“Mommy, you look like a princess!”
Stacey Gregory is getting ready for a night out on the town — putting on make-up, fixing her hair — and she’s got a rapt audience: her 3-year-old daughter, Daelyn. Like many little girls, Daelyn loves all things girly. “She is fascinated by the different colors of eye shadow, or the sparkly lashes, the bright lipstick, and my outrageous nail colors and designs,” says Gregory. “She wants to be a part of it, too, and I am happy to oblige.”
The Tacoma mom obliges by taking Daelyn out for a little “beauty bonding” at a local kids’ salon, Wild Child, where the pair gets manicures together. “Bonding with my daughter over makeovers or manicures is special to me, because it's something she and I can do together that is unique to just us girls,” says Gregory.
Expecting twins made beauty bonding all the more important for Shoreline mom Annie Koh and her daughter Emma. “I thought it important to create a ritual that we could continue after the babies were born,” says Koh. “We also like to do things like go swimming, play at the playgrounds, read books, play games — but these are all things that she can do with my husband, too. Pedicures are just for us!”
Increasingly, local salons are catering to mommy-and-me beauty outings by offering special “little girl” services, and moms are feeling the fun factor (and, let’s face it, multitasking excellence) of combining quality time and cuticle time. But while going pro is a lot of fun, those spa services can really add up. Take your tween to Lily’s Pampering Salon in Seattle and you can get everything from mini-manicures to teen facials, “glam make-up” and pamper parties. A mini-manicure there (“with nail art!”) costs $17; at Julep, a “junior Julep” pedicure will set you back $28. Those toes are glorious, yes, but start the spa habit too young and you could create an expensive expectation, says Laura Kastner, Ph.D., a noted family therapist and the author of Getting to Calm: Cool-headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens.
“Watch out what you start, and how early and how much, because it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle,” Kastner says. “Mani-pedis are great, but you get them used to it, and then they start to expect it.” By the time your little girl reaches ninth grade, you could find you’ve created a pretty expensive maintenance habit, something Kastner sees in her practice. A good rule of thumb is to consider how much you are spending — in both time and money — on beauty bonding and be mindful of what that says about your family’s values, Kastner says. Enjoy the beauty, yes — but keep the emphasis on the bonding.
“To keep the focus on bonding, it is really important you take the time to talk to your daughter,” says Erika Katz, author of Bonding over Beauty: A Mother-Daughter Beauty Guide to Foster Self-esteem, Confidence, and Trust. “Teach her to cleanse her skin and do it with her, all the while discussing why it is important to keep skin clean and healthy. Teach her to care for her hair, her teeth, and moisturize her body.
“These are life lessons, not just beauty rituals. To look healthy, you actually have to be healthy. This is why diet, exercise and proper hygiene are so important.”
To skirt the spa-cost issue, some mothers create little beauty rituals with their daughters at home. The private, comfy surroundings may lend themselves to deeper conversations, and possibly, deeper bonding. A homemade mask or scrub (Katz has recipes on her website) is fun to make for mere pennies; a couple of new bottles of sparkly nail polish can provide an evening’s worth of pampering for less than $10. Allow a yummy, fragrant face mask (less than $20 at the drug store) to sink into your skin while you and your daughter dance to her iPod or watch her favorite TV show together and talk about why she likes it. You can comb the Internet or pick up Katz’s book for lots of cheap and easy ideas for creating a home-spa experience.
Whether spent at home or at the spa, regular monthly “girl time” can be a wonderful way to open doors to conversation and connection. “We talk about everything and really bond during this girly time!” says Bellevue mother Susan Hanneman, whose daughter Avery is 8 years old. “She loves the warm water and flowers on her toes, and I treasure the time just being with her.”
Kristen Russell has Seattle-winter toes and needs her 14-year-old daughter to give her a pedicure. Kayleigh?