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Family strategies

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Priority-based living

One problem: Your home is as sanitary and well-run as a hospital — and just about as much fun. You spend all your time cleaning, cooking and chauffeuring but never have time to enjoy your family.

Solution: Spend a few minutes each week planning ways to create fun family memories. Even on the busiest day you can set aside 15 minutes to walk the dog or have a tickle war with your kids. Don't forget to plan for personal and couple time as well.

Better marriage communication

One problem: You husband spends little time helping out with housecleaning, cooking or caring for your children.

Solution: Take time to discuss your need for help and why he hasn't done more to assist you. Perhaps he felt he'd be intruding on your territory. Maybe he has tried in the past and your standards were so high he felt frustrated and scolded rather than appreciated for his effort.

Encouraging team spirit

One problem: In order to get your children to help around the house, you believe your only choice is to nag. Even that doesn't seem to get results.

Solution: Take a step back and listen to yourself. Is it possible your family tunes you out because you sound unceasingly critical? Try a one-to-five approach. For every time you have to reprimand or give negative input, be alert for five ways to praise or give positive input.

Smoother mornings

One problem: You often find yourself spending precious minutes hunting for your keys or purse.

Solution: Designate a basket, shelf or hooks by your door where you always place your keys, purse, sunglasses and items for errands.

School day success

One problem: At least one of your children always seems to scramble to find missing homework or a permission slip before heading for school.

Solution: Set up in-boxes on your kitchen desk or countertop for each child. Have them unload school papers and forms into their boxes. Look at them each night and follow through on any necessary actions.

Healthy family dinners

One problem: The hour before dinner is always hectic as you prepare dinner and set the table.

Solution: Many tasks associated with dinner preparation and cleanup — from setting the table to making individual salads — are perfect jobs for kids of any age. By requiring them to help out, you're teaching them important life skills.

Clutter control

One problem: You never seem to have time to declutter and organize your storage areas.

Solution: Set a goal of finishing one closet, cupboard or storage area each week until you've worked your way through the house. During busy weeks, tackle something small like a medicine cabinet.

Good time management

One problem: You're always running late in the morning because your child is never ready on time.

Solution: Many times suffering the consequences is the best teacher. Don't "save" your kids; one trip to the principal's office may be all it takes to make them prompt. Also be sure to model the desired behavior.

Financial objectives

One problem: You often find yourself regretting a purchase that you felt you had to have while in the store.

Solution: Get perspective before making a purchase by considering how many hours you'd need to work to pay for it. Is it worth that much work?

Finding time for you

One problem: You're bored with your life.

Solution: Sign up for a class at a local college or fitness center or simply try to read one interesting book a month. You'll find life is much richer when you're stretching your mind or body.