By Nora Heston Tarte

Back to school is the perfect time to steal a few moments for you. The kids are out of the house and whether you work or stay at home that hopefully means you’ll have a few minutes to yourself each week—a welcome change from the busy, kids-home-all-day summer. Whether it’s getting your nails done after braving the carpool line or having a quiet lunch out with friends, find some me time. Trust us, it’s better for everybody.

You can’t pour from an empty cup

You’ve likely heard an expression like this one before; it’s the same lesson airline stewardesses are teaching you every time they recite those infamous safety directions, “put your mask on before assisting another person with theirs.” As a parent, your first instinct is to help your child. But the fact of the matter is if you pass out, you won’t be able to help anybody.

The same holds true for everyday life; if you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of anybody else. Parents—and moms especially—have a habit of taking care of others while neglecting themselves. It’s as easy as making five different breakfasts for three different kids, feeding the dog and then forgetting to nourish yourself. The buck stops here. Whether you have to call on a neighbor to alternate drop-offs, or head to the office late on Monday, find time to care for yourself each week so you don’t lose your sanity.

A nourished mom is a happy mom

Parents who take care of themselves (and often) are better parents. A few minutes of mommy me time each day, or even an hour away each week, will reduce the likelihood of exploding over accidental messes or yelling when you don’t want to be. If you are constantly running in circles, doing never-ending loads of laundry and cooking dinners like a short order cook, you’ll be too wound up to enjoy the days. A short temper and lack of patience is sure to ensue.

Take time to yourself—whether it’s a date night with your spouse or a glass of wine and a hot bath once a week—to be a better parent. You’ll be calmer after having a break and more equipped to handle the chaos that is everyday life with kids. Not to mention, moms that take time to exercise and eat well are healthier, better able to keep up with their kids and enjoy quality family time together. Even when you’re not with your children, you are their role model. Your children are watching you, and they want to be like you!

Find a hobby

One of the best ways to enjoy time alone is to have a hobby. It should be something just for you—not an activity you do with the kids or your spouse. If it’s a group activity, find other people to enjoy it with outside of your household.

Choose something you enjoyed before kids, or even before marriage, that you’ve run out of time to do. It could be yoga classes at a local dojo, sewing, golfing, running, calligraphy or something else entirely. Bonus points if it’s active and/or creative.

Spend time with friends

Time alone is what so many moms dream of. We crave those moments of silence once the kids are in bed and we have a few moments to ourselves to catch up on thoughts from the day. But spending time with others outside of your household is also important. While family time is important, so are friendships. If you don’t have a core group of girlfriends to call when you need a night out, look to mother’s groups in your area, your child’s friend’s mom you’ve been meaning to get to know better or a neighbor you’re friendly with. It’s good to have someone to drink a glass of wine with on a Wednesday night or catch a chick flick with on Fridays.

10 Ways to Find Time For You

  • De-stress with yoga and/or meditation.
  • Exercise at the gym, at home or outdoors.
  • Treat yourself to a ‘Mommy Makeover:’ A new ‘do, a nail appointment or a brow reshape.
  • Wake up 30 minutes before your kids to sip a cup of coffee and read or catch up with news.
  • Take a class: cooking, pottery, scrapbooking, etc.
  • Join a group such as a local book club.
  • After you tuck the kids into bed, open Netflix and treat yourself to a guilty pleasure you couldn’t watch when the kids are awake.
  • Schedule a monthly GNO (Girls Night Out).
  • Hire a babysitter once a month for date night.

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