What Are We Teaching Our Children About Self-Care? - by Abby Herman for MotherHustle
“I think we owe it to our children to show them what it’s like to take ownership and make the changes we need to make so we don’t need an escape from our own lives.”

As a single mom to a teenager, I think my self-care looks a bit different than the traditional mom. (And for what it’s worth, is there really such a thing as “traditional mom” anymore? Any June Cleavers out there?)

From the time my daughter was 2 years old, I was on my own to find pockets of time to take care of myself. And even though it might have been challenging, it wasn’t impossible.

Self-care means a lot of different things to different people. Some women like to be pampered with massages and pedicures and fancy spa treatments. Some women prefer to shop, spoiling themselves and their children with gifts big and small. Some love to soak in a tub, wine glass in hand.

For me, self-care has always been just a break from the norm. A step away from where life is right now and into something new.

When my daughter was young, that meant regular happy hours with my teacher friends. Because nothing is more opposite of teaching than sitting in a bar and drinking, right!? Except when you walk into a bar and see your most “outgoing” student’s dad, who then offers to buy you a drink. (Awkward!) Yes, I earned it. No, I didn’t accept.

As my daughter got older, my self-care turned into running to counterbalance my happy hour habit.

After all, one can only drink so many beers and eat so many bar foods before it starts to take a toll on one’s rear end. Trust me. I know.

Now that my daughter is a teen and we recently started looking at colleges together, self-care has shifted yet again. Now it’s about cramming all the fun I can possibly have with my daughter into the time we have left before she flees the coop.

It’s about really showing her that there’s a difference between self-care and just numbing yourself from life by drinking, eating and exercising ad nauseam.

I also want her to know that taking care of yourself (aka self-care) includes eating the right foods to fuel your body, exercising regularly and drinking enough water. It also means that you’re doing the things you love and surrounding yourself with people who support you and meet you halfway in life and in love. It’s about learning and growing as a person through personal development and education.

Fancy spa treatments have always felt like a waste of what limited disposable income I had.

And as someone who has a difficult time sitting still for more than 10 minutes, it sounds painful and unpleasant.

But thinking about where I am in life right now, curmudgeon that I am, I have to ask the question: Do we really want to teach our daughters, our children, that the way to decompress from a hard day is a drink in hand, bar food on the plate and spending money on the spa?

Knowing where I’ve been, the answer is a resounding “no.”

If we’ve made our lives that stressful and difficult, I think we owe it to our children to show them what it’s like to take ownership and make the changes we need to make so we don’t need an escape from our own lives.

The more thought and purpose we put behind our own self-care, the better we teach our children about balance and perspective — and the more knowledge they have when it’s time to send them out into the world to find their own definition of self-care.


MotherHustle panelist Abby Herman is a content strategist and content coach for small business owners, helping to get her clients’ written message out to their audience, in their own voice and on their own terms. She specializes in working with female-owned, service-based businesses to generate ideas and strategies that help to move their businesses forward with content that attracts the perfect clients. Abby firmly believes in the power of educating and empowering business owners so they can grow their businesses without breaking the bank. Community over competition is truly her jam!

When she’s not crafting words or coaching her clients through their own writing roadblocks, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in Phoenix or finding new ways to get her teenaged daughter to take a break from the school books and technology. You can follow her on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

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