Self care vs self maintenance: what’s the difference?

Self care vs self maintenance can be separated by a fuzzy line. I truly believe everyone has a different definition – as a mom of 4, here’s mine!

self care vs self maintenance - what's the difference? for moms. Photo of woman with short hair looking out the window with a white coffee cup in her hand.

Making the distinction between self care and self maintenance is very important. Drinking hot coffee and eating a hot meal should not be considered a luxury. Unfortunately, in today’s world, that is what is perceived. These things are necessary for our day and need to be met before considering self care.

As moms, we need to understand that the definition of “selfish” is not bad. There should not be a negative connotation to the word. We need to be selfish to be at our best.

But what is the difference? How do we know if it’s self care or self maintenance?

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What is self maintenance?

Self maintenance is different than self care. Self maintenance are tasks you do during the day to stay functioning and that you can do with the kids around. So, showering, scrolling your phone, eating meals (hot or otherwise), drinking your water, etc. You may or may not enjoy them, but they’re necessary. It means to literally maintain yourself, day to day.

These are also quick breaks that allow you to stay sane! Reading a book while the kids are playing, getting your own coloring sheets while the kids are playing, taking a ride in the car to pick up groceries, going grocery shopping, etc.

What are examples of self care?

Self care goes a step above self maintenance. Self care is prioritizing yourself to do something that benefits you and your mood. As a parent, it’s something that doesn’t involved the tiny humans!

It can be waking up early before your kids to be alone, watching a show you enjoy alone, date night with your spouse, girls’ night, picking up a hobby, blogging, etc. This goes above and beyond general care of yourself.

It is absolutely something that you enjoy. You should not feel burdened doing your self care activities. It should not feel like a chore.

It doesn’t have to be a spa weekend or trip away!

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What is the difference between self care and self maintenance/management?

Self care vs self maintenance can have a blurry line. I truly think it looks different for everyone. So for me, I like to make that line a little more clear. Self maintenance is taking care of yourself day to day. Showering, eating, brushing your teeth, etc. This can also include taking care of yourself mentally for short, quick breaks. Putting the kids in front of the TV or giving them something that will keep them busy while you read a book, scroll social media, drink hot coffee. You might enjoy it, you might not.

I understand that some moms can hardly get the self maintenance things done because of depression, unruly kids, exhaustion, etc. But sometimes, forcing yourself to do them or understanding how they make you feel is the push you truly need. Go a whole day making sure your basic needs are met and then focus on adding the self care. You might just realize how much better things can be with both!

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