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Reclaim the Weekends

Attend only one big event per weekend day.

Creighton and Liza Abrams of Montclair, New Jersey, used to spend weekends ferrying their two daughters to as many birthday parties, plays, and museums as they could fit in. But when they found themselves dreading Saturdays and longing for Mondays, they realized their jam-packed schedule had to go. Now they limit themselves to one field trip or party per weekend day  -- choosing whichever activity seems the most important  -- and curtail their total drive time to an hour if at all possible. "We actually have time to do the really important things in life, like playing catch in the yard or chasing butterflies," says Creighton.

Honor naptime. Naps often go by the wayside on hectic days, but Mitch and Karen Leff of Atlanta swear they're a sanity saver for their boys, ages 4 and 2  -- and for them. "Even though my oldest doesn't always fall asleep anymore, he still needs the time to unwind. They both take an hour or so and come out much calmer," says Mitch. "And Karen and I get the chance to read or just rest."

Build more chores into the week. Terra Wellington, a mom of three in Los Angeles, takes a 5- to 30-minute block of time to tidy her house each weekday  -- whatever spare moments she can grab to fold a little laundry or wipe down kitchen counters  -- so by Saturday morning she doesn't have a week's worth of cleaning to do.
Stephanie Gallagher of Gaithersburg, Maryland, does her grocery shopping in the evening after her husband comes home from work and their two children are in bed. "The store is empty at that hour, and I don't have to worry about entertaining the kids," she says. Other moms take trips to the market or post office during their lunch hours, or en route to school pickups or after dropoffs, to shorten their weekend to-do lists. Or why not shop online after you've put the kids to bed?

Outsource whenever possible. While it may not be feasible to pay someone to tackle all of your weekend projects, you may be able to rid yourself of at least one undesirable task. If cleaning seems to rule your waking moments, it might be worth the cost to hire someone to do it for you a couple of times a month. A college student in the neighborhood might jump at the chance to pick up your dry cleaning or do some gardening for a little extra cash.

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