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How to Treat Yo' Self When No One Is Looking

Motherhood often feels like a 24-hour gig in which you're lucky to have time to wash your hair, much less treat yourself to something nice. You don't have to wait for the one Hallmark day of the year to practice self-care on the sly; you can slot in rewards to your day in small increments, which add up to feeling treated and nurtured. Here are 10 ways to treat yourself when nobody's looking. You'll want to steal every slice of time for yourself that you can.

RELATED: 12 Things Every Parent Does But Won't Tell Their Kids

1. Wine and … dish

While this may not sound like the combo you had in mind for your evening, when you pair something you enjoy with a task that can be tedious, you can take some of the chore out of the effort. Set your glass of vino on the edge of the sink (it could also simply be your favorite non-alcoholic beverage), and take sips between scrubbing.

2. Sweet pocket

Sometimes a little treat ... can go a long way.

Several moms I know keep little bags of their favorite sweet treat—jelly beans, chocolate-covered espresso beans, etc.—in their pocket or purse for quick pleasure. Since sugar stimulates endorphins, sometimes a little treat during your toddler's tantrum or teenager's moody fit can give you a moment's relief that can go a long way.

3. Audiobook getaway

I used to hate going to the grocery store until I downloaded the Audible app on my phone. Now, I pop in my earbuds when shopping, and if I can leave my son at home with my husband, it's actually like a little getaway with the lovely voice of an actor reading me words. It also makes me feel less guilty for having no time to read. The audio books come in handy for so many occasions: when it's taking a long time to put my son to sleep, when I'm chauffeuring kids around to activities, waiting in line at the post office or trying to tune out an annoying coworker.

4. Play footsie

As a mom, your feet work overtime, but how often do you take time to treat them? When your kids take a bath, either pull up a stool and dip your own weary tootsies into the bubbles, or fill a bucket and soak beside them while your kiddos play. Put on some nice music, get some swanky smelly bath salts. Don't know what it is about essential oils plus salt that makes me feel like I've spent a ton of money on myself, but it works. This way, you can stay in the room while doing something nice for your body.

5. Instant spa

The other day while waiting with a fellow mom at our sons' taekwondo class, she pulled out some delicious lavender hand lotion. I'm a sucker for the scent and asked if I could use some. In the two minutes I spent rubbing the stuff on my startlingly dry hands, I felt a little air of rejuvenation come over me. I thought: Add in a hot towel and this would feel like a few minutes at the spa. You can keep a tube of lotion, or some of that fancy French facial mist in your purse or car for an anytime refresher.

6. The long walk

I can literally stop and smell the roses.

If you have a mailbox at the end of your driveway, a newspaper delivery or need to put out the garbage, extend your time. Stand and sniff the air. My next door neighbor grows amazing roses so I can literally stop and smell the roses. Sometimes I'll call out, "Putting out the garbage and then I'm taking a walk around the block" right as I'm running out the door so no one can stop me.

7. Screen time

Face it—we now carry in our pockets and purses computers so intelligent they used to require entire rooms to house back in the '80s. I binged every episode of "Breaking Bad" using the Netflix app on my phone in the 20-minute windows every day waiting for my son to get out of school. No excuse not to indulge in your favorite show, magazine or game of "Words With Friends."

8. Naughty pleasures

Several moms I know have a "naughty pleasure"—indulging in something they wouldn't let their children have, such as sodas or doughnuts for breakfast. One mom treats herself right after she drops her kids at school, another right after her kids get home and are ensconced in their homework. I always let myself have a latte on Fridays between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. when my son is in his art class—it's late for coffee, but at only one day a week and when I don't have to wake up early the next day, it feels luxurious.

9. Reclaim the bathroom

Whether at work or at home, the bathroom is a mighty place of power-mom time if you remember to lock the door. While little hands may pound on the door or coworkers may wonder what's taking you so long, the fact is, nobody can argue with the call of nature, and nobody has to know that you've really snuck in to enjoy a few pages of People magazine, a square of salted caramel chocolate or simply three extra minutes to breathe quietly without people hassling you.

10. Steal time

Many moms I know, already used to being a little sleep-deprived, rise just an hour or so earlier than their children to capture that particular deep silence of the early morning. I use that hour to prepare myself a cup of coffee and write in my journal without anyone asking me a hundred rapid-fire questions or needing me to urge him to pick up the pace. Sometimes, there is no better treat than time to oneself.

RELATED: You'll Miss the Tough Parenting Moments, Too

I'm sure you can think of dozens of others small ways to treat yourself in a day. Buy yourself flowers, save yourself a special cut of meat for dinner and many more. Since motherhood rarely comes with a paycheck, these small rewards can add up.

Image via Twenty20/BrigitteStanford

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