Self-care in motherhood

self care in motherhood

A mani-pedi once a month, a spa day with friends every three months and a night out every three to four weeks. This is considered by our society as self-care in motherhood. Anything more than that is obviously selfish and irresponsible behaviour, which results in neglecting the needs of our children.

Magazines and online sites show all the tips “you didn’t know” for self-care in motherhood, promising to resolve sleep deprivation problems, motivate you to wash your hair and brush your teeth again or turn every day into a delight. These tips include shopping days or occasional brunches with girlfriends as if going out shopping for socks and t-shirts is the supreme act of self-care for a mom.

Yet, what most of these printed and online sources neglect to mention is the most crucial fact of all: self-care in motherhood is not about escaping reality. It is not about an “once per month” activity. And it is not a selfish act. 

On the contrary, self-care is about creating a new reality that accommodates the needs of the mother and the child. Self-care in motherhood is an essential routine.

Quality vs quantity

I would like to address a widespread misconception about parenting here. Many people, parents or not, believe that the more time parents spend with their children, the better the parenting works. This misleading and utterly wrong idea is also responsible for guilting mothers who focus on their self-care.

Quality over quantity is one of the secrets to efficient parenting. When a mother dedicates all or most of her daily time to her child, it does not necessarily equal quality parenting. More probably, this mother will end up losing her patience easier, and she will feel bored and frustrated more often. This does not mean that there is no love there. Spending too much time with our kids is not mentally and psychologically healthy; it does not contribute towards a robust parent-child relationship.

On the contrary, we must emphasise the quality of time with our children. What do we do together that promotes curiosity, creativity, emotional intelligence and independency while helping the emotional bonding between parent and child? What experiences do we build together as a family?

Mom guilt

One usual cause of mom guilt is the mother’s -or any other primary caregiver’s- return to work. Some parents have to, while others wish to return to work after a period of staying at home with their child. The return to work can cause the famous “mom guilt”.

Another source of guilt is self-care; some mothers believe that prioritising and attending to their own needs places their children’s needs in second place while taking away time from them.

Can a mother who fulfils her needs be a good mother? Yes, she can! Because self-care results in happy and fulfilled parents with the mental and emotional capacity to offer more to their children. More quality time together. More worthwhile experiences. More fun moments and less stress. More efficient parenting.

What does self-care in motherhood look like?

Self-care includes any activity that generates feelings of contentment, fulfilment, balance and inner peace. 


Exercise, baths, hobbies shared with a friend, gym, blog writing, drinking coffee alone, slowing down to read a book or magazine, cooking healthy foods or anything else important to you as a mother. These activities are harmonically integrated into our new reality with kids. They co-exist with our kids’ life and needs and are a fundamental part of family life.

The key is consistency; to turn these self-care activities into a routine, a ritual. Self-care is not a special present a mother receives on special occasions. It is part of her existence, of who she is. These habits are the pylons that keep the mom going strong for herself and her family. Without these, she is incomplete and, eventually, unsatisfied.


How can a mother find the time for self-care when her beloved child constantly hangs from her clothes and runs after her, even in the bathroom? She will naturally feel selfish if she puts her needs first and does not attend to the kid’s constant seeking for attention. Here is where support comes in. 

As parents and human beings, we need to create a small and reliable support network when life gets complicated. Let alone with a kid around. This support network can be a reliable and understanding partner, a best friend, a loving grandmother, grandfather or auntie, a trustworthy babysitter, a credible neighbour or a daycare.

We cannot do everything alone. We think we can, but at what expense? Sacrificing our mental health and driving ourselves straight into burnout? Cutting strings with the people that sincerely care for us because “there is no time” for anything anymore? Live a life of constant stress and guilt?

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. The people who know you well will never judge you as a selfish parent who neglects their child. Quite the contrary, they will support your right to self-care and understand the significance of a mom’s well-being in their child’s upbringing.

Start small

It is usual for mothers who are used to mom guilt to feel apprehensive about introducing the concept of self-care into their daily life. Baby steps will help with building our confidence. 

Start small by adding to your weekly schedule one habit that helps you find balance and fulfilment in your life as a parent. Gradually add more activities to your routine that make you happy and promote your mental and physical health. Stay committed to and consistent with your self-care routine. 

By introducing self-care to motherhood, we simultaneously teach our kids to respect the needs of others and their personal space. We show them by example that self-care means loving yourself so you can freely offer your love to others. A seamless, unconditional love that derives from self-appreciation and is not dipped in guilt and stress. 

No one and nothing really prepares us for parenthood. It is an adventurous personal journey which often follows different paths from the ones shown in our initial plan. We cannot predict the future of our motherhood and cannot influence everything that happens within it. But we can empower ourselves to handle the present best and set the ground for our family’s prosperity. We empower ourselves through self-care and self-appreciation.

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