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Written by:  Odile Fredericks
Date: January 2, 2012

Are you ready for the difficult task at hand? I'm talking about returning to reality on a cold dark January morning. This week, after the delights and magic of the holidays, we'll be coaxing our kids to return to school, even as we head back to work and pick up our daily chores.

If you're looking to help your kids transition back to school, one trick is to get them into bed about 15 minutes earlier each night of the vacation time, so that by the time school day rolls around, they will be prepared to wake up. Quite frankly, I've heard talk of this feat but have never been able to pull it off with my kids. I'll be lucky if I can get them to bed early on the night before school starts.

I might, however, try fixing a special warm breakfast that they really like when temperatures plunge to the twenties this week. According to WebMD, adults need to eat breakfast each day to perform their best, but kids need it even more as their bodies and minds are developing. So, breakfast should be wholesome and nutritious, besides being something kids like to eat. And don't forget to eat breakfast yourself, especially if you've made a resolution to lose weight. (And who hasn't.) According to research posted on WebMD, skipping meals is strongly linked to the development of obesity.

As for picking up our daily chores, how can we motivate ourselves to tackle the task at hand with enthusiasm? If you're a young mom or dad, you may be feeling unproductive, hurried and exhausted caring for kids alone at home. The relentless demands of rearing young children can leave us drained of energy as we move from one task to the next, often isolated from adult conversation that could sustain us. Joining a social networking group, like TriangleMommies, can help you connect with other parents and get out to play. Carolina Parent's January article, Adjusting to the Parenting Time Warp also offers some insightful expert advice to help you find the right rhythm in parenting.

If you're heading back to work with no vacation in sight, it helps to count your blessings. Keeping a journal of those things you're grateful for just could increase your sense of well-being. And lifting your spirits could put your whole family in a better frame of mind. And here's a romantic tip based on research: Expressing gratitude on a daily basis to your spouse for what he or she does for you is an important tool to keep you close, acting as a booster shot to your relationship.

And it helps to have something fun to look forward to on the horizon. Plan a free outing this weekend with the whole family at the park. See our Things to do and Family Fun pages to find inexpensive weekly and daily calendar activities offered around the Triangle. Heading outdoors  is a wonderful mood-lifter. Visit our Family Favorites page to find Carolina Parents' readers' 2011 picks of their favorite Triangle places to move and be active, favorite spots for children's activities as well as best Triangle places to visit.



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