Create free periods
You might find an hour or two while your kid's in a karate class, at a dropoff playdate (return the favor to the mom-on-duty next time), or even during a kid movie you don't want to sit through, if your child's with an old-enough friend -- just set them in their seats with snacks, and sit right outside the theater doors...to read or knit or play Minesweeper.
"If I have to do something, like go to the dentist, I will try to add on one frivolous thing, like getting my nails done." -- Gina Osher
"I get up, get dressed for work, and don't tell anyone that I'm not going to the office. I work out, see a movie, and I'm home by dinnertime. And I don't feel guilty at all." -- Nancy Smith, Parenting staffer
"I take the dog for 'a long walk,' but I actually walk over to my sister's, where I sit and have coffee and chat." -- Lisa Bain, Parenting staffer
Signs you NEED a day away
1. The nail-polish remover is just where you left it: on the refrigerator door with the salad dressing.
2. You look forward to your annual Pap smear because at least you'll be able to lie down in a quiet place with no children nearby.
3. You hear your big kid warning your little kid, "Dude, steer clear. She's got that crazy-lady look."
4. Sometimes when you pull into your driveway, you don't really want to get out of the car.
5. Your unsympathetic, ass-in-chair-style boss gently suggested that you take one.
How to stop "checking in"
1. Get your nails done -- it's hard to use a cell phone with freshly painted nails.
2. "Forget" your phone in the car glove compartment.
3. Consider the fact that your husband might resent it when you check in and be insulted that you don't have confidence in him.
4. Realize that he might have questions ("Where are the razor blades? We're doing an art project") that could stress you out.
5. Give your cell to a friend to hold, and confiscate hers.
Stephanie Dolgoff is Parenting's editor-at-large.