Put yourself on the calendarJenny Stoddard, the Hamilton, Montana, mom of Fletcher, 6, Duncan, 4, and Sophia, 2, keeps a calendar on her refrigerator and pencils in appointments with herself -- "Twenty minutes here and thirty minutes there, just for painting, writing, even a nap." Michelle Cook of Maple Grove, Minnesota, gets creative with her time. "On Fridays I work through lunch so I can sneak in an hour at the library before picking up my daughter from daycare," says Cook, mom of Mira, 6 months. She still gets her work done -- and has a chance to enjoy some hot reads.
See if someone else can do it
Hate folding laundry? Send out your wash -- it may not be as expensive as you think. There are professional errand-runners as well, and dry cleaners who pick up. You can delegate some childcare, too. Call a local college -- students are often glad to babysit for reasonable rates or even for free, as part of a child-study course.
Audrey Schilaty, the Ferndale, Washington, mother of 2-year-old Dylan and 6-month-old June, swaps Friday-night babysitting with a friend. "The first time, my husband and I went out and rode some carnival rides, screaming like kids ourselves," she says.
Speaking of husbands, lucky you if yours already gets the co-parent picture. If he doesn't, pick a mellow time to talk with him about sharing the workload. Emphasize the benefits of spending more one-on-one time with the kids (not to mention the benefits of a more cheerful wife!). And promise to plan regular opportunities for him to do what he loves.
Simplify your surroundings
Spend a few minutes each day tossing anything you don't adore or use regularly and you'll be amazed at how much freer you'll soon be. Alysia Butler, mom of Griffin, 3, in Pepperell, Massachusetts, recently donated old clothes and baby items to hurricane victims. "It felt great to help some people out while lightening my own load as well," she says.