Imagine having a day at the spa, lunch out with friends or a solo run in the park. Sounds great, but between caring for your kids, your partner and your home, there’s no time left for what you need. But time for yourself is crucial if you want to be a balanced mom.

Here are 5 ways to make it happen:

1. Put the guilt aside.
You might feel guilty making time for yourself because you’re taking away time from your family, but it’s important not to let that guilt get in the way. “You absolutely need to set aside time for yourself so that you can have time to mentally breathe, to nurture yourself and to feel good about yourself so that you have something to give while parenting and being an important figure in your family,” according to Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist and contributor for care.com.

Plus, taking time to care for yourself not only allows you to take care of everyone else, but it shows your kids you’re not just a mom. “You’re modeling what it’s like to be a happy and whole human being,” said Meagan Francis, author of The Happiest Mom: 10 Secrets To Enjoying Motherhood and blogger at thehappiestmom.com.

2. Be Realistic
“You have to find ways to make it work with your current reality,” Francis said. So if you’re a former gym rat, making time for two or three workouts a week might be more doable.  Or if you’re craving some relaxation at the spa, light candles, put on some music and take a bath instead. “Create little moments—it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing,” according to Ludwig who added occasionally time to yourself needs to happen outside of the house because it can be hard to pull yourself away.

3. Be Deliberate
According to a recent survey conducted by ForbesWoman and thebump.com, while a whopping 97 percent of stay at home moms said they’re in need of an occasional break from their parenting responsibilities, only half of them actually get one.

The support of family and friends is important but it’s not going to happen organically, so you have to be very clear about what you need. For example, if you want to meet friends for lunch once a month, ask your husband to watch the baby. Or if you want to take a yoga class once a week, swap babysitting with a friend.

4. Make It A Priority
If you don’t place importance on your own needs, you may feel frustrated by the day to day minutia of being a mom and even resent your partner because you’re not getting a break.  “It’s having the mindset that it’s going to happen, and you’re going to make it happen and you’re not going to wait for someone else to make it happen for you,” Francis said.

5. Create Habits
Particularly when your child is a baby, it can be very easy to get stuck in a pattern of being the one parent who does it all, which leaves you putting your down time and passions on the backburner. So if you don’t create a routine now, it can be difficult to do so later when your child is older. “The more you make it a habit early on, the easier it gets as your child grows and you have more time available to claim more chunks of time,” Francis said.

Julie Revelant is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, health, and women's issues and a mom. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com

Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She's also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.