DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – From work to kids to personal health, many parents have a lot on their plates and that stress can pile up. But experts say that stressed parents could be doing damage to their children.

Shea Sanchez and Jamie Fowler are friends, but they do not get much time to relax. Sanchez shared her routine. “Get ready,” she explained, “get my daughter ready, get them to school, get home, take her to soccer practice or to gymnastics, whatever else I have to do, and go to bed.”

Fowler described her day in much the same way. “Getting two little girls ready for school as fast as we possibly can and heading 25 minutes to work, then to come home and do more stuff with them,” she said.

A little stress is normal in life, but parents who are too stressed all of the time can be hurting their children. “Most parents, I don’t think, realize how much it affects children’s physiology,” said David Code, the author of “Kids Pick Up on Eveything.”

His book’s title is especially true when it comes to stress. “Today’s parents are so worried about toxins and pollutants in food or in the environment. I think the biggest toxin, by far, is stress,” Code said.

But there is a surprising solution. Instead of focusing attention on the kids, Code said, parents should take more time for themselves. Head out on a date with your partner. Socialize some more. Even just stepping out of the front door for a couple minutes can make a world of difference. “Exercise with your spouse,” Code suggested. “We don’t realize that we’re socializing with our spouse and that relationship, that marriage relationship, is key to your child’s well-being.”

Take time to hang out with friends, Code said. “Don’t come home from work and play with your child,” the author added. “Come home from work, call up your best friend and have her come over. She can bring her kid. You two have a glass of wine and talk about the day. The two kids are playing together. They can also see the great example that you’re setting in socializing, so they pick up social skills.”

Fowler and Sanchez followed this advice. “They’re social, then we get to enjoy our social time as well,” said Fowler.

Code offered some other tips for stressed out parents. Do not eat lunch at your desk. Get away from the office and eat with other people. Also, try to take one day each week where you do not have your eyes glued to a computer or smartphone.

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