Make Dates with Friends
Meeting up with other busy women and moms can be twice as tricky as finding plain old "me time." Mark your calendar with some "friend dates" each month. If your spouse or someone else can watch the kids in the evening, that's great. If not, try to make lunch or coffee dates during the day with friends who live or work near you.
Read (or Listen to) Books
Who has time to read? You do — even if it's just for a few minutes each day. Trade in one of the so-so TV shows you watch each week to dive into a good book. If you have an e-reader and a smart phone, download the e-reader's app, such as the Nook or Kindle app, so that you can read books on your phone during spare moments. If you really don't have time to pick up a book, buy or download some audio-books to listen to while in the car or in bed.
Start a (Low-Key) Hobby
There's underlying pressure for women to do it all: cook, clean, raise kids — and be super-crafty to boot. Well, you don't have to be Martha Stewart, but there is something to be said about taking up a hobby that helps break up your daily grind. Make it a low-key one, such as photography, scrapbooking, container gardening, or (easy) yoga.
Go for a Walk
Going for a walk is one of the most cliché ideas for "me time." But it truly is a simple, accessible way to get your blood flowing and clear your head. When you lace up your walking shoes and step outside, leave everything — including your kids, cell phone, and worries — behind.
Phone a Friend
So many of us are guilty of texting or emailing or Facebook messaging rather than actually talking with friends. Do you miss your regular phone calls with your best friend? There's a good chance she misses hearing your voice, too. Pick one evening a week, after the kids have gone to bed, to catch up over the phone, even if it's to say "I'm exhausted, and I miss you!"
Blast Your Favorite Music
Listening to music is a proven stress-buster. When is the last time you rocked out to your favorite songs from your high school or college years? Make a "me time" playlist or mix CD to play in the car or while you shower. It will bring you right back to your glory days.
Treat Yourself to Your Favorite Meal
Chances are, you usually cook for your family and you're always catering to everyone else's taste. At least one night a month, make or order your favorite dish — even if the picky members of your family have to eat last night's leftovers or a can of soup for dinner. You deserve that comforting dish of whatever it is you've been craving!
Connect with Women Online
Play Words with Friends
, peruse Pinterest
, or enjoy a solo game of solitaire
. Catch up on your favorite blogs, or connect with other moms on our message boards
. Just be sure to limit your screen time so that all your free time isn't spent straining your eyes or staying up until the wee hours on the web.
This might sound silly, but it's really a simple treat: Stop. Breathe. Repeat. Make your few moments of down time really count by doing a whole lot of nothing. Don't watch TV. Don't look at your smart phone. Don't check on your napping toddler every two seconds. And don't feel guilty! Just take a few to gaze out the window, or sit and do some gentle stretching on the floor. It's not a waste of time. A few minutes of quiet time can save you several minutes of frustration or forgetfulness when you tackle your to-do list later on.
End Your Day with Something Indulgent
Your day is full of all things "kiddie" — singing kids' songs, making kids' meals, watching kids' shows, helping with kids' math problems, resolving kids' bickering. Make the very end of your day as mom-oriented as possible. Think: a homemade (decaf!) latte and some jazz music, a glass of wine and a re-run of Friends, a hot towel on your face and 5-minute shoulder rub (from your spouse or yourself). You really do deserve it!