Taking some "me" time

May 17, 2017
Michelle is helping parents understand the importance of self-care
Michelle Palmer giving a woman a foot massage

Families staying at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto can now treat themselves to a spa visit without ever leaving the House.

Michelle Palmer, owner of Toronto’s Pause Beauty Boutique, has been holding Monday Manicure days at the House since October 2014. Sensing that there was a desire for more self-care services, Michelle recently increased her visits from once a month to once a week and expanded her complimentary offerings to include threading, scalp massage and foot treatments. The response has been overwhelming.

“I’m busier than ever,” she says, with a full sign-up sheet to prove it.

While foot baths and manicures may not seem like essentials, Michelle knows better. Having spent the first two years of her daughter’s life in and out of the hospital, she knows the true impact of self-care.

“A doctor from SickKids recently gave a talk at the House identifying parents’ lack of self-care as a real issue, and that resonated with me,” says Michelle. “Until you’ve been through it, you can’t know how valuable it is to do something as simple as getting your eyebrows done. That one little thing can make you feel so much better about continuing on in your day.”

Michelle’s empathy makes her uniquely suited for her role, allowing her to connect with the many parents and grandparents she sits across from.

“Our conversations can be very raw and real because I’ve been there,” she says. “It takes one to know one.”

Michelle filing a mom's fingernails

Michelle is thrilled that she’s starting to see “regulars” settling into a routine of taking a break for themselves each Monday. And RMHC Toronto staff are grateful for Michelle’s passion, knowing the impact it has on families.

“We did a needs assessment at the House, and one comment we read a lot from dads was, ‘I wish my wife could get more pampering,’” says Ami Armagost, Program Coordinator at RMHC Toronto. “Now that we’ve started the enhanced spa services, more dads are signing up for appointments themselves. Dads need their hands and feet done too.”

Energized by the gratitude she’s hearing from families, Michelle hopes to continue expanding her offerings. To finance her work at the House – “My goal is to never cost parents anything” – Michelle will soon be launching a makeup line called Happy Girl Cosmetics. All proceeds will support her supplies and time at RMHC Toronto. When designing the products, parents at RMHC Toronto were top of mind.

“Cosmetic names are always very fun and flirty, but what hospital mom can relate to that?” she says. “With Happy Girl, I based all of the colour names on the health care experience. So there’s ‘Super Mom,’ ‘In This Together’ and ‘Date Night in the Atrium.’ Now moms can wear their story in their makeup.”