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Letter from the Editor February 2010

Jenna Hammond

Remember when candy hearts and courage were all it took to pack a romantic punch on Valentine's Day? The right show of affection during the holiday could melt a crush's heart, and all the fun of being a young fool in love kept romantic escapades exciting well into adulthood. But with the demands of the adult world and the extreme energy consumed while parenting, the love life of grown-ups tends to suffer. Take heart: In honor of Valentine's Day this month, I'll highlight a few good reads in the February issue to keep things coming up roses for you and your beloved all year long.

Freelance writer Jan Udlock might face her fair share of commitments and conflicts in raising five children. However, her article "Take the Time" reveals how Udlock fits in quality alone time with her husband. Read the piece to discover how you and your better half could arrange a quick yet meaningful getaway together, even if it means a quiet dinner out on the town while your kids are at home with a sitter. Along with coaching parents on planning a romantic escapeŚ after all, this Valentine's Day falls on a SundayŚ the article highlights why psychologists, relationship experts and experienced parents, like Udlock, recognize that planned quality moments shared among spouses benefit the entire family. After all, how can parents raise happy kids if they're malcontent and disconnected as spouses, or as single parents exploring relationships? Alone time for adults is crucial. Repeat this as you plan a getaway this month.

And parents definitely shouldn't sleep on the issue of instituting couple time if the clan is sharing the family bed. Valerie Levine, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Break the Co-Sleeping Habit (Adams Media), counsels parents on enforcing healthy sleeping routines in her article "The Co-Sleeping Habit." While some families share a bed because of cultural beliefs, financial constraints or personal convictions, studies illustrate that most parents allow children to sleep in a bed with parents to appease kids who complain or protest. But Levine's article explains why acquiescing to children's late-night demands of co-sleeping breeds children's dependence on parents and wreaks havoc on parents' relationships. Flip to the article to establish smart bedtime boundaries from the start as well as to reclaim your bedroom if you've succumbed to co-sleeping in order to placate your children. When sound sleep, privacy and better coping mechanisms result, the whole family will likely thank you in their own ways.

And for the perfect time to reconnect as an entire family, look to dinner time. Increasing studies prove that children who have regular family dinners have better test scores, healthier lifestyles, stronger relationships and a lower incidence of drug and alcohol use and promiscuous behavior than children who don't get the opportunity to eat with their parents on most nights. For further wisdom about the importance of family mealtime, along with tips from culinary superstars like Mario Batali and Sandra Lee on how to make consistent family dinners a reality in your home, check out my article "Food and Family." I hope it inspires heartwarming dinners on any occasion.

Putting it all together, perhaps this issue will help you have a wonderful lifetime filled with family dinners, nighttime bliss, healthy and happy children and romantic mommy and daddy moments. And when things get utterly crazy and all else fails, you can always sweeten the deal by serving candy hearts for dessert.

Enjoy the issue.

Jenna Hammond