As moms, we've all been there — the moment we snap. After a long day, something triggers it — we step on a Lego or can't find a clean sippy cup, and suddenly it feels like we're losing it. Before you hide under the covers and cry, try changing gears with one of these rescue missions.

Fortunately for me, the motherhood path had been paved in my family well before I had kids. Between my sister and a nice handful of cousins who all had children before me, there were enough stories, advice and mistakes already made in my family to give What to Expect While You're Expecting a run for its money. At the least, I knew what I was getting into. Of particular note to me were the stories of parental coping — the way the moms in my family developed survival skills when, say, their children were slamming doors in their faces or greasing the kitchen tile with a stick of butter (true story). My cousin has a real humdinger of a survival story. With three girls spaced only four years apart, there were many times when her rubber band had been stretched well beyond snapping point. "One time, they were fighting so horribly, I actually took a box of chocolate Swiss Rolls into the bathroom and hid in the shower," she proudly recalls. "They came in there looking for me, calling 'Mom! Mom! Where are you?', but I didn't answer. I just ate my cakes and prayed they wouldn't find me."

One time, they were fighting so horribly, I actually took a box of chocolate Swiss Rolls into the bathroom and hid in the shower.

OK, so Rule #1 for surviving calamitous parenting moments is run and hide, preferably with chocolate cake. In all seriousness though, we need some go-to stress relief therapies. Parenting is hard, endless and though, of course, we all admit that the joys far outweigh the challenges, those challenges can stretch us pretty thin and bring out the worst in us.

So when the witching hour turns into witching hours, how do we make it through? Next time your kids are fighting and the house is a mess and you're this close to jumping in the van and driving to Mexico, try one of these sanity-saving strategies first.

Go outside

As cozy as your house may be, walls exist and that can internally make it feel like your stress has nowhere to go. Haul the kids outside (even if it's snowing!) for a walk around the block or a driveway trike & bike session, and you'll be surprised how quickly you feel energized. Fresh air and nature are good for the soul and can alter your perspective to see things more clearly and positively.

"I am Joan of Arc"

When I'm facing a tough day and nothing seems to be going right, I like to look at it as a challenge to be conquered. I take on a Joan of Arc attitude and face the day head on as if it's a contest to be won. And oh, I will win. With a shield of patience, I enter the war and step up my parenting game, flinging ingredients into the Crock-Pot for dinner, changing diapers with breakneck speed, calming tears with hugs and reading Stellaluna for the sixth time just because I can. Strangely, these days often turn out most productive and, dare I say, even fun.

The gratitude perspective

As cliché as it may sound, it works. When I'm feeling agitated and stressed from toys scattered everywhere, kids running through the house or a daughter who's demonstrating her independence with a little more force than I'd like, I try to flip my perspective and make note of how those same triggers can be gifts for which to be grateful. How wonderful it is that we can afford to buy our children toys, how thankful I am that my kids can move and walk freely, how much we celebrate our daughter's development and ability to express herself.

cup of tea

Escape and rehabilitate

You might need your spouse to take over the kids for this one, but sometimes you need to raise the white flag and claim your "me time." Grab a magazine and take a bath (lock the door!), go for a run, pour a cup of tea and read a book in the back bedroom or drive to your nearest coffee shop and write in your journal for an hour.

Give something up

That "Oh my God, I'm going to snap" feeling can be an important signal that there's too much on our plate. Sometimes those days call for giving something up. Instant stress relief can come from making an executive decision to order pizza instead of making dinner, skipping soccer practice or writing a note to the teacher that homework didn't get finished because your family needed a breather.

That's it, everybody dance!

My kids love this one and, I swear, sometimes they purposefully push my buttons to bring on a dance party. Next time you're frazzled and feeling like you're going to snap — stop, drop and dance. Call the kids to the kitchen, blare some upbeat tunes and demand that everybody bust a move. Your dance all-call will elicit laughter, remove tension and leave you with a clean slate to start the rest of your day over again.


Set the timer for quiet time

You're not the only one who needs quiet time. Although your kids may not realize they need it, sometimes "acting out" can be a signal that kids need some rest time. Try setting the timer for 30 minutes and asking that everyone spend quiet time in their bedroom. It shouldn't be a punishment but rather a nice retreat, and you can make your kids look forward to it by encouraging enjoyable activities such as coloring, reading books or doing puzzles.

And yes. If all else fails. Grab the Swiss Rolls. Head for the shower.

More from Kelle Hampton

A playlist for parenting
My budding naturalist
For the love of ballet