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When self-care is just one more thing on your to-do list

The world sees self-care, but I see another thing for my to-do list. Another thing I’m failing at. Another thing I feel guilty over.

When self-care is just one more thing on your to-do list

I know what it’s like.

You’re tired—right to your bones.


The kind of tired you don’t think even a week of slumber on a desert island would cure.

You’re a bit fuzzy about the pile of paperwork that’s mounting on the corner of the kitchen table, but you know you’ve paid the electricity bill so everything else can wait.

You arrived at the school drop-off this morning perfectly on time with children fed, dressed, lunches in backpacks and ready for the day, but realized as you waved to another parent that you hadn’t looked in the mirror before you left home (or for several days, actually), and there’s every likelihood you have toast in your teeth and spit-up in your hair, and you’re definitely wearing the same workout clothes you had on yesterday—because you had every intention of working out but the day got in the way.

You feel 10 years older than you are because your greys are showing and the thought of sitting for hours in a salon with a toddler wriggling on your lap or emptying the trolley of clips and curlers is putting you off making an appointment.

You forget to eat lunch and then are so hungry you inhale the kids’ leftover fish fingers, and hate yourself when your jeans dig uncomfortably into what used to be your waistline.

I’m a mama too, so I know what all these things feel like. I know they’re so much a part of your day you don’t even think about them.

I know that 10 years ago this wasn’t the way you pictured yourself, and I also know that—right now—you’re just too tired to care.

Self-care. Did you know there’s an Instagram hashtag for #selfcare? Of course there is; there’s a hashtag for everything. But when I scroll through the perfect little square pictures of colorful, nutritious-looking salads and selfies from the nail salon or the yoga retreat, I do not see my life.

I see another thing for my to-do list. Another thing I’m failing at. Another thing I feel guilty for letting go of when I got on this crazy train called motherhood.

Do I really need to find time for myself in each day? How? In between everything else I have on my plate? I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

The truth is that “self-care” means different things to different people, but it also means different things in different seasons of life.

I know I can’t give from a cup that’s empty.

I know I need to fit my own metaphorical oxygen mask before I assist others with theirs.

I know taking care of myself is vital if I’m going to be able to do my job as a mother.

I know that self-care and selfish are not the same thing. But putting it into practice is another matter.

The notion of self-care can be overwhelming and unnatural. Motherhood changed me forever, and now my version of self-care is different from what it was B.C. (before children). It’s a case of finding out what my altered self needs, and looking for ways to give it to her.

So I’m learning to give myself grace in the seasons.

In the heady, newborn days where time disappeared into a vortex and the days blurred into the nights, self-care meant survival. It meant giving love every hour of every day, and sleeping whenever the opportunity presented itself.

In the toddler years self-care was about asking for help—just for an hour at a time—so I could take a rest from the hyper-vigilance required to keep my daughters alive when there were plug sockets and flights of stairs to thwart my efforts.

And as my children get a tiny bit older, self-care is about finding certain things I want to prioritize over others. The weekly manicures of my twenties no longer seem like a necessity, but being fit and strong enough to keep up with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old does.

Nights out on the town with girlfriends can now be a quarterly event (we see each other in the playground most days anyway), but a quiet dinner alone with my husband to catch up with each other and align our frequencies is something much more pressing.

I like to run, so now I get up an hour earlier each morning to go and do that thing which brings me pleasure. I steal an extra hour and it makes me feel better about myself all day long —and that must be a good barometer for self-care.

I’ve discovered a great hair spray that temporarily covers greys so I don’t have to spend valuable hours in the salon to avoid feeling older than I am. I’ve found two reliable babysitters who my children adore, so I can plan date nights with my husband and accept weekend dinner party invitations without guilt.

I wash my face and apply moisturizer every night before I crawl gratefully towards my pillow. I write a gratitude journal and read a book for five minutes at night before I close my eyes. These are small things I can do, things I don’t feel intimidated by. Things I believe make me better at my day job—being mom.

But mostly, I accept that self-care means something very different to me in this season, and I choose to find the things that make me happy in the moments I share with my girls.

We dance. In the kitchen. A lot. We laugh. We read books. I listen to the things they want to tell me and I let them teach me to play again. They give me energy as well as take it, and in their company I feel replenished.

I’ve given myself the grace to stop expecting things of myself that I don’t have the bandwidth to give in this season.

And I know that one day, my girls will be grown, and then I’ll have far more time than I could ever want to focus on myself again.

14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

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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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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