PARENTS
04/11/2013 05:50 pm ET | Updated Apr 12, 2013

Finding 'Me Time' As Parents: How To Put Yourself Back On The Priority List

This post is part of our Stress-Less Parenting Club workshop. Check out previous posts here, and if you haven’t signed up yet, go to the purple box on the right side of this page to receive our weekly newsletter.

Being a parent often means that our own needs come last, and sometimes that means we completely kick them to the curb. It's a sad scene when you end the day unshowered, unexercised and unfed, but most of us have been there. For some of us, that's just about every day.

In their book, Minimalist Parenting, Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest assert that taking care of ourselves "is not indulgent or selfish -- it is a crucial part of living a full life." As Christine writes in her new blog post, "When you treat yourself well, goodness trickles down into your relationships with your partner, your kids, your friends, and your community. It’s like a big circle of awesomeness."

For the fourth and final week of her and Asha's Stress-Less Parenting workshop, we're focusing on putting ourselves back on the priority list. Christine outlines in her blog how to move beyond the typical roadblocks that prevent us from building self-care into our schedules. And here, she and Asha offer five strategies to make it happen. Then, at the bottom of the page, you'll find this week's challenge to carve out a little "me time" -- now.

5 SELF-CARE STEPS

Start Small
It’s tempting to set big self-care goals, but you’re more likely to succeed if you start small. Christine once read in a running magazine that 10 minutes of running is better than no running. That concept resonated because really, don’t we all deserve at least 10 minutes a day to focus on ourselves? Without a doubt. Set your sights on carving out 10 minutes a day for yourself and build from there.

Schedule Self-Care in Your Calendar
This tip is particularly suited to those who live by their to-do lists and calendars. Put self-care on your recurring daily to-do list. You’ll feel really happy every day when you check it off.

Focus on the Present
In the beginning, self-care can be difficult to enjoy because it’s hard to ignore the work and household matters looming in the background. Try to notice how much calmer you feel when you focus on one thing at a time. When you’re present in the moment, you can bring all of your energy and creativity to whatever you’re doing at the time, including doing something good for yourself. So when you’ve got your 10 minutes (or more!) set aside, shut off everything else and just focus on yourself.

Ask for Help
When you let go of the need to manage every detail, you open up the opportunity to ask for help. Do it! Asking for help is not a weakness. It does not mean that you are incapable of doing something -- it simply means you are opting not to do something at that moment. Embrace that other people may get to the finish line in a totally different way than you would, and go with it.

Say No
As we discussed in Week 1, it's okay (more than okay!) to say no to things you don’t want to do. We’re reminding you again, because it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling selfish when you prioritize, say, your workout time over, say, a request to volunteer for a school field trip. You have the authority to make case-by-case decisions about how you use your time -- don’t simply default to neglecting yourself. You get to define “self-care.” As you customize your approach to your new minimalist life, keep in mind that you are driving the bus. Make joy a goal. You deserve happiness. Every day.

THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE

Put self-care on your to-do list today and take at least 20 minutes just for you. Tell us in the comments how you spent it or to tweet to us @HuffPostParents.

Q&A
How do you manage to carve out time for yourself, and what's your favorite way to spend that time? As we focus on taking care of ourselves this week, we'd love to hear your thoughts and tricks in the comments.

Excerpted with permission from Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest (Bibliomotion, March 2013).

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