Finding some quality alone time is difficult any day of the week but there are certain times of year when it seems nearly impossible. The fall is a great example.  During this time, kids are heading back to school, families are adjusting to a new schedule, the push towards Thanksgiving begins and, before you know it it’s time to start planning your holiday shopping. Who has a moment to spare with all of that going on?

While it is easy to get stuck in the mindset that more can be accomplished without taking any breaks, our minds and bodies need rest. You may even feel guilty for wanting to have a little escape, but you can’t save the world if you run out of steam. Here are some tips for carving out some time for yourself.

Keep a Consistent Routine

It’s not always easy to get into a routine but if you can establish one and stick to it, it makes life so much easier. As an added benefit, it also makes planning some alone time that much easier. You can either schedule it in as a daily/weekly task – or the predictability of a schedule will let you know when sneaking away is feasible. Tip – if you have a family calendar, you can put your personal time on it so that everyone knows you’re not be available for carpooling or homework during that time.

Schedule a “Day Off”

Every day, our mind is racing a mile a minute trying to keep track of everything. Was the dry cleaning picked up? Did I pay the utility bill?  Does the dog have fleas? The list is endless. Pick one evening a week where, unless it’s an emergency, none of those get done. It’s the night when you can read, catch up with a friend or indulge your favorite chick flick.

Unplug and Go Offline

Turn off the television and all of the gadgets after a certain point in the day. Not only can they distract you from getting things done but they also can stop you from relaxing and really enjoying those few precious moments when you aren’t putting out a fire. Also, unless you work online from home, try to limit the amount of times you check your email in a day to once or twice. If you can’t do this every day, pick one day a week where it is a possibility.

Use Public Transit for Your Commute

Sounds a bit crazy (and you might have to get up a little earlier) but taking the bus and/or train to work can be great. You don’t have to worry about gassing up the car or navigating through traffic – you can just read your book or listen to that album you’ve been wanting to hear while someone else does all the driving.

Get Up Earlier

This is definitely not at the top of most people’s lists but, really, the early morning hours before anyone else gets up is a great time to read, reflect and relax.  Many gyms offer early morning yoga classes which could be an excellent way to give your body a gentle workout while your mind takes a break.  Another great early morning activity is journaling. Sometimes, just getting thoughts out on paper can be such a release.

Make Bath Time Count

Those few minutes you spend in the shower each day are probably the most regular “alone time” you get. Plan to use it well! Purchase some energizing aroma therapy products that you love, and make the most of the few minutes you have to yourself. While you’re there, take some deep breaths and let the water wash away some of that tension you’re carrying.

Use Chore and TV Time Wisely

When you use your kids’ TV time to do chores, two things begin to happen: 1) Your kids don’t participate in the chores, and 2) They end up watching a lot more TV. Instead, do the chores together as a family. This way, you can use your children’s TV time to sit and relax, collect your thoughts, listen to some music, or write in a journal.

Swap or Share Babysitting With Other Parents

Know another parent who might want to share a babysitter for a joint night of fun?  Let the kids entertain each other while you decompress.  Another option is to find other parents who would be willing to watch your kids while you head to your book club in exchange for you taking care of their little darlings while they take a photography class.