Alone Again, Naturally

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Make Time for You

So how do you create that much-needed, often-elusive alone time? Our experts offer some suggestions.

  1. Negotiate with loved ones. Convincing your husband that you deserve a spa day -- or even just a sit-on-the-couch day -- might seem daunting at first. Laura Stack, author of Leave the Office Earlier (Broadway, 2004), says that offering your spouse their own day to do as they please can keep everyone feeling happy and refreshed. "I trade with my husband. He likes movies so he goes by himself. I think that's kind of goofy, but whatever. On my day, I might get a massage. So I give you your time, you give me my time," says Stack.
  2. Set boundaries. When author Ryan's kids were young, she used to give them a kitchen timer, and tell them they couldn't talk to her until it went off. This gave her some well-needed alone time -- even if it was only 15 minutes -- and taught her kids the value having their own time. "I'd say you can come back when the bell rings. And see what you can do with the time," says Ryan.
  3. Show them the positive results. Every night, author Stack takes a bath -- with bubbles, candles, music, the whole shebang. Initially, she met some resistance when she made it clear that she was not to be disturbed during that time, but gradually her family has come to see that a happy mom makes everyone feel better. "Everyone understands that when I get my bath time life is good, and when I don't I'm kind of a grouch," says Stack.
  4. Believe that you deserve it. Many people think that singles have lots of moments to themselves, but Ryan says that they can get caught in their own time traps. "I hear from many single people who say they work 80 hours in the office because they don't have the excuse of kids. People who are married can always say, 'I have to be at a soccer game or ballet practice,'" says Ryan.

The problem, says Ryan, is that we think we need an excuse. "Often we don't think we have the right to time for ourselves. People don't understand that it's as critically important to stop as it is to go," says Ryan.

So whether you're a single woman who wants to catch a 6 p.m. yoga class or a mother who longs to see a matinee, understand that treating yourself well will enable you to be more generous with your family and more productive at your job. Do it for your husband, your kids, your friends, your employer. But most of all, do it for you.


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