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Being a parent is a joyous job, but like most positions, it comes with its share of anxieties. To help put anxieties in perspective and make sure they don't infringe on your ability to have fun with your kids, try these ideas:
1. Share the work, and the fun. Divide parental responsibilities with your spouse so neither of you feels overwhelmed and unable to relax with the family.
2. Let some things go. So what if you didn't have time to cook dinner and clean up the kitchen? Family life doesn't follow a strict schedule, and chances are your kids and spouse don't care about the three dirty forks in the sink!
3. Allow kids responsibility. They'll appreciate your confidence in them, and you'll get chores done more quickly, leaving you with more time to relax as a family.
4. Ask for input. Don't feel as if you need to plan every family activity -- ask your children for ideas, and enlist their help in setting up the activities they suggest.
5. Step back. Your kids are individuals, and sometimes they may disagree with you. Teach them how to disagree civilly; then value their strong opinions.
6. Give kids perspective. When they're upset about friendships or dating relationships, acknowledge their feelings -- but try to help them see that those feelings will pass, suggests Gloria Butler, EdD, a psychologist in private practice in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
7. Trust your family. Instead of feeling stressed and protective the minute your child finds him or herself in a tough -- but not serious -- situation, allow yourself to relinquish the responsibility for solving the problem. In almost every instance, your child will solve problems on her own (with your guidance, if she asks).
8. Remember today is one day in a lifetime. When tension is brewing in your family, remember that you will work it out, and it will most likely be forgotten in a day or two.
9. Give yourselves a break. With everyone's busy schedules, sometimes the most relaxing thing you can do as a family is to simply pile onto the couch and watch the tube. That's okay once in a while!
10. Let your family know you're human. Ask for time alone when you need it. Whether you want to take a hot bath, or simply watch Sex and the City by yourself, a break can refresh you and make you a better parent when you come back to the group.