5 Sneaky Ways I Find Time to Unwind After Work

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My favorite thing after coming home from a long day? Walking into my house, exhausted, and having my two adorably wild (and semi-scary) little munchkin people come flying at me at 1,000 mph. “Mommy! Mommy!” they yell, “Look what I did! Look what she did! Look, I have no pants on!”

I love my kids more than anything, but suddenly my best-laid plans to unwind after work become as realistic as my one-time mission to stay fabulous after babies. In other words: ha.

Whenever my mind ponders the obscure, lofty concept of winding down after work, it flashes to one of those vintage-y cartoon drawings or black-and-white 1950’s pictures of fathers coming home to their families with the wife standing in the kitchen – apron clad, holding a stiff drink – so that the man of the house can relax for a bit in the corner and read the newspaper before a stupendous supper. Where do I sign me up for that? (The relaxing part, that is.)

Funny thing though: As moms, we can sign up for that. We just have to be extra-smart and super-sneaky about it. Not for the purpose of avoiding guilt (for the record, I don’t believe in guilt), but just to ensure that our wind-down time is a real thing that actually happens, as opposed to a just-out-of-grasp fantasy in our heads.

Against all odds, I’ve figured out some sneaky ways to claim some much-needed me time after work. The tips below may be a little out there, but hey, they work for me. I recommend you complete in the following order:

1. Scent your car

Turn the inside of your car into the lobby of a day spa: Get yourself some essential oils, or even those cheap hanging air fresheners that you can pick up from every gas station under the sun. Lavender, peppermint, coriander, citrus, vanilla … pick your favorite and stash it under the seats. Beauty, health, and lifestyle experts rant about the scientific power of smell and how it affects our mood, so let’s take their word for it. It’s been working for me!

2. Drive home in silence

No music. No phone. No talking to yourself. You’ll be amazed … it’s just like meditating.

3. Sit in your car

Upon returning home, do NOT get out of your car until 10 minutes has passed — 15 minutes if it’s been a rough day. Sit in your garage and scroll Facebook or call a friend to catch up, but do not — DO NOT — open that driver’s door until you’re good and ready. Remember: You are making a “transition” back into home life (even if you were only gone for a few hours). Let your body and brain have one final moment of quiet before you get ambushed the second you walk through the door. Once you exit your car, you cannot go back. You know what I’m talking about.

and/ or …

4. Nap in your car

(You think I’m kidding? You wish.) I’m notorious for doing this during daytime hours — in busy parking lots or in my own driveway. All of us are sleep-deprived in one way or another. Naps, coincidentally, are not just the greatest things known to mankind, but also one of the most effective ways to treat sleep deprivation. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a 20-minute power nap is known to boost alertness and won’t interfere with nighttime sleep. Lock the doors, spread out one of those old-school windshield shades, and recline your seat. If anyone knocks on your window, give ‘em a look from hell.

5. Have a glass of wine

So juvenile, but if all else fails, so necessary. I’m not encouraging anything extreme, dangerous or debilitating, but a little glass of somethin’ buzzy to take the edge off once in a while isn’t anything to be ashamed of. (Hey, those 1950’s husbands did it.)

So, how do you unwind after a long day?

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