In my experience, self-care is very strongly correlated with not losing your damn mind.
Especially as a mum.
But also just as a human person.
Because honestly, the alternative might be Britney 2007.
There’s something about the term “self-care” that makes me think of white towel robes, single-use slippers, and a good deep tissue massage.
… Man, I love a massage …
Although, do I?!
Because recent memory would indicate that I do not.
Cue: Kate’s Top 3 Weird Massage Stories
*Disclaimer: Spa names have been (lightly) changed because I don’t want them to get mad at me.
1. Summer* – I was recently given a voucher for this lovely jazzy little place in Wellington. I decided on a back massage as I have Quasimodo posture and a small child who uses my hips as a chair.
Cue: a lovely bit of deep tissue to soften and mould my muscles back into their natural order.
Except, she started off very strong.
Like, Terminator strong.
And I didn’t say anything.
I thought: Maybe my shoulders are so bad, being panel-beaten by a small South East Asian woman is the only option?
And also: Maybe this is how I’m going to die?
“How’s the pressure?” she asked, like every masseuse ever
And instead of answering honestly, and saying I felt like I was being slowly pummeled to death, I said:
[Narrator: She was not fine.]
I had bruises for two weeks.
Life lesson: Speak up
2. Some Woman’s House: A little while ago, I went for a facial and massage with a beauty therapist a colleague of mine recommended.
Except the appointment was at the therapist’s home salon.
Which was fine.
Until she was sitting behind me, massaging my shoulders and decolletage, and I was like … this might be how I die.
Life lesson: You don’t have to do things that make you feel uncomfortable
3. Cheers – Quite a while ago, my gorgeous husband gave me a very large voucher for an award-winning day spa in Lower Hutt.
It’s not often one gets to have a Real Housewives-level beauty treatment, so I was excited to try something different and e x p e n s i v e.
Casting aside basic white chick options like a mani-pedi or blow-out, I decided to go for a hydrotherapy treatment involving scrubbing, body masks, and water-jet massage.
How daring! How chic!
It all started very well. I was ushered upstairs into a lovely, dimly lit room and given a plush white robe to get changed into.
But when I emerged, things started to take a turn.
For one, my beauty therapist – whom I was about to get basically naked in front of – was a girl I half-knew from High School.
She ushered me into a dark, tiled, morgue-like room, and I lay down in all my paper-g-string-ed glory.
And then I heard groans coming from next door.
Presumably it was a man getting very vocal about his massage, but I did very seriously wonder for a number of minutes whether the day spa was actually a front for more salacious business.
Then things got worse.
It turns out, the hydrotherapy treatment really is a full-body affair, and I really am a prude.
There’s just something not quite right about someone sugar-scrubbing your stomach …
And to be honest, the mask wasn’t much better. After being painted on, I was wrapped up like a claustrophobic caterpillar, and awkwardly lay there like a sausage for a v e r y long time.
And then came the water.
Sorry, “hydrotherapy massage”, which kind of just felt like I was lying in a bath with the shower on. Except there was also a girl I knew from 6 form there.
S I G H.
All in all, in my ranking of awkward life experiences that are funny on reflection, it sits:
- Just above getting trapped in a dress in the Valley Girl changing rooms and being saved/forcibly removed by a random girl’s mum
- And just below having a cervical polyp dry-iced off my vaheen by a lovely turbaned OB-GYN who farewelled me with a fist bump.
Ah, what a life I’ve lived.
Life lesson: Theres nothing wrong with a basic white chick mani-pedi.
Love, actually – is a good massage
After a (g)string of wildly unfortunate massage experiences, I actually had a really glorious one not so long ago.
My shoulders and back were basically in pieces from the daily realities of mum-ing, so my loving husband treated me to a massage voucher (this time, not with my high school alumni and a shower, thank God …) but with a wonderful woman at Body Balance Massage in Lower Hutt who had fantastic Google Reviews for sports massage.
She was sensational. And I didn’t even leave covered in bruises or shame.
10/10 would recommend.
But for real, what actually is self-care?
I know I’ve talked a lot about day spas and white robes in this blog post, but that isn’t actually the only definition of self-care.
Self-care should be practiced daily, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or involve ylang ylang scented oil.
For me, daily self-care looks like:
- Listening to funny podcasts on my commute
- Wearing makeup
- Regular exercise
- Eating lots of fruit, veges and hot cross buns
- Drinking coffee
- Bible time
- Taking time for hobbies (writing, improv)
- Comparing myself to others (or the me I “should” be)
- Eating lots of sugar and fried food
- Dwelling on negative things.
I know myself, and I know what makes me feel happy and well, and what makes me feel yuck and like I want to karate chop people – and I try to adjust my day accordingly.
As a starting point, I recommend writing two lists:
- Things you love doing
- Things you do every day.
If List 1 looks very different to List 2, I strongly recommend you inject a little bit of self-care into your day.
Even if it’s just one thing.
Your future self will thank you for it (and so will your partner and kids!). Because self-care is not selfish.
Self-care = a happier you
A happier you = a person more likely to turn up for their life with enthusiasm and positivity, and who has greater levels of patience and grace for others.
The real result of self-care is that you become a person other people feel better for having been around, and my friend, that is anything but selfish.
Do you struggle to practice self-care? Are you a mum? I BET YOU ARE! We’re NOTORIOUS at being Mama Martyr. Go take some time for yourself, babe. You bloody deserve it, and honestly, you and the whole family will benefit.