I've been blessed with two little girls, ages 9 months and 22 months and life is a bit kooky. My husband and I both work and we are trying our best to raise a happy and healthy family. Here are a few tips that have made all the difference.

1. Find a role model

There are so many options of mentors: friend, neighbor, family member, online mentor. You need somewhere to vent and turn to for advice. Or just someone to chat to, who won’t think you’re weird for serving omelets for dinner after a hard day.

I often call my mom or mother in law “How did you do it?” I’m one of nine siblings. It’s always nice to hear a reassuring voice. If I have more specific questions, I’ll try to find someone who recently went through the same situation.

You’ll also want to get advice from experts, in your preferred format. Some places to turn to:

  • Parenting forums
  • Books
  • Parenting courses/or workshops, online or in person
  • Experts in your community

However you do it, try to be interactive. Whether you comment online, learn something with your husband (I do every night) or attend a parenting course, don’t be shy to ask and interact. We are all in this together.

2. Don’t be a martyr. Invest in yourself

Do something for yourself each day, each week, and each month. I recently took a writing course, my neighbor attended a retreat, and another neighbor took a cake decorating course. Do something you enjoy to rejuvenate and add a spark to your day. Remember: you can’t fill the cups with and empty pitcher.

You can even involve your children with your hobbies when it’s age appropriate. I read about a glassblower who has a studio with a window to her house so her children can watch as she works. My neighbor who decorates cakes lets her kids be involved. One already won a baking contest. The other decorated a professional graduation cap for my sister’s graduation. If you do it wisely, your family will be proud of you, and you’ll be better for it.

Also, take care of your health. We sometimes lie to ourselves and make excuses to ignore our needs. But you have an important reason: Your family needs you.

3. Create a list of shortcuts.

Your babysitter will cancel, dinner will burn, holiday season will not disappear, and neither will your family or work during trying times. Or you’re expecting a baby and trying to figure out how you’ll cope. What’s a wise parent to do?

Be prepared.

At a home organization class I took, the presenter advised us to create a list of shortcuts we could use in the upcoming season. Having the list already gives a calming effect. Some ideas:

  • Things I can outsource– to a family member, to a friend or a service. Learn to delegate. This may require letting go of perfectionism, but it’s worth it! I’ve order groceries, hosiery, and even cleaners to be delivered. There are inevitable mistakes, but it still saves me a lot of time!
  • Things I can ignore-When life gets hectic can you ignore the phone, the dirt, or the dishes? And instead take care of something more important, wash the floors less often, and use plastic. Doing this gives you permission to stay focused on the main things. I use this list before a holiday, before and after a baby, when I’m under the weather or any time I need a break.

4. Be satisfied with what you do.

I loved this article by Daphne Gray-Grant that explained why we can just be satisfied by doing things, even if they’re not perfect. I work full time, write, raise my two daughters, and of course always feel like I want to do more. I have more article ideas, I want to cook and bake more often, organize the clutter, and so much more. But I’m beginning to realize that I can be happy with doing less.

So no, my daughter did not a have a Pinterest worthy first birthday party. In fact, all she had was some cookie and cake!

Social media feeds us perfect families. Your friends marvelous vacation photos can make you feel frumpier than ever. Let go of that perfectionism. Your kids are adorable even if they don’t look like child models from Gap, your house can be clean without looking like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, and this article is okay even if I didn’t proofread it a fifth time.

5. Charge your marriage.

When we’re so focused on parenting, we often forget about our marriage. Yet a healthy stable marriage is the bedrock of growth for children. Don’t feel bad taking out time for yourself. Check out some date night ideas and get a babysitter. Take the five love languages quiz. Write a note to tell your spouse something you appreciate about him/her. Get a small treat or a meal to share. Treat yourself to a vacation together-even if it’s a staycation. Let your spouse sleep in and watch the kids. Surprise her by doing a chore or errand. Take a walk together. Pray together. Recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Make the time with your family count.

  • Eat family meals together-Family Dinner Project(doesn’t have to be dinner, try breakfast or lunch)
  • Make bedtime and enjoyable time. Sing Shma together, tell a story or try some fun shadows with a flashlight.
  • Make the time in the car count. Teens open up to conversation. Listen to an audio book, play games, sing, unplug and enjoy each other.
  • Enjoy family traditions-create your own. My daughter loves dancing with tatty after lighting the Chanukah candles, just like his father did with him.
  • Kiss and hug your kids often, especially when are acting out and need the extra love.

Your action plan:

  • Think about your day so far. What’s one thing you could outsource or ignore?
  • What time of the day can you make the minutes count?
  • How have you invested in yourself today?
  • Who can you talk to about parenting today?
  • Look at your to do list. Put an O for things you can outsource, and an I for things you can ignore.
  • Plan one date night, whether at home or not.
  • Plan one thing you will do for yourself this month. Will it be at the spa? Reading a new book? A shopping spree? A baking experience?
  • What is one tradition you will start or carry on next month? Next year?
  • Share and comment!