Find Your Happy Parent Place

Don't Overdo It

Take a good, hard look at your family calendar. Is it totally marked up with kid commitments? If so, you should think about paring it back -- a lot. Overscheduling a child robs her of downtime (which is critical for her healthy development and for nurturing creativity), and shuttling her from place to place can seriously undercut your happiness too.

Your best bet is to figure out which commitments are really crucial, and drop everything else. That's exactly what Mari Jo Schlosser, of Edmond, Oklahoma, did. After talking things out in a family meeting, she decided to limit her kids to one sport or class per week. "I was spending most of my day driving Gregory, Caitlin, and Hayley from one thing to the next," she says. "They had no time to relax, and it was stressing all of us out."

Since starting a car pool, Schlosser no longer feels like a chauffeur. And her kids appreciate having the power to decide which activities to pursue. "Let your child figure out what she wants to do," advises Susan Newman, PhD, a social psychologist and author of The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It -- and Mean It. "It'll make everyone happier in the end."

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