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Five Tips to Surviving the Terrible 2s & Beyond!

By Julie Zeff

Most people who know me know that I’m not exactly a “baby person.” Don’t get me wrong: I have three kids – a 4-, a 6- and an 8-year-old whom I adore with all my heart and soul. But, saying that their 2-year-old birthdays were big days for me is an understatement.

terrible-two girlMy kids finally reaching the ripe old age of 2 meant more independence and communication, and that I was going to see their distinct and unique personalities start to shine through more brilliantly. I LOVED that! And, when my kids turned 2, there was also a sense of bracing myself – as if I were buckling in for the biggest, wildest roller coaster of my life. I was embarking on the terrible 2s. Ahhhhhhh! (Imagine my screaming this as I’m rushing down a roller-coaster drop.)

With increased independence, communication and personality come moments that can challenge even the most Zen of moms (which I am NOT, btw). And they can sometimes leave us feeling like the worst moms in the world! I remember those impossible moments when my 2-year-old didn’t want to get dressed or put on his shoes. I remember when my 2-year-old didn’t want to eat anything but Cheerios and avocado for days on end – regardless of how many hours I spent preparing gourmet meals.

I remember when my 2-year-old never wanted to put on a jacket, no matter how cold it was outside! Oh, and brushing teeth – she wanted to do it. No, she wanted ME to do it. No, wait! SHE wanted to do it by herself! I could never get it right. I remember being exhausted because my 2-year-old, finally in a big-girl bed, was trying out her new freedom, and trying my patience, by staying up as late as my husband and I. Oh, and what about coloring on the wall? Kids really do do that – even after telling them 1,001 times that “We color only on paper!”

I can (usually) reason with my kids more now that they are a bit older. And, yes, thankfully, we all have more tools. Yet, sometimes intense feelings of being overwhelmed are still very palpable during, and even after, challenging moments. So, whether your kids are 2 or 22, here are a few simple actions that can help you to stay calm and grounded in the midst of chaos. Most importantly, they can help you to see and remember what an amazing, beautiful, perfectly imperfect mom you are!terrible-twos2-300x300

  1. Breathe – Stop what you are doing and take a deep breath, or two or three, to help you calm down, and to feel your center and truth – for even a second or two. A breath will interrupt your first impulsive response and can slow down the barrage of ogres (negative thoughts or beliefs) flowing your way.
  2. Gratitude – What are the things you are grateful for in the moment? Gratitude is a powerful perspective. Maybe you are grateful that your child didn’t use permanent marker on the wall. Or, grateful that at least your child is eating something – even if it is just Cheerios. This is a quick way to shift your reactive energy in the moment. And, every night before you go to bed, find three ways that you parented during the day that you are grateful for. A gratitude practice will take you a long, long way.
  3. Forgive – When something does go amiss … you lose it, they lose it. Forgive yourself and them. Remember they — and you — are human; and life is messy, not perfect! No need to sit in shame. Lovingly and wholeheartedly, forgive.
  4. Visualize – Learn from the experiences that didn’t go as you’d hoped. Visualize the way you want them to go and what you can do differently next time. Rewrite the scene just as you most desire. Feel it in your body, breathe, and see it in your mind’s eye. You can role play with your spouse, a friend, or even your children.
  5. You are not alone! – Remember you are not alone. All moms out there have challenging moments. Be open, real and vulnerable. Share with others so you don’t cultivate shame, and you will see that it is possible to change. Share frustrations and tips with each other. Each of us has wisdom to share.

What helps you to stay grounded and calm during trying moments with your kids? Do share. We are all growing and changing together!

Peace and Love,


Julie Zeff is a Life Coach for busy and working moms; Author of Vivid Living for Busy Moms: Coach Yourself to an Extraordinary Life; and a trained Forest yoga instructor building strength and flexibility with emotional and spiritual intelligence. Request her FREE report – Top 10 Tips to Vivid Living or receive her FREE Monthly Coaching Tidbits and 5 Anytime, Anywhere Breathing Tips by visiting: http://www.vividliving.net. Download a FREE peek of her book, Vivid Living For Busy Moms here: http://vividliving.net/julies-book

About Julie Zeff

Julie is a certified life coach, yoga instructor, author, and speaker who believes that absolutely everyone can live a vivid and extraordinary life. Her goal is to spread this belief and the tools to actually live it around the globe. Julie has worked for over 14 years in the personal growth and mental health fields. She brings the body (and often specifically yoga) into the coaching work that she does and brings life coaching into the yoga that she teaches. Julie teaches her clients to access the wisdom of their body and mind to help them transform their lives. Her professional mind-body journey began in 1998 when she worked as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Massage Therapist. She persistently tried to find a way to combine the two. But, it wasn’t until 2002 when she found Life Coaching (CTI, Certified Professional Co-Active Coach – CPCC) and Forrest Yoga (yoga teacher training) that there was a natural and passionate union that transformed her life and career forever. As a busy working mom with three children herself, she understands the challenges of trying to find that sweet spot in a busy world of work and family. She uses her own coaching tools each and every day to help her live a vivid and extraordinary life she loves! Whether through life coaching over the phone, or in a yoga class on a mat, Julie helps her clients tap into the innate truth and wisdom of their body and mind. They learn to make decisions with clarity and confidence. She guides them to courageously shed limiting patterns and beliefs. She helps her clients envision, design, and live their own unique, vivid, and extraordinary life. Julie was born and raised in a suburb of Chicago and now lives with her husband and three children in Atlanta, Georgia.

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