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The Most Important Appointment of Your Day

Do you have a stress-filled day of calling on clients, seeing them in your office, interviewing job candidates, or running casting calls? Do you look forward to heading home for peace and quiet without any more demands?

Before you go, consider treating this last appointment of the day as the most important one. Take a moment to prepare yourself for it as you prepare for the others. How would you like it to go? What do you need to do to prepare for it to go that way? What attitude on your part will guide it to where you'd like it to go? What is likely to be expected of you?

If it's always hectic, could you make a phone call earlier in the day that would reduce that feeling upon arrival? Or schedule a weekly lunch date with your spouse?

Is there a hand-off, with your spouse or children leaving as you arrive? Could it be made simpler with a calendar or a "things you should know" notebook or pocket-size video camera?

Would it help to meet your mate for drinks and dinner one night a week while a babysitter feeds the kids?

What about a special family tradition that makes your arrival an event? We kids always knew when payday was, because Dad would bring home Chuckles. Remember them? Five large, flat gumdrops in a cellophane pack? Licorice was always in the center, and I always traded mine to my brother for one of the other flavors. Lemon and orange were my favorites, but licorice was his.

When you know what you want, turn it into a pleasant game with your spouse and children. Buy yourself goofy slippers and a bubble pipe for your kids to bring you when they hear the theme song from My Three Sons or The Flintstones playing on your cell phone as you approach the door. Invite your husband to join you.

Or make it a daily ritual to have a 90-second kiss just inside the front door or to do yoga together in silence for 20 minutes right after coming home.

If you're usually too stressed for any of this, park your car two or three blocks from home and get in some walking before you reach the door.

Need to make a pickup at the daycare center or karate class on your way home? Get your kids memorizing poems or songs to practice on the way, while you clear your head. Or clear your head first, with a nightly stop at your favorite book or music store before you get them.

You can do a lot of damage in a few short minutes by ending your day annoyed to see your more important appointment of the day. You can say things you'll regret or miss an opportunity to be supportive or grateful or admiring.

Make your homecoming the most important appointment of your day.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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