Girl playing in the bathtubDid you ever read a parenting magazine article that advised readers to “make time for yourself”? Did you laugh out loud? That piece of advice always reminds me of the Friends episode when Rachel finally realizes she wants to be with Ross, only to discover he’s gotten engaged to someone else, and Monica tells her, “You’re just going to have to get over it.”

“Oooohhhh, is that all I have to do?” comes Rachel’s sarcastic reply. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Of course you know that it’s important to have “me” time. The question is, how? I can’t promise you a week’s vacation, but if you’ve got a preschooler or toddler underfoot and feel like you’d kill or die for an hour—or even 10 minutes—of (relative) peace and quiet, here’s my top 10 list of tips for getting it.

10.  Get your kids used to being cared for by other adults.

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but if you haven’t done it yet, here’s how to get the ball rolling right now: Forward this post to your best mom friend in your neighborhood with a message saying, “Want me to take little Tommy for an hour or so on Wednesday? You can reciprocate whenever!” If she takes you up on the first half and she really is your bff, she’ll come through on the second half.

9.  Seek out places with free babysitting.

There are more than you think. In my neck of the woods, the YMCA (for members) and Wegman’s supermarket offer it—and there’s no rule that says you have to work out while you’re at the Y or food shop at Wegman’s; you just have to remain in the building. There’s even a sizable café inside Wegman’s. So have a latte, bring your smartphone, and catch up on emails, return phone calls, or sit and read Anna Karenina if you feel like it.

8.  On your kid’s birthday, stash some presents in the attic.

Then when you need a break, “find” them.

7.  If your child is too young to notice, give him battery-operated toys without the batteries.

For my son’s first birthday, my sister-in-law bought him the Little Tikes Little Champs Sports Center. Batteries were not included, but my son couldn’t care less. He loved this toy as it was for months before the novelty wore off. Then, on a rainy day when he refused to nap, I put batteries in, and all the lights and sounds made the toy new again.    

6.  If your kid loves baths, give her one during the day instead of rushing around like a crazy woman after dinner trying to get everything in before bedtime.

Let her play for as long as she likes.

5.  Stick to the AAP guideline saying kids should have 2 hours—at most—of screen time daily.

This sounds counterintuitive, but your child will be more likely to sit still and become absorbed in an age-appropriate show if he isn’t used to having the TV on all day long.

4.  Have a playdate.

This is another counterintuitive one, but sometimes another child can occupy your kid better than you can.

3.  Got slightly older kids? 

Tell them they can either play together nicely or clean their rooms. Once they start fighting, it’s time to clean their rooms. If you come through on the threat a couple of times, they’ll learn to play for a loooong time.

2.  Got a spouse at home?

Go to the bathroom…for a looooong time.

1.  Whisper in your hubby’s ear that if he takes the kids out for a bit, you’ll make it worth his while.

This one is probably your best bet. Just sayin’.

What would you add to this list? Let us know in comments!