Is This Real Moms Secret Part of Your Parenting

So just how balanced is your life these days? How often are you taking time out for yourself? Here are a few questions to test just how well you're using this last essential motherhood secret.

■ Are you noticing any of these stress symptoms regularly: rapid breathing, pounding heart, sleeplessness, irritability?

■ Do you just seem unable to find enough hours in the day? Do you find yourself always behind or always running to keep up?

■ Are you complaining that you never have enough time for yourself—or any time for yourself—and then feeling guilty if you do take the time?

■ Have you lost who you are? Is your identity so wrapped up in the role of "mother" that you've forgotten other aspects of self—you know, woman, gourmet, wife, artist, lover, friend, tennis player, marathon runner, seamstress, gardener, writer, daughter, niece?

■ How's your love life going? Is it hard to recall the last time (and the time before that) you and your significant other had a quiet, intimate time together—and that would mean without the kids?

■ Do you spend enough time with your girlfriends?

■ Exercise, health, medical checkups—are you taking care of you?

What is the one thing you are committed to doing differently to start taking better care of you? Write it on the lines here. Then get ready to learn the secret and use it with your family.

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