You schedule time with your husband, kids, and friends, but sometimes you need to pencil in a little me-time, too. Make it fun with these solo adventures. By Gena Kaufman
Finally complete a Pinterest project
If you're a typical pinner, you probably spend hours saving images of beautifully prepared vegetables and DIY furniture makeover projects, but never seem to have the time to actually test out one of the ideas. Instead of you taking yourself out, send your husband off with the kids, gather your art materials or cake frosting tools, and have a crafternoon. Then, enjoy the fruits of your labor by munching on a few of those homemade salted caramels, or hanging all your necklaces on your new picture frame-turned-jewelry organizer.
Tap into your inner techie
Does your toddler know how to work the iPad mini you received for Christmas better than you do? The Apple store offers free workshops that can teach you how to do anything better on your gadgets - take photos, make movies, run your business. Sign up for some training at the closest store, spend an hour learning all the technological tricks and treats, and then come home and direct your kids in a new family movie.
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Get an education - about the fun stuff
Signing up for a class is a smart way to add purpose to me-time, and there are great deals to be scored on Groupon or other daily-deal sites. BYOB painting sessions, piano lessons, truffle-making classes - you name it, there's a coupon for it. Say you always wanted to learn French. Sign up for a beginner's class every Thursday night, where you can practice your verb conjunction and vocabulary, and après class, stop to enjoy a croissant or a glass of Bordeaux - because you have to indulge in the culture as well as know the words, right?
Make your chores less cumbersome
When you're swamped with work, kids' sporting events and to-dos, it can feel impossible to find any spare time to relax. But if you channel your inner Mary Poppins, you can make your errands into a playdate just for you. Forget the same old grocery chain you always run into, and head to the local farmer's market to leisurely shop for the week's produce while sipping a freshly squeezed juice. Or skip your 45 minutes on the gym's treadmill, and go for a scenic bike-ride instead. You're still completing your chores, but in ways that feels like celebrations instead of duties.
Make the rounds
Since you don't get to take yourself on a date every day, you might as well pack a lot of punch into the time you do get. Make a game-plan of at least three of your favorite activities or treats, allowing you to try a little bit of lots of things you love. Stop one, a scone and a latte at your favorite coffee house. Stop two, tacos from that food truck everyone is raving about. Stop three, a beer flight at the local microbrewery for a few mini-nightcaps. Stop four, total bliss. Keeping yourself on the move will make it seem like even more of an adventure, and getting to do so many of your favorite things will leave you feeling completely indulged.
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Start your morning right
If you've never worked up the nerve to eat dinner alone at a restaurant, but occasionally crave a peaceful meal without squabbling kids and a picky husband, then make breakfast your most important and best meal of the day. Getting up early might be the last thing you want to do, but once you've dragged yourself out of bed and into the car, you'll appreciate an unusually calm, refreshing start to your day. And since breakfast doesn't tend to be a very social meal for most people, you won't feel even a little weird sitting in a diner booth alone, reading the morning paper and sipping bottomless coffee. In fact, you might start wishing you could do it every day.
Tackle a challenge
Not the type to train for a marathon or climb Mount Everest? Don't worry. You can still dare yourself to push your physical limits - and have a ton of fun doing it - by signing up for a Dirty Girl Women's Mud Run. These "adventure races" are actually obstacle courses with hilariously named events like "Utopian Tubes" and "PMS" (Pretty Muddy Stuff). They're non-competitive - and therefore not scary if you're not much of an athlete - and they raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. A fun challenge that benefits all women? Best date ever.
Take a personal staycation
Staycations - vacations in your own town - have become popular for couples and families seeking a break on a budget, but why not take a staycay-day for yourself? Block out a day - or even just an afternoon - and take advantage of a local attraction that you've never bothered to check out. Suburbanites can drive to the nearest city, but even the smallest towns have spots you might not know much about - like a wacky little museum or a hidden park. You'll get to enjoy your own company, and you might discover a fun new place to share with your family or visitors on another day.
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Get blown away
If you're craving some pampering, but a weekend at the spa just isn't in the credit cards, you can still get much-needed relaxation during an afternoon out. A mani-pedi and massage are classic options, but for a fun alternative, try a blowout. There's a reason no-cuts-just-style salons like Drybar and Rachel Zoe's DreamDry keep popping up in new places - they're quick and affordable ways to have a moment of calmness to yourself, sipping champagne while someone washes your hair for a change. Plus, you leave with shiny locks that will make you feel like you're the star of a shampoo commercial for days to follow.
Unplug - for real
Despite loving those tech products and internet obsessions we've already mentioned, the most invigorating way to spend time alone is to literally be solo, which means cutting yourself off from all of the busy clutter of the modern world. Take your dog on a hike, and leave your headphones at home so you can just listen to the sounds around you. Sit on your porch with a book, a cup of tea, and your cell phone turned off - and we don't just mean on vibrate. By the time you've stopped feeling phantom vibrations you could swear are incoming text messages, you'll realize how much you needed a break to just hear yourself think.
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