or have a rare date night with our partner. In those twenty-minute increments, we search for her. For the rest of the day, is selflessly devoted to the loud parts of life. 

It’s full of boisterous toddlers with chubby feet running down the hallway, play dates, art projects, paying the bills, remembering birthdays, grocery shopping… Those are the loud parts for moms, even when they often go unnoticed. On average, moms work ninety-eight hours a week. Nearly a hundred hours of a mother’s week goes to other people. While they’re her people, they’re still other people. 

And society expects a hot shower should qualify as a break? 

How is a shower a break when spouses and partners get a full lunch break, an hour at the gym, a nap on the recliner? How do we honestly expect moms to cram all their self-care into twenty minutes in the bathroom? 

We have to do better. Families must prioritize the sanity of Mom. When Mom is allowed to have proper self-care, tantrums don’t feel like tornados, loud giggles become music instead of noise, and hugs don’t feel like the weight of the world. So where do we start? I have some thoughts. 

Mom with a saucepan on her head and concerned baby!
The sanity of mom need to be a family priority!

Ideas for self-care

  • Date night
  • Scheduled time to herself (completely to herself) 
  • A trip to Target alone 
  • A salon appointment 
  • A night where she doesn’t cook dinner or clean it up 
  • Hotel room for one night 
  • Girls trip 
  • Gym time without the baby monitor or constant fear of waking the baby 
  • An educational class (cooking, art, dance, etc.) 
  • Time to binge-watch her favorite show 

Do you see a trend? Most of the things I listed above (and I could go on forever) are things that most people take for granted. They’re simple requests, but also things that moms give up all the time because eventually, squeezing them in becomes harder and not worth the fight. 

Like a flower being pelted with rain, eventually she slumps over, accustomed to the force pressing down on her. Well, we need to think of self-care as the sun that warms the petals and stem and helps the flower stand back up, straighter, and refreshed from having its needs met. 

Every mom is different and only she can speak to what self-care is for her, but I would wager that every mom would say a singular shower every day IS NOT ENOUGH. Women still want to thrive during motherhood. They want to learn new things and grow into their role in the family while maintaining a sense of individual identity. One cannot do all of that with a handful of shampoo and a dollop of conditioner. So, please, as a society, can we stop acting like the bare minimum is enough?

Breanna is a former therapist turned writer. She earned a master’s in psychology in 2015 but ultimately decided she would like to be more present for her family. Currently flexing her writing skills as a stay-at-home mother of two toddlers (with another baby on the way), she enjoys writing in the parenting and home/DIY niches. She also writes fiction and has been published in a handful of literary magazines and a fiction anthology. In her spare time, Breanna enjoys blogging, painting, running, and drinking an absurd amount of coffee.

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