It sounds a bit cliché (and possibly inappropriate, in the aftermath of the GFC), but it is not just (or even mainly) about spending – it’s about unadulterated, guilt free ME time. So there are rules:
i) TIME – leave at least 2-3 hours. You don’t want to be rushing around looking for things. It’s got to be stress free.
ii) NO KIDS - or it would hardly be therapeutic! J. Ideally they should not even be in the vicinity! (E.g.: if leaving them with dad, it’s best if they stay at home, rather than come along and dad stays with them while you shop. Somehow, it’s just not the same).
iii) ONLY FOR YOU – if it’s ME time, it’s got to be about ME. No entering, or even LOOKING at any kids’ clothes, men’s clothes, gifts for a friend… anything that is not strictly for YOU.
iv) SALES – not a firm rule, but I found it helps to go during the sales and/or to a factory outlet type place, just to ensure the shopping isn’t slightly tinged with guilt about the spending afterwards.
I tried it and I loved it! I got a few items for my VERY neglected wardrobe; but mostly I think I just enjoyed feeling “free”, roaming around the shops without my brain working overtime to amuse the children while I hurriedly tried something on or trying to plan the week ahead, just doing something solely for ME. M