Parenting

Do you feel bad when you spend money on yourself?

Amy recently treated herself to some makeup while out with a friend and now she's feeling a little guilty

I’m sitting at a department store makeup counter with my “bestie.” To celebrate her birthday, we’re both getting a free makeover. The works!

“With your colouring, I’m going to try white shimmer and plum on your eyes,” says our makeup artist. “Sound OK?”

I nod. How could I not trust this wizard with spiky black eyelashes, mini skirt, fishnets and a waist holster overflowing with makeup brushes? This shopping expedition is far from my usual hunter-gatherer forays to the grocery store for chicken and steel cut oats. And honestly, I’m loving it.

Finally, both my buddy and I are done. I check out the new me. Dreaded dark circles are diminished, zits are zapped, cheeks are glowing and my brown eyes magically look green. Somehow, it all looks natural. It still looks like me. Just a happier, more well-rested me.

I want it all: the tinted moisturizer, the bronzer, the eye shadow palette, the semi-nude lipstick. Hey, even the makeup brush set. I whip out my charge card and I do the deed. Then on the whole drive home, I’m wracked with guilt.

“I can’t believe I just spent all that on makeup,” I moan to my friend.

“That stuff will last you for years,” she says. “Just amortize it over time.”

She’s right. Honestly, I haven’t bought decent makeup in years. I’m just not used to spending money on myself. In a recent blog, Sandra Martin wrote she’s going on a “money diet,” foregoing any purchases until her birthday in March. But when you have a kid with special needs, the personal money diet can be endless.

As special-needs parents, we face the quintessential dilemma: How can we spend money on ourselves when we could be spending it on our kids? Many of us shell out for private therapies, support workers, equipment, specialized diets …the list goes on. And there’s always something more we could be buying or doing to help our kids.

Often I’m invited to speak at conferences to “special-needs parents” about self-care. I’ll never forget a mom who approached me after one of my presentations. “I can’t spend time or money on myself,” she said. “I can’t even buy myself a cup of coffee. Because I know that money could have gone to my kid’s therapies.”

But we do need and do deserve a little pampering. Even an inexpensive treat, can do a lot. But we have to know that we’re worth it. Do you have a hard time spending money on yourself?