Even when we manage to find time for it, a new study from Birchbox finds that moms feel guilty when they take time for self-care
There have been tons of studies about how important it is for all people to engage in self-care, whether it means exercising, relaxing, engaging in your favorite activity, or getting a little extra sleep. But finding time for yourself, especially when you’re in a relationship or a parent, can be extremely difficult, and a new study has found that even when moms do find the time to treat ourselves, we are riddled with guilt about it.
The study, conducted by Kelton Global and funded by beauty box company Birchbox, surveyed over 1,000 adults across the country. And their findings contain a lot of interesting information about how we view self-care, how the different generations engage in self-care, and what gets in the way of getting enough me-time.
First and most depressing of all: two in five people (40%) feel they rarely have time for themselves each day, and (not surprisingly) even more parents (45%) than childless people (32%) say that simply don’t have time to engage in caring for themselves. Also not super surprisingly, singletons are more likely to regularly make time for self-care than those who are married or in a relationship (42% versus 30%).
And even when parents do miraculously take the time to engage in self-care, they don’t even feel good about it — they feel guilty.
Here are some more interesting facts from the report:
While three in 10 parents wish that they spent more time taking care of themselves, 39% feel guilty to take time (as compared to 26% of those without kids), and 21% often don’t engage in self-care because of the guilt.
That’s right: we feel guilty for recharging our batteries, exercising, napping — even having sex. Or to put it another way, parents can’t even relax when we’re trying to relax.
There are also pretty stark gender divides about self-care. For example, even though more moms than dads are more likely to feel both overwhelmed (66% versus 53%) and burnt out (54% versus 43%), more men than women stated that they consistently make time for self-care (39% versus 32%) and men are more likely than women to block off time for themselves in their calendars (34% versus 26%).
Men are also more likely than women to be willing to say no to social engagements in exchange for some time for themselves (87% versus 81%) — we’re guessing perhaps because women are more likely to be judged for skipping social obligations, or because moms feel more pressure to attend social obligations involving their kids.
Even though women are more likely to think that taking care of their bodies is a form of self-care — 76 percent of us feel that way, compared to 68 percent of men — women are more likely than men to skip their beauty routine or grooming routine because they were too tired (68% versus 57%) or had chores to do (38% versus 31%).
Men and women even define self-care differently. For example, moms are more likely than dads to equate self-care with taking a nap (64% versus 47%). We have no idea what the people who don’t think napping is self-care are thinking, but we’re sure we don’t want to know them in person.
Why aren’t we taking more time for self-care? Two-thirds (67%) of all Americans in the survey said that they put others ahead of themselves. Overall, work (31%), caring for their family members (28%), other commitments like volunteering or studying (22%), and social engagements (17%) were some of the top listed reasons for everyone. But for moms, caring for others is the biggest reason we don’t care for ourselves — 42 percent say they’d take better care of themselves if not for their partners, parents, and kids.
The biggest reason for men to skip self-care? Work.
There are many, many benefits of self-care. It reduces stress, it makes us healthier, it improves our quality of life, and it even improves our thinking and overall mental health. And if those selfish reasons still aren’t enough for you to take some alone time to recharge, consider that self-care also makes you a better parent, worker, and caregiver because you’re healthier, more energized, kinder, and sharper.
With all that said: ditch the guilt (just this once, please), and be sure to engage in some pampering, whether it’s a face mask or a cat nap or a novel or Netflix. Moms deserve at least that much.