Is Self-Care Selfish? by Amber Khan

Mothers: Do you remember the last time you took a nice long, relaxing bath?

Do you feel guilty about indulging in such activities because it could be spend doing the leftover ironing or hoovering which you have been putting off for days?

“ There’s no problem so awful, that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.”
― Bill Watterson, from The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

I was at a conference day before yesterday, which happens to be a saturday. While networking, I met a lady & the subject of motherhood came up. When she found out that I have 2 young kids, immediately her tone changed from friendly to accusatory. Asking me shouldn’t I be at home with the kids being a weekend as we already don’t spend enough time with our kids in today’s hectic lives?

Firstly, don’t we mothers feel enough guilt ourselves that someone else, in fact another mother wishes to burden your conscious further?

So I said, I spend many a special moments with my kids but I don’t need to be with them every second of the day, week or month. I’m here because i wanted to be here. I feel no shame in spending time & money on my personal development & networking with the like-minded people (allbeit on a saturday). On this very day, my kids are spending quality time with their dad & their aunt, they’ll be fed & well looked after in my absence & when I return home, the joy of listening to all their stories would be immense. So what is so harmful to them in such a situation that I should be worried about & heading home right now?

Needless to say that our conversation was cut short & she left with a disapproving look on her face.

It is a common belief in the society that if a mother puts her needs before her kids than she is being selfish. Really? What good a mother be if she is feeling ill, stressed & exhausted? What good a mother be if she isn’t able to stimulate all her senses? What good a mother be if she’s neglecting her health? What good a mother be if she’s losing her mind in the vicious cycle of guilt?

PRESS STOP! Mothers, you need not feel guilty about looking after your needs, your health & well-being. Your family’s well-being depends on you (majority of the times) & hence YOUR well-being comes first.

About the Author

Amber Khan is a Lifestyle Mentor, Speaker, Author, sports enthusiast and a proud mum of three.

She is the founder of Guilt Free Living which provides tools for the mothers to help them live a fulfilling, healthy & energised lifestyle.

She has ran retreats, given talks and written articles on the importance of wellness and how to re-energise the tired minds and bodies of mothers.

Amber currently resides in London, UK with her husband and their three children.

Her latest book is the nonfiction/parenting/motherhood book, Guilt Free Motherhood: A 5-Step Guide to Reclaiming Your Time, Health & Well-Being.

You can connect with Amber via website | Facebook | Twitter

About Guilt Free Motherhood

“Own your happiness. Reclaim your well-being. Make a guilt-free lifestyle, your choice of living!

•    Do you think being a 'super mum' is your only option?
•    Do you neglect your own health while caring for others?
•    Do you struggle to maintain a happy work/life balance?
•    Do you often feel stressed and burnt-out? Then you may be suffering from 'Mummy Guilt'.

Guilt Free Motherhood will guide you to:•    Ignite your passion to bring balance to your life;
•    Take practical steps towards self-care;
•    De-clutter your space, schedules and relationships;
•    Let go of the 'super mum' and the 'control freak' inside of you;
•    Practical ways of recharging your batteries.

A mother's journey should not be, and need not be, a GUILT trip. Guilt Free Motherhood gives you the tools you need to start living a more contented, healthy and energised lifestyle today - right in the midst of motherhood.”

Buy the Book


I think you’ll agree that the most important emotional issue a majority of mothers face, especially twenty-first century mothers, is the feeling of guilt. The spectrum of guilt is wide and varied, ranging from feeling guilty about not doing enough for your children, to feeling guilty about spending time or money on your own well-being, with hundreds more guilty feelings in between. I believe that a mother’s journey should not be, and need not be, a guilt trip. 

The purpose of this book is to show how a mother can live a refreshing, blissful and blossoming lifestyle through a guided five-step process by letting go of the mummy guilt that makes us sacrifice our health, career and relationships.  

Mummy guilt can be defined as the feeling of self-condemnation that we experience when thoughts of spending time and money on ourselves seem selfish. It can also be understood as the constant worry we feel for our kids which eventually turns into guilt. In fact, anyone caring for children is bound to experience similar guilty feelings. 

Mummy guilt can start as early as when the pink stripes show up on your pregnancy test. I used to feel guilty about anything when I was expecting my first child. The first trimester was very tough. I could hardly keep food down, felt nauseous and weak, and worried constantly how it would affect the growth of my baby. Guilt sowed its seeds in me at the very start of my motherhood journey.  

Later on, if I left kids at home with hubby for an hour or two, I felt guilty. When I went to work after dropping my baby at the nursery, I felt guilty. When I decided to be a stay-at-home mum, I felt guilt about abandoning my career. When I wanted to join the gym (to lose the extra 20kg I had gained during pregnancy) and regain my self-confidence, I felt guilty about spending that time and money on myself. Even going out (once in a blue moon) with friends, always turned into a guilt trip. Is a mother taking care of herself to keep her sanity and health, really a selfish act?  

Well in my case the lack of self-care eventually turned into health problems. Back problems, weak joints, weak and injury-prone muscles, and I was only in my twenties! Problems that, you’d normally associate with old age, maybe. For almost a decade I neglected my health; it eventually took my left knee giving way to make me realise that if I didn't take care of myself now, I would soon end up miserable, in pain and maybe even run out of recovery options. What good would I be to my family then? Will husband have to quit work simply to look after me and the kids?  

I know most of us are constrained by financial or support issues. I should know! Aged twenty-three, new mum, in a new country with no friends or family -- that was me over a decade ago. I tried to be a ‘supermum’ thinking I could manage it all. Even when my husband offered to help I’d often decline, thinking I could do it better because a job half done, or not finished to my standards, would only frustrate me more. I neglected my health, and felt stressed and exhausted most of the time. I was trapped by mummy guilt.