Finding “me time” is hard for most moms, but I found it especially difficult when my twins were infants and toddlers (remember I also had an older child). Seemed like I couldn’t leave them with anyone–most friends, family and sitters I tried were overwhelmed–which was how I felt most of the time, exactly why I wanted a break! It’s very important, though, to get some quiet time to yourself to decompress and bolster yourself for more parenting. Cost is often a barrier as well; hiring a babysitter for 3 kids (or more) can run $15/hr or higher in many areas. I could never justify spending money just so I could take a walk alone or sit and relax in a  coffee shop by myself.

You may need to get creative to find frugal ways to find “me time.” Try these and share your own ideas below:

Trade time

Trade an hour or two with a friend/neighbor who also has kids. Yes it’s crazy when I have 6 kids at once, but on my turn it’s silent. It’s great! You can trade something other than babysitting with those who don’t have kids; offer to pick up groceries, run errands, or do yard work.

Borrow a big kid

Do you know anyone with an 8-12 year old who might want to play with your kids? See if you can borrow them for an hour here and there. Most kids that age really like to play with younger kids, and you might be helping your friend out with babysitting as well. You stay in the house–this isn’t a supervising situation–but it gives you the flexibility to walk around the house. Carve out a few minutes to read a magazine on your patio or (gasp) have an uninterrupted phone call.

Do your own mani/pedi

Luxuries often go by the wayside when you’re a busy mom. Instead of sneaking off for a pampering session, I learned to do my own pedicure during naptime or after the kids were in bed. Petit Elephant has two great tutorials: How to Manicure at Home and How-to Home Manicure Tips and Tricks.

Head to IKEA

You laugh, but I’ve done it many times. I drop the kids off at IKEA’s Smaland (their child care area) and walk/daydream through the colorful rooms of my local IKEA store. It’s only 20-30 minutes, but it’s worth it. Other than that one time, it’s been successful.

Take older kids to the park

Now that my kids are older (6, 6 and 8), I can actually set them up with an activity and say, “Mommy needs some quiet time” and they’ll leave me alone–for a little while. This works best at the park, where I can usually read or just relax while they play independently. Obviously, you need older kids for this one. I’m looking for new ideas for this summer, when we’ll have long days to fill.

What are some frugal ways you find “me time?”