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How To Relax -- A Lesson For Moms

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'Tis officially the season and that means lots of things for moms out there: shopping, wrapping, donating, cookie baking, memory-making... so I am here to add another thing to your list: relaxing. You heard me right; rest is a requirement amidst the chaos. And the good news is that you have every right to put it at the top of your wish list -- and gift it to yourself. Here's how:

1. Give yourself permission. If you don't give yourself a break (pun intended), why would anybody else? If you can legitimately find 10, 20, 60 minutes to sit and indulge in nothing useful, you need to give yourself a stamp of approval and do it. On most Saturday afternoons while our baby naps, we take "family quiet time." My daughter (now 5 1/2) won't nap, but finds a way to occupy herself while my husband and I nap, read, write, whatever. We tell ourselves -- and her -- that we are taking some time to relax and she has learned to respect that and find her own way to wind down. If we didn't claim it, do you think she would offer it up? Ya... no.

2. Let things wait. Yes, there may be dirty dishes in the sink. There may be laundry to fold. There may be a holiday dinner menu to plan. But guess what -- it will all still be there in 30 minutes. I am not racing against time to win an award in domesticity, but I am racing the clock when it comes to personal stress, health and well-being. So if I choose to flip through a magazine now and let the dust sit just a little while longer, I am ok with that.

3. Don't worry about the kids. They won't die. I mean, obviously once the food, water and sleep stuff is taken care of. But seriously, they don't need you on top of them 24/7. I promise. Even my son, who is not quite 2, can hang on his own for a surprisingly long period of time, as long as I let him... he knows where to find me if he needs me, he's usually just sitting a few feet away, but if I take a pause from constantly entertaining and stimulating his brain and instead focus on relaxing mine instead, he can do it on his own.

4. Partner up. This is a very important step. You and your husband/partner/significant other must be willing to work together on this. It will be rare that you both get time to chill together (our Saturday afternoon ritual is a happy exception) so you need to be willing to take turns. We give each other alternate days to "sleep" in (if that's what you call it when two kids are stomping around outside your bedroom door). If I take a morning to go to workout or shop, he takes the next morning to surf, and so on.

5. Have a drink. It can be chardonnay, it can be café au lait... just indulge in something that indulges your senses. That forces you to pause and enjoy and relish the moment. To focus on the "task" at hand, to give yourself a much-deserved treat and to feed your soul for a moment while you're not busy feeding a hungry mouth. And then... have another.