Question from Shon in Chicago, Ill.: "I am a busy wife and mom of 5. I am constantly on the go with kids, work, activities, socials...you get my drift. I love my busy and energetic life! So it is very difficult to take "me time" without feeling guilty or getting "How could you?" looks from those in my house. What is the best way (with ideas please) to take short "me time" moments during the week so that I get enough de-stressing so I don't have to run away to Barbados (or the bathroom or my mama's house) for a week just to de-compress?"
Alan's Advice: "Calgon, take me away!" We all have moments when we just need a break, and "me time" is so important to re-energize, re-focus, and gear up for your busy life. Save the guilt for a cinnabon. "Me time" can be taken anytime, anywhere - the only person who needs to know that you are taking it is you! Does anyone else around you broadcast that they need "me time"? They probably just do it. And remember, the "me time" that you need - with friends, alone, in peace and quiet, reading a book, working out, a beauty appointment, a five-minute breathing and relaxation exercise - can only be defined by you, as everyone decompresses differently.
First, plan it. Make a regular "appointment" that is written in stone. Creating a routine can help you, and importantly, others. Respect this time and everyone can plan around it if it is booked.
Second, plan them. The best way to carve out time for yourself is to plan activities for your kids at this time. The strategy is to leave everyone else in your house feeling like they are the lucky ones during your "appointment." When they're having fun, who thinks about where Mom is? While you are out with a few girlfriends or on your own, your family could be eating a meal "backwards" - starting with dessert, wearing clothes backwards... or getting to do something creative (read: distracting) like taping paper to bottom of tables and pretending they are painting the Sistine Chapel. Get the picture?
If your husband needs help holding down the fort (five kids is a handful), do call in the reinforcements – favorite uncles and aunts, grandparents, friends, or whomever else captures the imagination of your children. Whatever the plan (and you may need to divide up activities that appeal to their different ages), do keep it low/no cost to further reduce stress.
And lastly, keep the benefits of "me time" alive by regularly jotting down ideas for how you will use this scheduled time. Don't forget, you have earned it!