There is a happy medium between child-centered and self-centered,"" the journalist/mother authors aver--and this is a moderately successful attempt to reduce the chaos to manageable proportions. Drawing on their own experience, 250 questionnaire responses, and the opinions of experts in such fields as time and money management, Plutzik and Laghi do come up with some highly pragmatic tips. On a long motor trip with a small child, for instance, take along a tape of favorite stories, songs, etc. (Grandma might make a welcoming tape, if you're going to visit her.) Don't rely on just one sitter or daycare facility, have a backup plan in case of emergencies, illness, or personnel changes. In the area of career vs. family conflict, aim for balance and compromise. (Decide on a ""minimum level of achievement"" at work and adjust it to family schedules; concentrate on the components of your job that contribute most directly to success.) On other topics--sex, nutrition and exercise, special problems (preemies, colicky babies)--the authors have less that's especially apropos to offer. They're strong advocates, however, of parent support groups (Laghi was one of the organizers of a Brooklyn Heights group); and many such are listed. Useful if rather mundane.