14 Things Not to Feel Guilty About
Taking a Long Lunch
Whether you're in your kitchen or your office, making the time to eat a good lunch will help prevent that afternoon dip in alertness, says Cynthia Sass, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "Many moms don't make lunch a priority because it's often the busiest time of the day, but whether you're taking care of a child, working, running errands, or cleaning, your body needs fuel to do that work." Skip filling up, and you'll start to feel run-down, irritable, or moody. Sarah Kearney and her daughter take time out of their busy day to sit and eat lunch together -- but Mom reads The New York Times while Phoebe "reads" her Sesame Street magazine. Having a break in the day like this helps them both have better afternoons.
Another reason to eat lunch: If you don't, your body will try to perform with less fuel, and you'll end up burning fewer calories. "Then later, when most people are less active -- resting, watching TV, reading -- they give their bodies more fuel than they need. That's what leads to weight gain," says Sass. So, try to schedule at least 20 minutes for a balanced lunch. In the end, you'll save time because you'll have more energy.
Getting a Life
Seeing friends is more than just fun -- it may keep your mind sharp, according to a University of Michigan study. "I used to feel extreme guilt about meeting up with friends after being at work all day," says Renée Amellio, a mother of two in Allenhurst, New Jersey. "But I realized that the only way to keep my sanity given my hectic schedule was to think of myself a little bit and have some fun -- and that my kids wouldn't love me any less for it."
Eating Fast Food
Hitting a fast-food joint needn't spell a diet disaster. All you have to do is choose that drive-through meal carefully. For instance, a Taco Bell bean burrito, a good source of calcium and fiber, has 370 calories and 10 grams of fat and will surely fill you up. A Wendy's Jr. hamburger? It has 270 calories and 9 grams of fat and is a source of protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. For pizza fans, two slices of Pizza Hut Hand Tossed Veggie Lover's 14-inch pizza has 400 calories and 12 grams of fat and contains calcium and antioxidants.
You have a million things to do and yet you're e-mailing a friend? Don't stress over the "wasted" time. If something has happened to upset you (and when was a day with a baby or toddler ever a picnic from start to finish?), sending an e-mail can be a health booster. The reason: Writing forces you to organize your thoughts and helps you understand what's really going on and how it makes you feel. So vent, explain, hit "send," and then get back to your to-do list. Amber Warfield of Union Bridge, Maryland, can relate to that. She has two different groups of online friends she e-mails regularly. "I can talk to them about things I wouldn't say to my friends locally. I don't feel judged or worry that it'll get around the grapevine, and it really helps," she says.
Using Sex to Tune Out Troubles
Feeling lousy about the cost of the bathroom repair? Annoyed at your husband for coming home late? Instead of sticking to your side of the bed, it's okay if the two of you use sex to soothe yourselves. Experts say it's normal to deal with emotional discomfort through physical contact. "Some people, men especially, find that sex takes the edge off stressful events," says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., author of What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex. "Sex has been shown to decrease stress, so if you can relax enough to get into it, it just might help."
Getting Plenty of Shut-Eye
Lots of slumber can sharpen your mind, lift your spirits, and keep your weight in check. Experts say eight hours is ideal -- but most of us get less than seven. It can seem impossible to find any time to snooze, what with the baby crying, the toddler sick, and the dirty dishes calling. But save the chores for later and take a nap when your child does. Leave the baby with her doting dad and go to bed early one night this week. It's more than fine -- you'll all benefit.
Being a Single-Tasker
If we're not doing a million things at once -- and doing them brilliantly-many of us feel inadequate as a mother, wife, employee, or friend. But research shows that multitasking is actually counterproductive, since every time you switch from one task to another, you lose time. Focus on one thing and you'll actually get more done. Which is better all around, since you'll wind up with more time to do the things you like -- with the people you love.