Every so often, I see a meme come across my social media pages. It says something along the lines of “Pay attention to the mom who doesn’t have her hair perfectly styled, her nails done,” and so on. “They’re the ones putting their children first.”

While I understand what the post is trying to say, I realize it’s not something I can totally get on board with.

For a long time, I was in that position. I denied myself things I wanted, time for myself or even totally (to me) indulgent things such as getting my hair colored or an occasional mani/pedi.

I felt like taking the time or using the money to do that was selfish when I had kids and a husband to spend time with and bills to pay.

Then I realized something: It was dragging me down. As a result, I was easily losing my patience and was incredibly irritable.

So I decided to try something new. I decided to try taking some time for myself. I started attending Coffee & Canvas classes fairly regularly. About twice a year, I have my hair color touched up, and every couple months, I head out for a pedicure, sometimes going full bore and getting a manicure as well.

I also started exercising almost daily. An hour a day doesn’t seem like much, but sometimes squeezing it in can be a challenge. Just ask Colin, who has seen me bring my stuff along to his baseball practice so I can squeeze it in.

And you know what? It makes a difference. Taking an hour a day and a few additional hours about once of month has made me calmer, more confident and more energetic. It offers me a chance to have quality time with my family, not just “time spent,” such as parked in front of the TV and not engaging.

Now I find myself working to set aside time for other things instead, such as reading to Colin, playing a board or a card game or taking the dog for a walk.

Sometimes, he will try to pull the guilt trip on me. “Mommy, is exercising really more important than me?” In truth, no, it’s not. But becoming a better mommy is, and that’s what I tell him.

“No, it’s not. But doing this helps me be a better mommy and helps me be a healthy mommy.”

So fellow moms, don’t feel guilty about taking some time for yourself or spoiling yourself with a spa-type treatment. It’s not selfish. It’s self-care.

Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's magazine editor, leading production of "Ottumwa Life," the award-winning "Business People" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.