9 Ways To Cope When Your Kids Are On Your Last Nerve

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 

Children are truly a gift. They give our lives meaning, bestow upon us a true purpose, and help reveal our astounding capacity for love.

Unfortunately, they can also be gigantic assholes.

Like any other human being, kids have mood swings and grumpy days. The catch is, they haven’t yet learned how to cope without making total jerks of themselves, which leads to grocery store meltdowns, infuriating levels of sassiness, and general douchebaggery that makes even the most loving parents consider dropping their kids off on the nearest corner and speeding off while yelling, “Good luck, sucka!”

And even when they’re not in a bad mood, kids’ curiosity, imagination, and inability to foresee consequences lead them to play games like “barber shop with real scissors” and “let’s poop in the oven of our play kitchen.”

Basically, it doesn’t matter how calm you normally are. Unless you possess the patience of a saint, nobody can piss you off faster than your kids. And when you’re kinda short-tempered to begin with, that’s a terrible combination. You end up losing your shit and then feeling like the biggest dickwad that ever, uh, dickwadded.

Remember that feeling the next time you’re on the verge of going all Mommie Dearest, and try these helpful suggestions instead.

1. Take care of your own needs.

Kids aren’t usually cranky and irrational without a reason. Maybe they’re hungry or skipped their nap. But the same goes for parents, so before you flip your lid, make sure there’s not an underlying reason contributing to your flaring temper. Maybe you have an uncomfortable wedgie or a stabby underwire. Maybe you haven’t had a carb in three days, and everything that isn’t bread makes you angry. Maybe Netflix went down just as you were trying to watch Schitt’s Creek. Whatever it is, make sure you’re taken care of. It makes it easier to take care of everybody else, especially when they’re being brats.

2. Put yourself in time-out.

Time-out is a concept usually reserved for the very young, but ain’t nothin’ wrong with removing yourself from a quickly escalating situation until you calm down. It’s the adult thing to do. Find a locking door, and close yourself in for a few minutes. Try to tune out the inevitable knocking.

3. Dip into your stash.

While you’re in your self-imposed time-out, break out the good stuff. That’s right, your hidden stash of chocolate. Revel in the delight that comes from knowing the kids aren’t getting any. Ha ha ha!

4. Flip them off behind their backs.

Remember when you were a kid, and you used to stick your tongue out at your mom behind your closed door (because you didn’t dare do that shit to her face)? Same concept, only now you’re the parent. Wait until their backs are turned, then flip them an impassioned bird. Mature? No. Satisfying? Abso-freakin’-lutely.

5. Pretend they’re someone else’s kids.

When your kid has a friend over who acts less than desirable, you can’t really raise your voice at them — no matter how much you wish otherwise. All you can do is issue a calm but stern warning to stop being an asshat immediately (I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea). So if your own kids are treading on thin ice and you feel your anger bubbling up to the surface, practice some internal role-playing. Pretend they’re just visiting, and you can’t yell at them, and then fantasize wildly about sending them home to their real parents.

6. Stay off Facebook.

If you feel disillusioned by your children’s ill behavior, do not — I repeat, do not — get on Facebook. Because it’s basically a land where everyone’s kids are better than yours. It’s not an ideal time to read a boastful post about how Betty Jean’s daughter won some national spelling bee when you’ve just spent the past hour removing gum from the dog’s fur.

7. Remind yourself of the times they’re not assholes.

Just as important as the hidden stash of chocolate is having a box of positive memories to refer to when you’ve had it up to here with your offspring. Print out your sweetest photos, save the adorable handwritten notes, document the precious moments — whatever gives you that heart-melting “maybe I should have another baby” feeling (except, don’t). Pull out those memories whenever duct tape is starting to seem like a plausible option.

8. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Next time someone is in the throes of a tantrum, astonish it right out of them by falling on the floor and outdoing them at their own game. You’re frustrated too, so you might as well express it the way they do! I mean, unless you’re at Target or something. You don’t need the cops involved.

9. Take solace in the fact that someday they’ll know how it feels.

How many times did you hear your own mom say, “I hope you have one just like you!” Well, you did. During their worst moments, your children are karmically rewarding you for all the crap you put your own parents through. And someday when they’re grown, you’ll have the last laugh as they come to you and wail, “I can’t handle these kids!” When that day comes, just hand them a box of good chocolate and say, “Ha ha ha!”

… But only on the inside.

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