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Getting More Family Time

Having a baby changes your life. But first it changes your days, your hours, and your minutes. From the moment you know you're pregnant, your new life as a timekeeper begins. You count months before delivery, then minutes between contractions, then segue almost instantly into counting the hours between feedings and naps. Soon you'll be counting time-outs, school days, and curfews.

Before my daughter, Anna, was born two years ago, I never knew how many hours I slept and often didn't wear a watch. Now the rhythms of our days are regulated by clocks. I have four hours of free time on the days when I have a babysitter, and two to do chores during nap time when I don't. These days I wear a watch and look at it often. So do my friends with school-age kids, who spend their days dashing from music lesson to birthday party to playdate.

On the other hand, while we're all watching time so closely, we feel less in control of it than we ever did. It gets lost. It slips away.

Yet just because time is elusive doesn't mean it's impossible to track. Developing ways to make each hour enjoyable  -- and getting more time for you and your family  -- can be easier than you think.

Barbara Rowley writes regularly about children and family for a variety of national magazines.