A Healthy Checklist for Toxic Mom Toolkit

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BUY Toxic Mom Toolkit by Rayne WolfeRecently, around the one year anniversary of leaving my newspaper job I had a come-to-Jesus talk with myself about work.

What makes sense for me now at my age?

What is really important to me, to my husband and to our banker in terms of earning money?

Is it really all about money or can I be brave enough to seek a truly healthy life/work balance? Everyone wants challenging work but at what level of stress? What’s the right formula for a happy, balanced life for me?

And what does job-hunting have to do with toxic mothers and my Toxic Mom Toolkit book project?

Well — don’t look now but I actually may have found a job that I’d love. I won’t tell you anything about it because I don’t want to jinx it and it’s not mine YET. (Even though everyone I know on Facebook has been asked to wish on hay trucks for me to land it.)

The prospect of returning to a real Monday through Friday job made me realize that after a year of total freedom (and valid health insurance) I still hadn’t made any time to take care of myself the way (I guess) other girls do.

Example: How long has it been since I had my cute teeth checked and cleaned?

We have a wonderful lady dentist who has an amazing front desk scheduler. She’s the type of gal who can be put off five times in a row and still sound on the sixth call that she likes you anyway. So, thinking that I might return to work I realized that I’m way overdue for everything yet I’m burning a lot of energy avoiding all sorts of check-ups. Because, you know, in addition to not being able to ask for help, believe I have devoted friends or answer the doorbell, I’m also not good at taking care of myself.

Adding to my self guilt my poor husband asked me to please be sure to schedule my annual check up. He cajoled. He pleaded. The other night he pulled out all stops. I confess, I felt ashamed when I heard his offer. No, maybe not ashamed – more like really, really stupid.

“Honey, I know you don’t like going to doctors. But I need you to go because I’m going to be very angry with you if you put it off much longer and something is found later that could have been easily addressed,” he said.

“So, here’s my offer. If you go get your girl check up I’ll…”

What do you think my husband would consider the biggest bribe he could offer me?

  • Diamonds?
  • A European vacation?
  • A new car?
  • A Gurka houseman?
  • This is how much my husband cares for me. He offered me the absolute ultimate Rayne bribe.
  • “If you go get a girl check up I’ll…get you a puppy.”

And STILL I haven’t made any appointments!

So, I wrote myself a list of things for daughters of toxic mothers like me, who have a tendency of putting themselves last, need to do at least once a year. Heck, maybe twice per year for a couple of them.  It should be a part of your toxic mom toolkit.

A Healthy Checklist for Toxic Mom Toolkit:

1. You have nothing without your health.

That’s why each year we should have a physical check up including special girl tests including the dreaded mammogram, which I hate and haven’t had since there was a Bush in the White House. That’s first on my list of things to do before I go back to work despite the New York Times news article saying they’re no big deal anymore. I believe mammograms save lives.

2. Get your eyes checked.

This is true even if you don’t wear glasses or contacts. Did you know that many brain tumors are discovered by optometrists? That’s how my dad found out. That’s why they turn the lights out and shine that penlight into each eyeball. They can see through your eyeballs and can catch a brain tumor in time to save your life. Plus, with all our hours using screens, we need to take care of our eyes.

3. Recommit to regular exercise.

Every month I burn $78 with a match for the privilege of swimming to hip-hop music when the mood hits me. But I can change and so can you. I could add cardio. I could commit to weekly yoga. I could (gulp) use a personal trainer. Find something you like to do that gets your heart rate up and do it even if it’s only walking the dog regularly.

4.Care for your hair.

At the risk of sounding trite, if you’re not already in a relationship with your hairdresser, find a great one and get a good haircut. It can be life changing. It should be life-changing.

5. Schedule an hour massage.

Not a half-hour massage — splurge on a whole hour to work the kinks from stress, responsibilities, worries. You can’t afford it? In my town there is a massage school with rates starting at $29 a session. You can afford that. Or treat yourself to a pedicure that includes a calf and foot massage.

