There is a baseline of upkeep needed to stay on track so you don’t end up looking and behaving like a crazy cat lady. When I say baseline, I don’t mean you’ll be making strides or improving…by performing this short list of maintenance items you’re simply not getting any worse. There’s something to be said for that, ladies.
We’re busy moms, so generally speaking we come last. Unfortunately our physical appearance and immediate environment often reflects this (kudos to you fancy moms with the hip-but-age-appropriate wardrobe, neat fingernails and light make-up applied by school drop-off time – I am seriously impressed and a little afraid of you).
In the interest of self-preservation (ours and our family’s), I’ve compiled a list of routine maintenance items which should help mitigate the downward spiral. If you perform these tasks on a semi-regular basis, your husband shouldn’t complain much and you won’t scare the dog:
1. Shave your legs – Stubble is handsome on a man’s face – it makes him look rugged and mountain man-ish. Not so much for us girls when the 5 o’clock shadow is on our legs (or elsewhere). There is nothing vaguely European or hippie chic about us at this stage of our lives (there never really was), so don’t go there. Just try to shave. Daily.
2. Shower – It sounds simple, but so many skip this necessary morning ritual. You tell yourself you’ll shower ‘after the carpool’ or ‘after the gym’, then suddenly it’s 2:30 and the kids are home (oh, and you’re still in your gym clothes which have absorbed nary a bead of sweat because you ran out of time and didn’t make it to the gym again). There’s always tomorrow. Be honest: what is the longest you’ve gone without showering? If it’s more than 24 hours, you might want to re-think. You can even skip washing your hair every day if that’s holding you back, but believe me: your husband, kids, pets, neighbors and the Starbucks Barista want you to take a little ‘me’ time each day for a nice, hot shower.
3. Eat the same (or fewer) calories as you burn – Generally I try to avoid math, but with this maintenance tip you will need to work through a formula of calories that’s based on your weight and activity level (no, vacuuming is not cardio). There are all kinds of calculators online, so consider it homework. You see, if you continue eating at an alarming rate and don’t exercise, you will get bigger. I’ll throw this in as a bonus: you shouldn’t be eating what you feed your kids. I don’t care how fast your metabolism was when you were in your 20s or how many grams of ‘fiber’ Kraft claims they put in their day-glow orange mac & cheese. Just walk away or better yet, try to make something that once was alive and/or growing in the ground. Mindless eating is a big no-no for mamas because we can consume astounding amounts of food without even realizing it. Our superhuman mommy ability to multi-task works against us in this particular instance, so if you’re on the phone or checking email, move that bowl of Candy Corn into another room.
4. Limit the TV time – Are you retreating to the couch after dinner most nights? Do you and your husband have designated ‘spots’ where you sit in your family room? Do you know the names of all the contestants on The Amazing Race, Survivor, The Biggest Loser and every CSI (Miami, Los Angeles and Sioux Falls, right?)? Listen to me: your brain is turning to oatmeal (which you’re not eating and you should be). Reality TV is nothing but mental junk food, so while your body is dealing with that bag of Pirate’s Booty you’re snarfing, your mind is getting an equal serving of garbage. It doesn’t matter if you’re simultaneously folding laundry. You’re still absorbing the junk TV and it’s rotting your brain. Ask Santa for a Kindle.
5. Clean out your car – Your car is so gross. I know you’re busy taking the kids to their activities and running errands and I totally understand that sometimes there just isn’t time to empty the car every night, but do you realize that by allowing the paper, wrappers and water bottles to accumulate on the floor, you’re littering in your own car? You wouldn’t do this in your home (right?). Even if you’re organized, pack snacks for the kids ahead of time and skip the drive-thru (whatever…your nails probably look good too), I’ll bet you a bag of Goldfish that there is a wayward granola bar wrapper or dirty tissue hiding somewhere in that back seat. Still in the car seat phase? Take them out of the car before your next car wash so they can don the Hazmat suits and clean up under there (What’s that? Oh, a car wash is a place you go to get your car washed). And if you’re one of those moms that tolerates driving around with something rolling back-and-forth in the way back making an annoying noise every time you turn and you make no attempt to figure out what it is? Just forget it. Have fun wading through the nuclear fallout every time you get in the car, and don’t offer to drive to your next ladies’ lunch.
6. Figure Out Your Toes. Would that we could spend an hour each week treating ourselves to a relaxing spa pedicure. Our toes always look so pretty afterwards (have you ever forgotten to bring flip-flops and then been forced to wear the disposable size 25 variety they give out at the salon? Cute). In this tight economy, not everyone can spare the extra $25 ($10 more for extra massage!) so our toes are looking a little haggard. The problem with jacked-up toes is that feet are ugly already, so when your toe maintenance slides we have a real blight on our hands (feet). Some signs that it’s time to do a little toescaping: Are your toenails growing over the tops of your toes? Are the edges sharp enough to cut glass? Is your toe hair (yes, you do have it so don’t pretend you don’t and don’t act all grossed out that I brought it up) long enough to braid? Now here’s the million dollar question: does your daughter have a nicer and more current pedicure than you (additional 10-point deduction if she has a flower). Time to skip the cable bill and go get a pedi.
I would not want to discriminate, so here are some quick down-and-dirty tips for the guys:
1. It’s not Animal Kingdom. Please weed whack you-know-where at least once a month;
2. I guarantee your toenails are worse than ours. You severed a carotid the other night in bed and I almost bled out. Cut them;
3. Please, just for one night, can you leave the logo wear (i.e. golf shirts, team jerseys and accumulated logo t-shirts) in your closet and put on a button-down?
4. Put a dryer sheet in your gym shoes every night or leave them out back next to the pile of dog sh*t because that’s what they smell like;
5. Socks = on feet, in hamper or in sock drawer. We cannot simplify it anymore than that.