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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.

14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

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

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