Last updated: Jun 25, 2008
Q: My kids are so busy, and I dont want to deprive them of their activities. But how do I find time for me, too?


A: Many moms make the mistake of overloading their childrens schedules, crowding out time for their own self-care. Thats bad for both mom and the kids, says Kathy Peel, author of the best-selling The Family Manager books.

“We all need a healthy balance, and its the parents job to create that balance in a childs life. Children need time to do schoolwork, get plenty of rest, develop good eating habits, exercise daily, spend time alone, and have fun with the family. Plan your familys schedule based on those needs,” Peel says. As for the guilt factor? “Children are naturally happier when youre less stressed. If youre tired, cranky, and resentful because you are doing things for everyone besides yourself, what are you teaching your children about life?”

Q: How can I learn to say no?

A: Women are yes-people, because they worry about hurting or disappointing someone who matters to them. “Relationships are very important to women. We build the ties that our families, communities, and cultures couldnt survive without,” says Nanette Gartrell, MD, author of My Answer is No … If Thats OK With You: How Women Can Say No and (Still) Feel Good About It. “The last thing we want to do is disrupt a connection by saying no.”

But there is a way to be better prepared to say no, even in the most complicated circumstances: Make a list of your priorities and say yes only to the people and tasks on the list—dont waver; stick to the list. “That will give you the time and energy to say yes to the people who matter to you, including yourself,” Dr. Gartrell says.

Q: My boss BlackBerries me late at night and expects answers by morning. What can I do to keep her happy and keep my sanity?

A: As long as you reply to her emails by 9:30 a.m. (a reasonable time to respond after dropping the kids off or running to the gym), youre in fair-game territory, says Penelope Trunk, author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. “You have to set limits with your boss. After all, your boss doesnt own your life—you do,” she says. If youre a high achiever, your boss shouldnt flinch when you set limits. And if youre not the office MVP, consider that it may be because you dont set limits. “This moment of pushing back may seem like a career-limiting move, but it might actually open things up,” Trunk says. “Strong performers have bosses who respect their boundaries. You cant be that until you demand it.”