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Find your Zen between the chaos of work and supper

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Sandwich me-time between work and dinner

Back when I had slightly more conventional employment, I remember soaking up the quiet time of my commute between work and picking up my daughter at day care.

That after-work rush is a doozy, particularly if you're a woman who is responsible for children and/or preparing dinner for said children. Add a husband or partner to the mix and I wouldn't blame you for dreading the return home from work, because: more work.

I'm convinced, however, that women can make intentional choices to forego the conventions of modern society. If society tells us that coming home from work is a mad dash, I say we should buck the system by sandwiching in some me-time between work and dinner. With a little creativity, it doesn't have to be rocket science.

1. Put your time on the schedule

You won't make time for me-time unless you commit to it and your family knows about your commitment. Announce to yourself and your family that you require 15-20 minutes to unwind before launching into family activities and dinner preparation and ask them to respect that time.

2. Keep the television off

The gentle din of a television is not what you need. It will make you think you're relaxing, but it will only fill your brain with more voices and feelings of chaos.

3. Ditch the bags and backpacks

Don't think about clearing out your briefcase or your kids' backpacks or lunch boxes until dinner is over. The temptation is to get organized for the next day as soon as you get home, but those items can wait. Put them down in a place where they won't grab your attention.

4. Make an adult-friendly snack

Keep your after-work hunger at bay by whipping together a snack that you'll love. Think fresh fruits and veggies or crackers with peanut butter. Top it off with a tasty beverage that you'll enjoy sipping — like cucumber water or herbal tea.

5. Find a special spot

Go to a place in your house that fills you with calm, away from kids' toys or dirty laundry. Think a cushy chair with a cozy blanket and a view. Sit down, curl up and enjoy your snack.

6. Read something inspirational

You don't need to churn through a chapter of a book — just pick something that inspires you. And no, Twitter or your Facebook news feed doesn't count. For instance, you can read a page of a meditation guide to help center yourself for the rest of the evening.

7. Breathe deeply

Once you're done with your reading, close your eyes and breathe deeply 10 times. You might feel surprised at how quickly deep breaths can clear your mind.

8. Ask about joys and challenges

If your kids or husband come to find you — and they will — guide the conversation toward real connection. One of my favorite questions to foster my relationship with my daughter is to ask her about her favorite joy from the day and her biggest challenge from the day. You'll be surprised at the conversations that ensue.

That's it. You can complete all of these steps in just 15 minutes. Doing so will reorient you toward a peaceful evening with your loved ones, rather than the frantic pace that we all know so well.

This post was brought to you by Lance Sandwich Crackers.

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