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Is Self-Care a Bad Word?

Is Self-Care a Bad Word?

At age seven, my younger daughter was delightfully ignorant of swear words. She hadn’t heard them, never said them, and didn’t even know such language existed—until one day she came home from school with this story.

“Mom, Jackson said the ‘S’ word today.”

I turned toward her with my eyebrows raised, looked square into her sweet face, and played all nonchalant. “He did? Well, that wasn’t very nice.” And then, because I figured this conversation was doomed from the start, I asked the leading question. “What did he say?”

“Well, we were playing a game at recess, and he got mad and said the game was, you know... stupid!”

“Stupid? He said—stupid? The ‘S’ word?”

“Yes, Mom!” Her eyes grew wide and she pushed her knuckles into her knees. “Don’t keep saying it! You know it’s a bad word!”

Oh, the innocence of children. I’ll cling to it as long as I can.

As grown-ups, we might allow ourselves a few more liberties in language, yet most of us do and should avoid certain words as improper or ungodly. The trouble comes when we add words to the “naughty” list that God never intended to be there.

Like self-care.

Is self care just another way to say “me time?”  Is it how we moms justify selfishness, or does it hold a proper place in our spiritual lives? Here’s God’s heart for your rest, and your flourishing. Spoiler alert- it may include a nap!

What? You can’t say that in a parenting blog! We’re mothers, for heaven’s sake—we care for other people, not ourselves! Serve, give, sacrifice—these are the tenets of our job description!

Perhaps. But not at the expense of our bodies and souls.

In many Christian mom circles, self-care is the new “S” word. We avoid it for the sake of piety. We believe a truly loving mother will cast herself aside for the good of her children, and to some degree that is true. Motherhood is a selfless, demanding, heart-wrenching calling for which the rewards far outweigh the sacrifice.

But what happens when we allow ourselves to get so run down that we’re useless to everyone around us—especially our children? Is that the work of a “good” Christian mom? I don’t think so.

Neither does God.

Unless the Lord builds a house, the builders’ work is useless. Unless the Lord protects a city, sentries do no good. It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing you will starve to death; for God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest. (Psalm 127:1-2, TLB)

When we work, work, work and serve, serve, serve our families with no respect for our own need for “proper rest”—which means not only sleep or relaxation but also time spent with God—our efforts are futile. God must be in charge. Trouble is, many of us are too busy trying to do His job.

We are faulty human beings. We have limits. And when we hit those limits, our moods suffer. Ironically, not taking care of ourselves can become the very root of our grouchiness and completely defeat the goal of motherly kindness. Therefore, self-care is not selfish. It’s a critical component in godly parenting.


This post contains an excerpt from The Cranky Mom Fix (Bethany House/Baker Publishing). Used by permission.

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What can you do this week to take care of yourself? How can you rest and refuel your body and soul? For more wisdom on how to prioritize self-care and bless your family in the process, I invite you to explore my new book, The Cranky Mom Fix: Get a Happier, More Peaceful Home by Slaying the “Momster” in All of Us.

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