"For some women, the hardest thing about going to work is coming home," write JoAnn Miller and Gloria Norris of a syndrome they dub The Reentry Frenzies. "When Mommy walks in that front door, it is a signal to the children to release the energy and passion they have been holding back.

"Three pairs of sticky hands grab at your purse for the present you promised to bring home, your oldest asks you if he can sleep at his friend's house and your youngest tries to tell you how the plumber had to come because the toilet flooded the nursery school."

Some mothers devote the first half-hour or so to their children -- answering questions, running in to see what they built with their blocks or getting down on the floor for a quick game.

Among other suggestions for easing the reentry frenzies:

Use travel time for companionship. By taking a child to school or day care (even if he's old enough to make the trip himself) you can talk more easily than at home, where there are distractions.

Be flexible about schedules. If necessary, rearrange an infant's nap so the baby is awake during your at-home hours.

Reserve at least part of the evening just to be with your children. Helping with homework, giving a bath and telling a bedtime story take on added significance for a working mother. Be available, for your sake as well as the children's.

Discourage phone calls or guests during the time you've set aside. Even take the phone off the hook.