Wisdom from the Moms of Viome: Self-Care for the Caregivers

moms day pic

If you haven't heard actress America Ferrara's speech near the end of the now beloved and Oscar-winning Barbie movie, go Google for a second. I'll still be here. 

"It is literally impossible to be a woman," her character begins. She then lists the many instances where being a woman dictates she presents a certain identity–yet simultaneously be something else that contradicts that identity. Because she's a woman.

"You have to be thin, but not too thin." America's character, Gloria, continues. "And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to be a boss, but you can't be mean. You have to lead, but you can't squash other people's ideas. You're supposed to love being a mother, but don't talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman but also always be looking out for other people." 

The speech continues for another four paragraphs. There's a lot to cover about how tough it is to be a woman. When she finishes, you want to hug your fellow females and always be there for them.

I embrace the traditional female role of caregiver. Eternally common in communities across the globe and throughout the ages. I am the mother of a 16-year-old boy. But I yearn to be more, as so many mothers, mother figures, and caretakers out there yearn for–and accomplish.

But–how can it be that the caregivers of the world, our mothers, are not that great at taking care of themselves? 

A whopping 80% of surveyed women understood the value of self-nurturing activities, yet few could commit to caring for themselves as much as they care for others.1 One of every five women surveyed (20%) admitted that taking even one hour off to do something for themselves would make them feel selfish, guilty, or anxious and unsettled.1 Who can nourish themselves and thrive like that, much less nourish others?

Women tend to take care of everyone else, often to the detriment of their own health and well-being. They put others first, whether children, parents, siblings, fur babies, neighbors, or coworkers. Being a woman means you need an abundance of guts, energy, focus, strength, and heart, but most of all, you need balance.

Stressed-out women juggling a multitude of responsibilities tend to get less sleep and less essential nutrition, which has a heavy impact on not only their energy levels but also their microbiome and cellular health. Research has found biomarkers indicating chronic stress (including blood pressure and hormone levels) at elevated levels for women working full time and bringing up children–up to 40% more elevated than women not in a caregiving role.2 

There is no doubt that women need support, and take it to heart that self-care is not only permissible, it's a necessity. In the interest of passing on a little of what we have learned to those who could use a little wisdom, we've asked four of the mothers at Viome a few questions about their unique experiences as mothers and taking care of their family, friends, and community.

Meet the Moms

Sarah Dorsett, Viome President

sarah family

What are two myths about being a mother that you would like to disrupt?

I'm not sure I have myths to disrupt, but I'm a big believer in quality time over quantity. The second would be that by my third child, I had learned enough patience to allow them to work through problems without always jumping in. My mother gave me great advice, saying don't do for them what they can do for themselves. Promoting confidence in their own independence.

As a mom, how do you manage your nutrition and well-being along with the well-being of your family or those in your care?

Sadly, I have not found a great way to balance my own nutrition, but when I give it some attention, I actually start with vitamins and supplements because I know how hard it is for me to get the right foods in my diet every day.

What is a quote or mantra that helps you keep going when the going gets tough?

This year, my quote is: tomorrow is a new day (so whenever I face a tough challenge, I remind myself that it's most likely very temporary).

Juwariya Khan, Strategy & Product Operations Manager


What two myths about being a mother would you like to disrupt?

There are many, but two I would pick are:

"Self-Sacrifice as Virtue." Women in general have been conditioned to believe the idea that they must prioritize everyone else's needs before their own at all times, even more so after they become mothers. This belief can lead to burnout, resentment, and ultimately hinder their ability to provide the best care for their children. While it's true that motherhood requires selflessness and putting your child first, it's essential for mothers to also prioritize self-care and well-being. Encouraging mothers to practice it and set boundaries is crucial for their own health and the health of their families.

"Motherhood equals instinctual perfection." There's a pervasive myth that mothers should instinctively know how to care for their children in the most "perfect" way, and any deviation from this perceived perfection is a failure. In reality, motherhood is messy, challenging, and full of mistakes and imperfections. Experiencing struggle is a normal part of the journey and it doesn't diminish one's abilities as a mother. I hope every woman and mother realizes that it's okay to seek help, ask questions, and make decisions that may not align with societal expectations. I hope by debunking this myth, we can create a more supportive and empathetic environment for mothers, where they feel empowered to embrace their unique journey and seek help when needed without feeling guilty or like a failure.

As a mom, how do you manage your nutrition and well-being along with the well-being of your family or those in your care?

This is really tough to do especially when your children are younger. But some things I've slowly learned and try to do are:  

  • Meal planning and grocery shopping before the beginning of the week has really helped us make healthier choices and it saves time during busy weekdays.

  • Waking up early and taking out a half hour to forty minutes in the morning to squeeze in some exercise and/or meditation before the craziness of the day starts. I've realized that just fifteen to twenty minutes of walking outside in nature can really help me to relax and recharge. 

  • Delegating tasks when necessary and adopting a flexible approach to nutrition and well-being, understanding that perfection is not attainable. 

  • Having said that, I always try to have a flexible approach to nutrition and well-being. There are days when quick and convenient meals or spending the whole day in bed are necessary, and that's okay. Managing nutrition and well-being along with everything else as a mother involves finding the right balance that works for you and your family.

What is a quote or mantra that helps you keep going when the going gets tough?

"Progress, not perfection." This mantra reminds me that things will not always go as we planned, and it's okay to have setbacks. Instead of striving for perfection, we should enjoy the journey, focus on being flexible, learn from setbacks, and make progress each day, no matter how small. As Dory said, "Just keep swimming!"

Jean Randles, Customer Experience Manager

Audrey and Jean copy

What are two myths about being a mother that you would like to disrupt?

First, I’ll borrow from Beth Berry: “Perfect parenting is an illusion. No matter how hard you try, you are going to impact your children in ways you don’t necessarily want or intend to. ‘Mythological motherhood’ has made perfection or near perfection seem possible. Every human on the planet is here to face, overcome, and grow beyond their challenges. It’s not your job to be perfect, nor will striving for this goal necessarily benefit your children. It IS your job to be YOU in the most fully-expressed and supported sense possible. This version of you is what your children need from you most.”3

“Do as I say, not as I do” - when they're older! My daughter and I had some really revealing conversations driving her across the country for college. I shared things with her I hadn't before, as I never wanted to hear, "But you did it, Mom!". We have a very trusting relationship now, and she shares things with me that I know some other Moms do not hear about! (A blessing or a curse, not always sure!)

As a mom, how do you manage your nutrition and well-being along with the well-being of your family or those in your care?

With difficulty. Time, energy, and motivation are a constant challenge in balancing life.

For our daughter, it was a challenge once she started school and group activities. Candy and treats are overused in motivating kids.

What is a quote or mantra that helps you keep going when the going gets tough?

"Everything works out in the end. If it's not working out, it's not the end."

Thank you very much to our Viome moms for their wisdom, and Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers out there.


1 “80% of Women Recognize Value of Self-Nurture, Yet Few Care for Selves as They Care for Others.” (14 Nov 2000). Ipsos, Press Release, Healthcare. Online at 

2 Doward, J. (27 Jan 2019). The Observer Blog, Work-life balance. Online at

3 Berry, B. (17 Feb 2015). Online at