From "Busy But Balanced" (St. Martin's Press). Used with permission.

The fresh new year is just the time to dive in and begin balancing your life. Start by reevaluating family priorities and developing a plan to honor those choices. Consciously making decisions about how you connect with those you love is the first and vital step to creating more harmony in your life. Your relationships at home can sustain and ground you and your children. What follows are a few ideas for approaching family life from a new perspective:

1. Hang up a new calendar and pick one day a month as Family Day. Mark each of them on your calendar and begin planning now for all twelve magical days.

2. Begin the new year with less clutter. Go through your closets and give away clothing your have used in a year or more. Ask you kids to do the same-toys, books, and tapes can all be passed along to a shelter for homeless families.

3. Remain on the lookout for resources to support your children's dreams. Keep a folder handy for each child that you fill with information about his or her interests-articles, upcoming classes, book titles.

4. Designate the refrigerator as the "heart of the home" and post your prayer requests, words for the day, pictures of your friends and family, and other meaningful reminders of all you and your family hold dear.

5. Call up that feeling of awe you had when your child was born. This will help you begin the habit of coming from the heart when you speak to your son or daughter.

6. Create a visual image of what you would like your family life to be like in the upcoming year. Find pictures of dream vacations, an organized, beautiful home, festive dinners, symbols of harmony, and glue them on a poster board with a photo of your family in the center. Place it in a prominent spot and enjoy visualizing together.

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