Drop one activity per week.
Paring your kids' schedules will leave everyone happier and calmer. You don't have to forget about soccer, dance, Gymboree, or playdates -- just don't do them all at once.
After work, Nanci Schwartz of Lady Lake, Florida, sometimes heads outside with her husband and 19-month-old daughter, Acadia. "We all sit and draw on the sidewalk with chalk," she says. "It's great family time for us, and it makes me feel happy because it reminds me of my own childhood. Plus, it's helped us meet more of our neighbors."
Set up a reading hour.
Whether or not your kids can read yet, designate some time every afternoon (before dinner is ideal) or evening as "quiet time." Fill a corner with cozy pillows, a basket of books, and a light snack. And when the kids are otherwise occupied, use the spot to relax with your own good read.