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10 Tips to Find "Me Time"

Don't forget to take care of yourself! Here's why "me time" is important, and 10 ways to find room in your busy schedule for you.

Face it -- taking care of kids can be exhausting. From morning until night, feeding, diapering, dressing and entertaining them can leave even the most energetic of mothers feeling drained. The fix? "Me time." From a few minutes to a whole wonderful hour, me time for moms is essential to good health.

"Spending time alone gives us the chance to reconnect with ourselves as individuals," points out Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a psychologist and the author of "What About Me? 12 Ways To Get Your Parents' Attention Without Hitting Your Sister." Introverts especially need time to recharge -- the silence gives room to breathe.

"Me time is counterintuitive to many moms, but you cannot take care of your children effectively if you don't take care of yourself first," reminds Dr. Lori Woodring, an author, psychologist and mom of four. You'll be a better mother if you're able to get away and take an occasional break.

Here are 10 tips to help you find some time for yourself:

  1. Start Small
    It can be hard to suddenly stop everything you're doing and go for a run, so establish me time with baby steps. Carving out time and arranging for child care can be a process, so shorter activities that you can squeeze in when the kids are playing or taking a nap are best. Read, write a blog entry or set the timer and lose yourself in some favorite Pinterest pages for 20 minutes.
  2. Nap When You Can
    Sleeping when the baby does is the oldest advice out there, but it's one of the easiest ways to get some much-needed rest. Even if you don't actually drift off, recline on the couch with a couple of good magazines while you can.
  3. Hire Help
    A sitter for even a single hour can be a lifesaver. If you can afford it, schedule the sitter to come while you take a run, sit in the tub, go to the movies, get a manicure or take a yoga class. Find a sitter in your area here.
  4. Alert Dad
    ... or your partner, best friend, sister or mother-in-law! Let them know you need some downtime and would love their help. They'll probably be more than happy to come by while you get out of the house to take a walk or go for a bike ride, especially if they know you are someone who needs it and doesn't often do it.
  5. Tuck in Early
    Don't be a hero and stay up late folding the laundry or straightening the house. Hit the hay when your kids do and give yourself some extra Zzzs.
  6. Set a Schedule
    Book time on your phone's calendar the same way you would a doctor's appointment. This way, the time is ready and waiting for you to take advantage of it.
  7. Be Firm in Saying No
    Just say no to extra activities that can eat away at your personal time. School committees, neighborhood groups and volunteering are all great causes, but try to keep your own sanity in mind. There's no need to overdo it.
  8. Make a Date
    Call a friend and arrange to meet up. Getting a fellow mom on board for a workout, some window shopping or a ladies' lunch will give you some added incentive. (You'll feel bad about canceling!)
  9. Have a Treat
    Eating an ice cream cone on the steps of your child's preschool while you wait for dismissal is a perfectly fine way to spend your me time. You could also get a fancy coffee drink or pick up that chocolate you spot from the check-out line.
  10. Shed the Guilt
    If you feel conflicted about taking some time for yourself, you'll defeat the purpose! Don't worry about the errands you think you should be doing or about your children missing you. Clouding your me time with worry won't help anyone.

Even on your busiest days, finding just 15 minutes of downtime is a necessity. Be the best mom you can be by taking the time to relax and refuel.

Jennifer Kelly Geddes is a New York-based writer and editor who specializes in parenting, health and child development. She's a frequent contributor to Care.com and the mom of two teen girls.

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