Once upon a time, women had to choose between starting a family and pursuing career. With those days happily in the past, more and more mothers are struggling to find a balance between family, work, and socializing. It can be incredibly tough, but with a little effort, such a goal is more than achievable. Carving out some personal time, making to-do lists, and scaling back on a few activities are just a few of the ways many working moms keep a balanced schedule that puts stress on hold and keeps them happy.

1- Find Some ‘Me’ Time
With activities packed in from sun up until sun down, finding ‘me’ time can be difficult. If you frequently find yourself tense at the end of the day, carving out some time for yourself is well worth the effort. Even a cup of coffee in the morning before the rest of the house wakes up or a mug of soothing tea in the evening can help keep you centered and focused. Everyone needs a little time to unwind, even if it’s just thirty minutes. Taking some “me time” doesn’t have to mean not getting things done; try taking the family pet for a walk or playing some soothing music while you pay bills or prepare meals. If you can’t find thirty minutes together, take smaller breaks throughout the day.

2- Double Schedule Play Dates
Socializing can really take a hit if life gets too crazy, but hanging out with friends is a craving that can and should be satisfied. Spending time with friends is essential to a balanced lifestyle. The next time your children want to get together with their friends, see if other moms are available at the same time and schedule your own play date. If your kids play with theirs, you can kill two birds with one stone.

3- Make a List
To-do lists can really be helpful to moms with busy schedules. Not only do they help keep priorities clear, but they serve as reminders of what has yet to be completed. Jotting down the tasks for the day, and keeping a calendar for an easy at-a-glance view of what’s to come, keeps everyone on task and moving in the right direction. If you have too many tasks to keep track of on one list, try dividing them by category, like “Home”, “Work”, and “School”, and then organizing each list by order of importance.

4- Share the Load
Finding time for everything can be a challenge, especially when that “everything” involves shuttling kids to and from school and extracurricular activities. See if other parents in the area would be interested in setting up a carpool. Each parent can take a turn shuttling all the kids to a particular activity, saving the rest some valuable time.

5- Find Time for Romance
Most moms trying to balance work, home and play will be the first to say that there isn’t a lot of time left over. But keeping that romantic spark alive in your marriage can go a long way toward keeping you stress-free and happy. Set aside an hour each week after the kids go to sleep, or find a time every couple of weeks to go on a date and get out of the house to really focus on each other. Every parent deserves some grown-up time!

Keep in mind that everybody’s balance is a little different. Play around with schedules to find what works best for your household. The plan you settle on doesn’t have to be a perfect balance, just a balance that works for you.