Chapter 22: Massage

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.

But like, right?!


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.

Not ideal.

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:

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)

And avoiding:

  • 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:

  1. Things you love doing
  2. 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. 

Kate x

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