1. Sing! Or at least put on some good music. Singing pulled me through colic with my first child (it in no way made him stop crying, but it gave me something other than the crying to focus on). These days, when the melting hour hits at 5PM, things always go better for at least a few minutes if I can remember to put on some music and do a silly dance for the kids.
2. Trick your brain. When I'm in a terrible mood for the bedtime routine, I take a second to transport myself twenty years in the future and imagine what I would give to hold my little three-year-old boy in my lap just one more time. Changes my whole attitude instantly.
3. Declutter. Smooth out your race through the day by throwing out the sippy cup that always leaks or the toy that takes up too much space and no one plays with or the socks that haven't had mates since last summer. Reduce ruthlessly - I'm a much happier parent since deciding we only need three sippy cups per kid.
4. Join something. It will give you places to go and people to talk to. Joining my local MOMS Club when my first child was a year old was the beginning of breaking my stay-at-home isolation. I should have done it sooner! Ditto for StrollerStrides, which gave me some much-needed exercise, too (it's not free, though). I've also heard good things about MOPS.
5. Be imperfect! Don't compare yourself to the magazines (heck, don't even read them). Don't compare yourself to the mommy blogosphere (but please keep reading!). Don't even compare yourself to other moms you know. No one does it ALL. Admire others, but don't lose sight of the admirable things about you. (Read Marta Dansie's hilarious piece on blogging&jealousy for an inspiring laugh.)
6. Practice gratitude. On a bad day, try GRRRattitude.
7. Reduce the daily stress. Make basic household tasks habitual so that you never have to check if the dishwasher's been unloaded or worry there isn't any clean underwear or wonder at 6 o'clock what you could possibly serve for dinner. Know how long it takes to get out the door and plan for it (I have a get-out-the-door alarm on my phone set for school mornings, which I know I can hit "snooze" on three times while I'm getting everybody ready). Know how long it takes to get from assembling dinner to kids-in-bed (turns out it takes me 2 hours - I have a "start evening" alarm set on my phone for that now, too). Forgive yourself when you don't follow through. Forgive your spouse and children when they don't follow through. Try again tomorrow.
Have a great weekend, everybody! (Oh, man, I was going to put Enjoy the weekends on the list. Oh, well.) Next week - guess who's walking?