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Ways for working parents to tame stress

As a working parent, do you need some relief from the stress of managing a career and a family? Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the time you spend at home.

End the workday

When you get home from work, change your clothes at once to signal the end of the workday.

"Take deep breaths while changing and then take at least 20 minutes to be alone," says Arlene Brown, M.D., a family practice physician in New Mexico and a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "You'll be better able to deal with stress at home if you can find a small amount of time every day to be away from your family and unwind."

Use work skills at home

Business skills—time management, goal setting, planning, delegating—can help at home. Write lists of activities and errands for the week. Keep clutter magnets like countertops clean by using baskets or folders to hold what you really need. And don't forget those fellow co-workers at home, your children. Children can help around the house as long as the job is practical and they know the value of their effort.

Find a family hobby

"Hobbies can be a good de-stressor, and if the whole family is involved you are building communication plus developing a lifelong habit for your children," Dr. Brown says. Choose any activity—cooking, walking, bike-riding, or bird-watching. Use the time to talk without being rushed.

Practice kindness

Doing something for someone else can make you feel good and help you appreciate your life. Make a meal for a new mom or pull the weeds from your older neighbor's yard.

Ease your mind

We're all in the same boat, so stop worrying if the house isn't spotless. Set realistic expectations at home.

One final tip: If stress is getting in the way of your ability to get through the day, talk with your doctor. A physician can check for health problems that stress may cause and offer advice for coping with stress.

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