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Women's Health

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Lauren Graham's Healthy Approach to Parenthood

The childless actress is once again playing a single mom in a hit TV show. How does she do it?

Secrets for Single Parenthood Success continued...

Pick your battles -- and your policies. Be willing to give on small things -- "how tidy their rooms are, or the crazy haircut," suggests Doherty. "Tell your kids: 'I'll do my best to work around your schedules, too, but these are my rules and they will not be bent.'" 

Maintain rituals. Whatever you did together before as a family -- dining out every Tuesday night, following special holiday traditions, or reading stories before bed -- be sure to continue after a separation. "You will be doubly exhausted now, but it's doubly important," says Doherty. "And most studies on the subject indicate the family dinner is the most important family ritual to maintain." 

Monitor your teens. "A big mistake single-parent families make is losing track of their teenagers," Doherty says. "Know who your child's friends are. Know where she's going. Insist she check in whenever you ask her to."

Graham on Broadway

Before Graham wanted to become an actress, she was a girl who loved horses. "I didn't have dolls," she jokes, "just a million little horse figures." She adored the stables, the one-on-one connection with the animal, the competitive sport of jumping at equestrian centers. "I was trying to figure out what I could do [for an occupation] to be near them -- jockey, maybe? Mounted policeman? Veterinarian? But then I landed a part in a high school production and everything shifted." At once hooked on theater life, Graham finally found her true calling, which led her first to New York and then to Hollywood. Now, she rarely goes riding but claims she's planning a return to the saddle, "when I retire. It'll be an old-age kind of thing." 

Graham's dream of playing Broadway came true when she won the role of 1930s nightclub singer Miss Adelaide in the 2009 revival of Guys and Dolls

"It was a dream, but then there's the reality," she laughs, recalling the toil of performing in eight shows a week for six consecutive months. "It was physically demanding … I discovered the neti pot. I was on [prescription medication] the whole time for heartburn. Everyone on Broadway is, because you have the adrenaline of performing, you eat after the show, and then you ask your body to go to sleep -- you just can't digest properly. 

"A friend who's done a lot of Broadway sat me down before I started and said: 'You will not eat tomatoes [because of their acidity]. You will sleep 12 hours every night. You will not eat heavily after a show. I did all of those things … I even saw [former President] Bill Clinton's voice doctor when I thought I was losing mine."

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