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Mommy De-Stressors

After Eli started hurling things off his high chair at startling speeds, I bought a dish set made of some special indestructible material. Needless to say, the cup broke within minutes, and the bowl shattered a day later. Sure, I was happy that Eli was enjoying his newfound skills. But it seemed like everything he learned was being used to make me crazy. Sound familiar? Here's how to stay calm:

Squeeze in "me" time. A mom who's worn out has a lot less to give, so don't martyr yourself. Even if it's just getting a shower, or 15 minutes to read and exercise each day, give yourself a break.

See the big picture. Have you gone back to work? Are you arguing with your partner? This kind of stress can affect your relationship with your baby. Remind yourself that all babies pull hair, smear food, spit up, and throw dishes.

Chill out. You can't control everything. Did your baby find an ancient pea lodged in his high chair and  -- using excellent pincer grasp  -- manage to extract it and eat it? Let it go. (Besides, he needs contact with germs to help develop immunities.) Other things  -- a missed nap, an afternoon watching TV, a not-so-nutritious dinner  -- won't harm him, either, if they only happen once in a while.

Losing your cool a few times isn't so bad. If, however, you think that your baby is more difficult than most, you find yourself yelling at him regularly, or you constantly feel like you're not up to the challenge of parenting, talk to your pediatrician.