Self-care is a laughable concept for most moms. I mean, what working mother has time to spend hours at a spa or on a skincare routine when she’s also handling the majority of the parenting responsibilities in tandem with her career? Luckily, moms are masters of weaving little moments of self-care into their super-packed days.

As the majority of us continue to shelter-in-place during the COVID-19 crisis — navigating the challenges of maybe working from home, facilitating our kids’ e-learning, maintaining a household, and worrying about the health of ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, total strangers, and the economy simultaneously — arguably now more than ever is the time to set up a mom-and-me skincare routine that can remind everyone at home that self-care is a radical act of self-love that should neither be ignored or taken for granted.

And since our children are always watching, these acts are beneficial for our kids as well, who can learn that motherhood is not synonymous with martyrdom, and that mom must and should take care of herself first — just like they need to tend to themselves first, too. This is a lesson that will age very well, as your kids develop more relationships of their own. They need to know that loving other people doesn’t mean putting yourself last!

Something as simple as a mom-and-me skincare routine can help facilitate not only a few serene moments for yourself, but it can also teach the concept of self-care to your child. Plus it’s super cute and fun. Here’s how to get in the habit:

1. Establish a set schedule

Kids and a predictable routine go together like Dr. Cristina Yang and a running whip stitch (shout out to all my Grey’s Anatomy fans). This is especially true the younger your child is. As Kathleen M. Reilly writes for Parents, “Figure out what tasks need to be done, and then line them up in the same order every day. Your toddler will love knowing that first he eats Cheerios for breakfast at his little table, then he gets dressed, and then he helps you feed the cat.”

To incorporate a skincare routine in your child’s nightly schedule, first talk it out. Let your child know that this is a new addition to their evening lineup. If you have a daily chore chart, write in “wash face” or “mom-and-me skincare time,” so they know what to expect as they prepare to end their evening. The same can be done for the beginning of the day.

2. Incorporate kid-friendly skin products

Children learn by imitating their parents, which is why they don’t want their cup — they want your cup. So if you’re hoping to establish a solid skincare routine you and your child can enjoy simultaneously, consider using skincare products that are kid-friendly as well, so your child won’t grow upset when they can’t use mom’s moisturizer or under-eye cream. The key is to find a product that can cleanse, moisturize, is antibacterial and germicidal, but won’t strip your child’s kind of its natural moisture and is, ideally, tear-free.

3. Refresh your own skincare arsenal

We’re not even going to dig into the elaborate calculus that goes into setting up your own skincare routine (that’s a whole other subject), but we will say right now feels like an especially good time to restock your favorites and/or try out something new. If you’re setting up a bedtime skincare ritual with your kids, maybe treat yourself to a new nighttime product.

4. Make a game out of it

There are plenty of ways to make a face-washing session or a face mask regimen not only relaxing but fun and engaging for the little buddy by your side. Whether it’s buying colorful washcloths for kids, singing songs while moisturizing, making funny faces, or applying kid-friendly face masks to each other. Honestly, this should be genuinely enjoyable for both of you, so do what you need to do to make that happen.

5. Encourage independence

Yes, a mommy-and-me skincare routine is a great way to share the act of self-care with your child, but if you really want to teach them how to maintain this practice in the future, you should also encourage them to do it independently. If your child is between the ages of 4 and 6, this is a time when they’re starting to learn independence. You can help facilitate that lesson by establishing what is expected of them — washing their face, putting the products away, etc. — and then setting aside a specific amount of time in which you expect them to complete that task.

6. Don’t fret if you skip a day (or three)

Right now is a time, if there ever was one, for understanding and adaptation. So while it is important to establish routines and stick with them, there will be days when it all gets away from you, and a nice skincare routine is simply not in the cards. Embrace the insanity, moms! Just say screw it and set your sights on tomorrow, because nothing will ruin a lighthearted part of your routine like your child feeling pressured to constantly maintain it.

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