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How to Cram a Life into Your Crazy Schedule

How do you give enough to your job and your kids (without cutting out important stuff like, say, sleep)? Steal some ideas from REDBOOK reader Debbie Mielewski.

I let Grammy lend a hand.

When we first had kids, we hired a nanny, but she wasn't the ideal solution: It became a struggle to get her to the house early enough — and when she ran late, Kevin and I would have to make the tough decision of whose schedule was more important on that day so one of us could go to work on time while the other waited at home with the kids. And when the nanny called in sick, we were at a loss.

So, four years ago, when my then recently widowed mother began talking about how she was having trouble filling her days, I had an "a ha" moment and suggested she move closer to us. That way, we could all spend more time together and she could be another person here to help out.

My mother agreed, we snatched up a house for sale on our block, and she's been an invaluable help to our family ever since. The only way Kevin and I are able to leave the house so early — before the kids are even awake — is because Grammy comes over, helps them through their morning routines, and takes them to school. Then in the evenings, around 5:30, we all head over to her place for dinner. The kids set the table and I help with cleanup, but we leave the cooking to Grammy! She likes to make traditional dishes like potato pancakes and corned beef and cabbage. She's a lifesaver.

I take time for me at night.

A couple of years ago, we splurged and installed a sauna in the basement. We don't go on many vacations, so a sauna seemed like a great treat for us. I try to get down there nightly, but it usually ends up happening every other night. For 20 minutes, I enjoy complete and total me time. When I'm in the sauna, my kids know not to interrupt me — Kevin is constantly reminding them to respect that rule. I'm the type of person who's always cold, and boy, does it get cold where we live in Michigan, so it's the ultimate luxury for me. It allows me to relax and unwind and tell myself that no matter what craziness happened that day, tomorrow is a fresh start!

Originally published on June 22, 2010

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