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Moms, don't leave out the 'me time'

  • Story Highlights
  • With other demands, moms may not take own needs into consideration
  • Expert: Not taking time for oneself can lead to resentment, exhaustion
  • Analogy: A car whose fuel is exhausted will stop running
  • Being content helps you be a more effective mom
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By Linda Saether
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- I am not a Trekkie but most days, I feel like I could be living on the starship Enterprise.

In many homes, the mom is the chief caregiver, chauffeur, cook and scheduler.

Not Capt. James Kirk's ship from the 1960s, but from the newer "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

That's the one with the bald captain who, whenever something catastrophic is about to send him and his ship into certain and horrific peril, and someone on the crew comes up with a scheme that just might save them all, he turns to his hunky second in command, curtly nods and says, " Make it so." Well that seems to be my role, at least in my family life, as it is for many working mothers, we're the "make-it-so" people.

Whether it's household maintaining, kid scheduling, meal prepping, school arranging, activity enabling, anything lost finding, pet caring and just plain all around constant nagging, er, reminding, we all seem to be holding that "make-it-so card."

And sometimes that job gets a bit overwhelming.

Dr. Nadine Kaslow, professor of psychiatry at Emory University and chief psychologist for the Grady Health System, has an explanation for why that might be. "As more and more women are in the workplace and are working full time, and then they often come home and work full time, so they often have two full-time jobs. I think as the pace of life has gotten even faster with even more and more demands, children having more activities, cell phones, text messaging, e-mailing. The demands have gotten greater." Video Health for Her: Watch more on moms and "me time" »

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And those greater demands aren't going anywhere. So what's a mom who's at her wits end to do?

Well, experts such as Kaslow advise us to do something many mothers might find difficult: We need to make ourselves a bigger priority.

Yikes! Another thing to do!

But this task just might have some real benefits.

"There are a number of reasons it's good for a woman to take care of herself," Kaslow explained. "First of all it's really hard to take care of other people if you are not taking care of yourself. If you think about a car metaphor, if there's not enough fuel in the car, the car won't go," she said. "A second reason is when people aren't taking care of themselves, they tend to get resentful of the other people they are taking care of in their lives, so they may become short or irritable with them. A third reason is that life is more meaningful and gratifying if we take care of ourselves; we tend not to feel depressed," she added. "We feel less anxious, and moms who are not depressed and less anxious are more able to be effective mothers." How do you describe Mom?

And who doesn't want to be a more effective mother?

But how do you know if you aren't getting enough self-renewal time?

Kaslow has some advice: "I would say if you say to yourself, 'Gosh I wish I had time to read a book; I never get to exercise; I don't get any time with my partner; I never see my friends,' and you find yourself spending time just thinking about what you wish you were doing -- that would be a warning sign to me."

"Certainly if you start to feel like you are a little depressed and a little anxious because there is not much that is fun in your life, not much that gives you pleasure, that would be another warning."

And don't get suckered into believing the only way to really get in time for yourself is by spending a day at the spa or going on some major credit-crunching shopping spree.


Experts in these matters say that when it comes to getting the most out of your time, it's the little things that count. "Take a bath or read a book. Make a list or think through what is really valuable to you," Kaslow suggests. "Make sure these are things you will enjoy that are within your budget," she said, so that you're not stressing out even more about the money you're spending.

Because there really is nothing to be done about money stress. Everybody's got that. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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