A parent's work is never done. Even when children are in bed, or the babysitter has everything covered on date night, you're still on call 24/7. If you are fortunate enough to have at least a few days to be (somewhat) still in the next couple of weeks, try to let up a bit on the same old routine for the family (and yourself) and find a few ways to relax and re-charge for 2012.

1. Don't Start on New Projects

That is what new year's resolutions are for.

2. Avoid the To-Do List

You'll still have to feed your children and see they get adequate sleep, but if priorities like travel plans are made and gifts are wrapped, let up on tasks that aren't really important. If you find yourself with extra time, see #1.

3. Snuggle Up With Your Spouse for a Date Night — At Home

No arranging childcare and paying for a babysitter, no making plans or driving out on a cold night. Put the kids down a little early, make a snack you both love, and enjoy talking, watching a movie, or playing a game of cards to help reconnect and enjoy one another's company.

4. Lower Your Expectations

The house doesn't have to be picture-perfect just because a holiday is approaching. Take 20 minutes to clean up clutter spots each day, and have children pick up their own stuff. Leave dusting and deep cleaning for January.

5. Laugh

Go through old family photos, or search out those funny clips on YouTube you've been wanting to share with others. Laughter is a great way to de-stress and break holiday anxiety and tension.

6. Read

No, the newspaper and the work file you brought home don't count. A novel, an ebook, a collection of essays: the stuff that keeps your spirits high and your body relaxed. If you need something quick and laugh-out-loud funny, try some of the Suburban Haiku ebooks by Peyton Price, and revel in the everyday hilarious lives parents live. You'll probably spot some of your own life in her writing — giving you permission to laugh at yourself (and accomplishing #6 and #7 at the same time).

7. Go for a Walk

It may be cold, but that's what mittens, hats, and scarves are for. Bundle up, layer up, and get your adrenaline going and endorphins flowing with a brisk walk down your lane, country road, or neighborhood street.

8. Give Children Some New Entertainment (While You Sit for a Bit)

Make sure they're reading and taking walks too, but they can they can get a nice education while enjoying the musical sounds of The Tuneables, an interactive DVD/CD set that teaches children the "ABC's of music at a critical time in a child's development." Grab this as the perfect, last-minute stocking stuffer. Chances are, children will be marching to the beat of a new drummer in no time, while learning musical foundations and having a grand old time.

Thanks to parents and Squad writers Sharon Rowley, Kelli Robinson, Alyssa Chirco, and Nancy Flanders for their input and advice to help families chill out as 2011 draws to a close.

Full disclosure for the FCC: I received the e-book, Suburban Haiku: Christmas Special by Peyton Price to read. It made me laugh and helped me de-stress from my day, so much so that I felt I had to let our readers know about her work.