Need a break? Sanity-saving “time out” tricks you can steal.

Once you become a parent, doing everything for others (and all at once) becomes woven into our DNA. But it’s important that we keep an eye on our own mental health before the train really runs off the tracks. Sneaking time sounds difficult, but here are a few clever ways to fit in a refresher whether you have 10 minutes or a few hours. Serenity now.

#1 Take a Car-cation

This sanity-saving trick is one of my personal favorites and I’m never unprepared for a little Car R&R. Early for school pick-up? Little ones sacked out in the backseat? Waiting for soccer to end at the practice field? Hello, Mini-Mom Break! Stashed in my center console is an assortment of magazines, crossword puzzles and canned Starbucks Mochas. With this cocktail of relaxation, I’m thrilled to steal even five minutes. As a side bonus, I’m never late to anything anymore.

#2 Trade Time with another Mom

Many summers ago, my sister and I started watching each other’s kids once every other week to grab some “me time.”As much as we needed to do some household cleaning, errands or chores—that was not allowed! Instead, our precious time alone was spent going to the beach with an iced coffee and a good book, shopping (for ourselves) or having lunch with a friend. I can’t express to you how much we looked forward to those days. Absolute bliss.

#3 Make a Standing Date with Girlfriends

Whether it’s for drinks, brunch or a mani/pedi, knowing that you’ll be getting together say, the last Friday of every month, gives you concrete plans for girl time. Hard to leave the house? Alternate houses for wine tasting, chick flicks or a potluck dinner. We all need time with friends to relax, vent and talk about adult stuff. It’s scientifically proven to be imperative to our health. I’m sure a scientist said that.

#4 Find Your “Thing”

My thing is a hot cup of tea and a caramel sea salt Lindt chocolate ball. I have it every night after the kids go to bed. I actually look forward to it all day long. What’s your thing? The crossword puzzle in the newspaper? Browsing the new e-commerce enabled TJMaxx website? Eating an ice cream sandwich for breakfast? Whatever it is, find time for it every day and do it.

#5 Watch Your Kids Sleep

I once attended a Families First parenting workshop and we were going around the room talking about how we manage to re-like our children again after they’ve been rotten to us all day (I’m paraphrasing) and one mom said, “I go into my kids’ rooms each night long after they’ve gone to bed and watch them sleep. They’re so peaceful and beautiful and everything is forgotten and then it’s only love. So much love.” That about says it all.

What do you do to steal a little time away? Share your ideas with other parents!

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