So many daughters of toxic mothers I know struggle with contrary impulses and emotions. It seems that the impulse to be good to ourselves rarely surfaces and when it does we hope it sinks like a bee in a pool.

Take a look at that list again.

You and I both know every woman really needs to do all these things each year. But here’s the catch. Don’t be afraid to feel good about doing it. Don’t ask anyone if you can do it; just do it. You are deserving of good health, fun physical activity and nurturing personal services. You and me both.

And if you want to take a big chance you can express your love by asking your loved ones to see their doctor, dentist, eye doctor, hair dresser and masseuse, too.

Toxic mother survivors – be good to yourself!


  • Heather Montgomery, CEO & serial entrepreneur

    I totally laughed with you at the check-up list. I now have no excuse since my husband is back in corporate which means incredible insurance. And I haven’t scheduled any of the important appointments yet.

    Cath and I were just talking about this on another Saturday work day (launching takes time!) and how important health is.

    We all have to take care of ourselves – and if bribing works, I say go for it! Hugs – H

  • I’m with Veronica! <3 Lucky woman you are to have a man who cares so much! <3 Beautiful pic by the way Rayne… <3

    Wishing you luck on the new job and all decisions and all that's coming up for you… We are here cheering you on!



  • Veronica

    Well the best I can say is : I too have not taken care of myself. Being self employed has its downsides.
    I say what a gift to have a man in your life that actually cares and loves you enough to want you healthy, that is the gift….bribe?
    Good job girl.

  • Yuk, I hate this topic, and it’s so needed! Health is the ultimate Wealth. I’m good with the dentist, but mamos, chick checks, and colon stuff, not so much. I’m always surprised when women come in for a massage and feel guilty the whole time. Raising three kids has taught me how to enjoy a massage and a vacation……guess it’s time to embrace the colonoscopy.
    Thanks Rayne
    I’m holding positive job thoughts for you!!
    Love, Laurie
    PS I am doing the puppy thing right now and it’s heavenly. I’m incredibly in love with this little
    guy. I’ll put some photos on facebook. He’s darling!

  • Rayne

    Yeah! I’m very happy that I could inspire you to make an important appointment!
    And you! Little Miss “I can type for 15 hours straight” don’t forget to step away from the screen and stretch!!!

  • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

    Ah, we dreamers know this story all too well. Everything having to do with self-care goes on hold while we launch, launch, launch. You’ve reminded me to take care of something I’ve been putting off.

    Thank God for Laurie always barking at me to come to dance class and get a massage. She is relentless about reminding me to take care of myself. I am awful about work, work, work. I keep telling myself “I’ll do that after 8 Women Dream . . .”

    Thanks for the thoughtful reminders.

    I am excited to hear about the job. . . and the puppy.

    Who wouldn’t want you on a team? You’ll bring new life and laughter to the place!


  • Toni Schram

    Your spot on check up list really pertains to many people and not just undutiful daughters.

    Mothers perennially putting themselves last when it comes to getting their health checked out. They’re always looking out for their kids and husbands/boyfriends, when they should be the first ones to be checked out.

    If the one who takes care of everyone gets sick, the ship will start to sink.

    Great advice Rayne!



    • Rayne

      I know Toni – this reminder is applicable for everyone. But I really think that undutiful daughters struggle with taking good care of themselves. I’ve heard this via so many questionnaires and convos with friends. I’m the worst at it, so I thought it deserved a Sunday. Be well!

  • Remy, Photographer & CEO of Cornerstone Creative

    I”ve been self employed for 3 years. I have been to the dentist and the doctor (well, kinda had to after the car accident) but not the eye doctor and definitely not in for a massage. I’ll find a local massage health/well being center, they usually have specials too. My exercise regimen that was keeping me at least ‘static’ went out the window when I broke my foot, so now it’s back to the starting line. I know a few great hairdressers in Sonoma County, lemme know if you need them but judging by your cute photo, I’m guessing you got that covered. A new puppy! yay! Names? Great post and great reminders – xox Rem

    • Rayne

      Theres the rub! If I am so lucky to land this job it would be bad timing for a new puppy!