You’ve seen her in the corner coffee shop, soccer practice and the grocery store. Hair awry, face flushed, eyeliner smudged beneath wary, bloodshot eyes. Her kids are going through the phase. “They were angels last week, angels,” she tells you, clutching her Tim Hortons for dear life, “but now they’re out of control – I’m losing my mind.” You can relate, you tell her. You know what it’s like. You know full well that this could be you at the flip of a nightlight switch. Where did everything go wrong? And how to get your life back? Here are 5 tips for nipping these phases in the bud and getting your sanity back!

1. Breathe. No matter how old your kids are, it’s always appropriate for mom to take a time out. This ensures that your own emotions and actions don’t exacerbate an already out-of-control situation. To calm the nerves, and quiet the mind, yoga experts recommend simply becoming aware of your breath, and, then, making your exhalation longer than your inhalation (counting helps). Hopefully, the kids won’t be banging on the door!

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2. Positive reinforcement. Often kids are out of control because they want attention. In their better moments, be sure to reward them with praise, maybe take them to the movies or somewhere fabulous (that’s totally fun for you, too, of course). Forget toys, candy or a raise in allowance, or you risk adding fuel to the fire – not least because you deplete yourself even more.

3. It’s all about boundaries. You’ve heard this one before, but it is beyond key. Kids get out of control because they’re testing their boundaries. Figure out what their (and your) limits are in any given situation, write them down if it helps, and be sure to let your kids know. Nothing is too obvious.

4. The D word. Discipline needs to be consistent, and it doesn’t have to be rocket science. Gather your techniques: warnings, firm voice, your trusty countdown (1…2…3), and time-outs that enable your child to breathe, cool off and prepare to apologize – at which point, see #2.

5. Let it go. It’s hard not to take things personally, but it’s essential when you’re dealing with out-of-control kids. When you feel your shoulders starting to slouch and your eyes welling up, just use this wise mantra: “It’s not about me.” And know that this, too, shall pass. Then? Remind yourself that you’re doing your best – and that your best will be different every day.

Now that you have your take-your-life-back toolkit, make sure your spouse is on board, reapply that eyeliner, and do something nice for yourself. Many frazzled moms are so focused on others that they’ve simply neglected to care for themselves. Grab a babysitter: the latest chick flick and that way-overdue facial are calling!

Information is current as of the original date of publication.

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