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Rule 5: Take a Time Out

Aug 8, 2008
Andrea Vos (37) lives in Amsterdam with husband Jan Willem, son King (3) and daughter Lux (1). She is an independent interaction designer and works for several renowned agencies and clients.

As a working Mom, there is usually very little time to spend on yourself. There is always one more thing: that one last email, one more load of laundry, a few more things to pick up. Sometimes, by trying to do everything, you just wear yourself down. And the funny thing is you end up not doing anything especially well; you're not a better mom or partner or boss or colleague or employee.

Try to see yourself as a totally hot sports car. You can just use any old gasoline and oil to keep the engine running on a basic level, but anyone would agree that's a waste of a perfectly good sports car. You need to take special care of the car with regular tune-ups, top-of-the-line parts and tons of TLC to radically improve its performance and lifespan.

It may sound contradictory, but being selfish can make you a better person and help you cope with all your challenging roles. It took me quite a while to find the right balance, and I still sometimes slip into the comfortable routine of trying to do everything. I've learned that I really need to take some time off from my busy schedule and just spend it on... ME!

If it's hard for you to invest time in yourself and your sanity, try taking it slow and working your way up. Start with a quiet cup of coffee and a nice magazine, or a quick shopping trip during lunch. Anything that takes you out of the routine for an hour or so each week is good by me. You can work your way up to lunch or dinner and a movie with your friends. You can go shopping for a few hours as long as you only buy stuff for yourself! And of course, you could include your partner in this special "you" time if that's what you want. We regularly have a sitter over and have dinner together, just the two of us. A nice dinner and some wine - it's a real live date!

As I now consider myself quite advanced (ahem), I sometimes block time in my calendar without even knowing what I'm going to do. What a wonderful treat. It brings back some of the spontaneity you kind of lose when you have kids and a demanding job. Usually I spend time with friends I haven't seen for a while. There's the added bonus that your friends with less hectic schedules no longer see you as ruled by the calendar, your job, or your offspring.

Find a way to fit it in. Find something that works for you, your life and your priorities. My "me-time" has a social character. I want to see friends and really have the time to talk and enjoy their company. A lot of retail therapy also takes place in this time; just walking around town, browsing through the shops and enjoying a long lunch with a stack of magazines.

You will get a fantastic return on your investment in yourself. You'll find you have more energy, less stress and much more patience towards your children, partner, and colleagues.

As excerpted from "42 Rules (tm) for Working Moms" Super Star Press, 2008.
About the Author
Laura Lowell is the executive editor and author of "42 Rules for Working Moms." She has gathered practical advice and information from working moms all over the world to share with others. She lives and works in Silicon Valley with her husband and two girls. http://www.42rules.com/working_moms/index
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