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Make Over Your Weekends!

Chores. Errands. Work. Too often they seem to conspire to eat up your days off. The more than 1,000 of you who responded to our recent "How Are Your Weekends?" survey say that your kids are doing just fine. In fact, 80 percent of you say they have better weekends than you did at their age! But you wish you could carve out more time for yourselves. Here, what you told us, plus reality-tested ways  -- from moms, dads, and other experts  -- to make your Saturdays and Sundays more fun and relaxing:

1. Find Room for Romance
Almost 40 percent of you say you crave more private time with your significant other. But fewer than one in ten couples manage that on a regular basis, according to our survey. The most obvious solution, of course, is to schedule a weekly date. "My husband and I try to go out to dinner every Friday or Saturday night," says Cynthia Eicher, mom of a 5- and a 2-year-old in St. Paul, MN. "It makes our marriage stronger to have fun alone together. We're lucky we have two sitters to choose from whom the kids just love."

But what if you can't afford (or find) reliable babysitting? One strategy is to swap services with another couple who have kids the same age. They look after your child one Saturday, and you watch theirs the next.

An offbeat way to squeeze romance into your weekend: Take to the road for a leisurely afternoon drive. Most young kids are good at sleeping in the car, so while your child snoozes, you can catch up with your partner. If you have an especially sound sleeper, you can even stop for a roadside picnic. "Car trips are particularly conducive to conversation because there are no distractions," says Karen Zager, Ph.D., a psychologist in New York City.

It can also help to spend 15 minutes every weeknight  -- no matter how frazzled you feel  -- sitting down and just talking to each other. "Everyone can find this kind of time in their schedule," says Zager. Regular tête-à-têtes help keep a relationship in good shape, since you're able to nip problems in the bud instead of letting resentment fester and then clog up your weekends.

The least time-crunched parents are those who don't feel guilty putting their kids to bed at a reasonable hour so that they can enjoy each other in the evening.

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