It wasn’t too long ago that I’d lock myself into the bathroom every evening to do my skincare ritual, while my 3 kids were bouncing around in their pre-bedtime hyper overdrive. After a day packed with work, errands, homework and cooking, I just wanted to have 5 minutes to myself, to cleanse and treat my face. Predictably, the kids would knock on the door, demanding entry. I would try to ignore them, while my husband would attempt to distract them, often to no avail.
But recently, I made the conscious decision to leave the bathroom door open and – GASP – invite them to witness my nightly ritual. Why in the world would I voluntarily give up my 5 minutes of sanity? Perhaps part of me felt that by NOT making a secret of it, they’d lose interest and leave me alone. But another part of me actually decided that I wanted them to see how Mommy was taking care of herself. Because the truth is, 99% of the time, they just see me in a state of hectic multi-tasking, my face alternating between tense and distracted. They don’t actually ever see me in the act of taking care of myself, because I usually try to do so without them being present.
So by inviting them into the bathroom, I give them an opportunity to witness my transformation: How my shoulders would drop, how my eye brows would go back up, and how my breathing would slow down.
It all starts with washing my face, which is my favorite step, because it’s like pushing a big re-set button. It’s a signal to myself that I am letting go of baggage, at least in the moment: I am freeing my mind and soul of tension that’s built up over the course of a day, just like I am cleansing and rinsing my skin of dirt and debris. The kids witness the full effect of my dropping that baggage when I finally grab a towel, bury my face in it and DEEPLY, AUDIBLY EXHALE. Ahhh…re-set!
Next are my treatment steps, toner, serum, moisturizer etc. Here I think my kids are fascinated by how I touch – almost caress – my own face. Throughout the day, they see me hold my chin when I ruminate, slap my forehead when I remember, scratch my head when I’m at a loss, rub my eyes when I am tired… yes, I touch my face often, but caress?
During my ritual, from massaging my face to patting cream around eye and cheek bones while I tilt and turn my head, the kids see their typically rushed mother paying attention and being in the moment with herself. The result? I am not sure if my kids notice my refreshed, dewy skin, but for sure they see how at the end, I look in the mirror and flash a big smile – at myself.
The kids don’t always stay for the whole thing. They often ask questions and demand I share the goods, which I do sometimes. Who knows what their actual take-away is from watching Mommy treat her face. At some point, they will lose interest, and I will get back my 5 minutes of alone time. Until then, I’ll let them see my daily transformation through my skincare ritual, how important it is, in hopes that they will too make self-care a part of their toolbox for life.