Menu

Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

errands are not self care
Delmaine Donson/Getty

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?


It also occurs to me that I recently made a related joke while sitting in the dentist chair. "You doing okay?" the hygienist asked.

"Oh, I'm great, this feels like a vacation," I replied.

Is it easier to run errands or clean the bathroom or go to the dentist without a child in tow? You bet. Do those activities constitute breaks? Absolutely not.

A viral post is making its way around that addresses this very point. The author, Shelby Hyatt, writes:

"Cleaning your house without kids is not a break. Showering is not a break. Grocery shopping alone is not a break. It's chores and basic hygiene but mothers are supposed to be grateful to do these things that literally everyone else just does. And at some point, we just break…"

She's not the only one breaking. Motherly's 2020 State of Motherhood Survey found that 86% of mothers experience burnout. A significant contributor to mom-burnout is that the patriarchy has made moms feel guilty about taking care of our own needs—so much so that we don't attend to them. We put ourselves last on our priority list every single time, and our physical and emotional health suffers because of it.

But moms are desperate for self-care so we look for ways to get 'alone time' that don't make us feel guilty. We settle for kid-free cleaning or grocery shopping because at least it's a little easier than being in full-on mom mode, and we can feel justified that we are doing something to help the family out in the process.

Yet chores and showers are not self-care. We break because we are expected to act as if they are.

Presuming that a mother will feel revived after cleaning the bathroom or rejuvenated after standing in line at the deli is unfair and demeaning. It suggests that women exist only to serve others and that the tasks and chores she does for others, nonstop, all the time should fill her with joy.

But why can't we feel justified in taking actual legitimate care of ourselves? Why does spending an afternoon in bed or going for a long hike or taking a yoga class make us so wrought with guilt? A healthy mix of sexism and misogyny—and it's time to change it.

We need to do two things: Recognize when we feel guilty and call on our families and our society to support real self-care.

The next time your mom-guilt rages, stop and pay attention. What triggered the guilt? Maybe it was snapping at your child (been there, done that). In that case, the guilt can be useful in that it can teach us that next time we hope to respond to a situation differently—totally fair.

But I bet that more often than not, guilt rears its head when you are doing something for yourself. When that happens, sit with it, as uncomfortable as it may be. Often just being with our uncomfortable feelings for a bit can disarm them, and can certainly help us learn. (Don't forget that a therapist can help you work through what comes up, as well.)

Once we are aware of the guilt-causers, we need to start addressing them by seeking real self-care. Now, this is going to look different for everyone. And I'll be the first to say that I have no plans to give up my Target runs. They make me happy! But self-care shouldn't stop there; maybe it's a Target run followed by a real run. Or coffee with a friend. Or an appointment with a therapist. Or whatever it is that you truly need to fill your cup.

The point is that you deserve to do things for yourself—just for yourself—without anyone making you feel guilty for it.

Because the reality is that this mentality isn't helping anyone. We've demonstrated that it's not helping us—we need better self-care so we can experience less burnout. And it's hurting our families, the very people we were trying so hard to protect all along.

Self-care is the least selfish thing you can do, mama. So do it well and intentionally.

Here are our favorite items for when self-care needs a boost:

'I am worthy' mantra bracelet

mantra bracelet

You are worthy of love. You are worthy of self-care. You are so very worthy, mama.

$35

Superfood honey

superfood honey

For a dose of nature-fueled energy, we can't get enough of Bee Keepers Naturals. It's made of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey and can help you restore your mama-energy. Oh, it also doubles as a face-mask!

$17

Solid snug comforter

comforter

The best self-care starts in bed. Make your bed a haven with this top-rated comforter, sure to inspire the more therapeutic sleep.

$249


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

Stylish storage cabinet

Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

White board calendar + bulletin board

With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

Bamboo storage drawers

The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

Laminated world map

I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.

Letterboard

From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

Expandable tablet stand

Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

Neutral pocket chart

Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

Totable fabric bins

My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

Work + Money

Dear 2020 baby: Thank you

This year has been a mess. But you've been the light in the darkness.

Sweet 2020 baby,

I just want to say thank you.

Because in many ways, this year has been a mess.

A bit of a disaster, really.

But you.

You've been the light in the darkness.

Keep reading Show less
Life