"How I Chill Out"
You've packed the kids' lunches, found the missing shoe to your daughter's favorite doll, put on your earrings, and broken up a squabble over the last Pop-Tart -- and it's not even 7 a.m. How can you possibly think about squeezing in a little "me" time at some point? Here's inspiration:
"While my kids are at a lesson, I sit in the car, recline the driver's seat, and thumb through catalogs of gorgeous things. Twenty minutes spent looking at eye candy really refreshes me."
-Louise Tutelian, Larchmont, NY
"Being a single mom, I hardly ever get time to myself. But for the past four years, I've set aside every Tuesday night to go over to a friend's house and watch TV for a few hours -- lately, our favorite show is Gilmore Girls. Since my mom lives with us, she watches my daughter and they have their own special bonding time."
-Genevieve Boss, Ann Arbor, MI
"My husband, Mark, entertains the kids while I tackle a home-improvement project, such as painting or landscaping. I get so much satisfaction out of my finished product!"
-Char Johannigman, Findlay, OH
"After getting my boys, ages one and five, settled for the night, I like to take my dog for a stroll while my husband watches them. Inhaling the evening air makes me feel cleansed, and my shoulders begin to relax from mommy patrol."
-Lisa Thompson, Glen Allen, VA
"Sometimes I'll suggest a conversation topic to my four children, such as what kind of animal they would be; participate for a couple of minutes; then say, "I'll be right back." I dash up to my bathroom, lock the door, and spend a luxurious ten minutes plucking my eyebrows, putting a little moisturizer on my arms and legs, and maybe whipping off a few tummy crunches on the bath mat. Then I spring up, feeling rejuvenated."
-Meghan Cox Gurdon, Washington, DC
"I act in a local theater group once or twice a year so I can take a step away from my busy life. My kids get a happy and relaxed mommy instead of a 'stressed-out-gotta-do-let's-go' one."
-Nicole Stacey, Troy, MI
"When my son used to play with his trucks in the sandbox, I amused myself by getting right in there with him to make miniature sand castles."
-Miriam Hsia, Photo Editor
"My weekends are often spent shuttling my three kids -- ages eleven, nine, and six -- to their soccer or football games. They get upset if I don't watch, so my new trick is an MP3 player. I download books -- right now I'm listening to Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton -- and sit and watch the game, but now I can listen to a good book at the same time."
-Ann Higgins, Tinton Falls, NJ
"Once a week, my mom friends and I head to a movie theater for 'girls' night out,' complete with popcorn and chocolate. It's so nice to get a break -- and not to have to sit through yet another animated flick!"
-Lori Ruether, Dutzow, MO
"My front porch is my escape. I sit on my rocking chair, look down at my flower-filled yard and the pond below, and enjoy the cool evening breeze with a tall glass of iced tea."
-Heather Petrovich, Fairmont, WV
"Having a phone chat with an old college friend always puts a smile on my face and lets me unwind. Doing needlepoint soothes my nerves too -- small projects that don't take ages to finish, like hand towels, are my favorite."
-Kathy Curtis, Warwick, RI
"It helps my sanity level to curl up with a good romance novel. I sneak in some reading time when the kids are napping or while my husband's keeping an eye on them."
-Taylor Campbell, Bakersfield, CA