Sometimes Self-Care Looks Like Staying In My Nightgown All Day

by Colleen Dilthey Thomas
Originally Published: 
Lucy Lambriex/Getty

I have been known on occasion to drive my children to school in my nightgown. Okay, it’s more like every single day. Most of the time when I get home, I shower and get dressed. It may not be fancy, but I am at least a tad bit put together.

But there are other days when I pick up my kids in the same nightgown that I had on at drop off. It’s my personal form of self-care. And you know what? That’s OK.

There are days when I just can’t do it. Sometimes, I stay in my nightgown all day long and watch Hallmark movies while I write. I eat peanut butter from the jar and I drink one Diet Coke after another. Yes, I am lucky. I freelance and work from home so I have the ability to take time to myself that others don’t have the freedom to do. I don’t take that for granted. And for my own mental health, I need it.

The idea of self-care is thwarted in our society; this is particularly true for moms. We can’t always be the chauffeur, the maid, the cook, the teacher, the cheerleader, the nurse, and the person who fills the dog bowl. Somewhere along the line, we have to be ourselves — just our simple selves. We need to forget about all of the rest of it for a minute or two and be selfish.

I’m not talking about taking a week in Mexico to center yourself. There are not many of us that have that kind of time or money, but a nice hot bath is something that most of us can do from time to time. Even if it means getting up a few minutes earlier in the morning to have a cup of coffee in peace, that is necessary for everyone.

I don’t know about you, but for me, being tasked with being everything to everybody all of the time gets overwhelming. My husband is extremely hands-on with our kids, and yet I still feel like I’m drowning sometimes. I give all of the credit in the world to those who are doing these things as single parents, or with less-involved partners. My respect for you is immense.

If I don’t take a minute for myself every once in a while, I am going to blow. And I have blown. It is not pretty. I always feel crappy afterward. There is a part of me that gets a bit of satisfaction when I scream, but then the guilt comes in. I look at my kids’ faces and I realize that I have broken them. That isn’t fair and it isn’t nice. So if staying in my nightgown for a day is gonna help prevent that? I’m all for it.

While my children are the source of much of my frustration, it isn’t their fault. My husband and I wanted a family, and we are raising a large one with four kids. That was our choice and I have to be able to handle the responsibilities that come along with that choice. I understand all of that. But somewhere along the line, I sometimes lose sight of who I am. That is where the problem lies: I can’t lose me.

There is a big part of me that needs to drive around in my minivan and listen to rap music. I love to head back to the ’90s when life was easy and carefree. I need that music to make me feel like the person that I once was. There is a part of me that wants to go to Target, by myself, and walk the aisles slowly. I don’t have to spend a fortune; I just need time to not be answering a question or wiping a snotty nose. I want to spend an hour getting lost on TikTok and that’s OK. We all need that in our lives.

If you want to stay in your pajamas all day, do it. Would it be a dream come true for you to eat an entire order of McDonald’s French fries without sharing? Get yourself a large fry and a Diet Coke, like me, and eat it in your driveway before you go into the house. Text your best friend and meet them at the park that you hung out in during your high school years and just reminisce. It is OK to take some time for you. You are worth it.

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