Having trouble finishing a thought because you are constantly being interrupted? Has your 3-year-old taken a shine to coloring your new sofa with permanent marker? Is the baby announcing that she needs to be changed ... again? Maybe hubby informed you that he has to work late and won't be home for dinner? In T-minus two minutes you're about to launch into a fit of epic proportions.

Having trouble finishing a thought because you are constantly being interrupted? Has your 3-year-old taken a shine to coloring your new sofa with permanent marker? Is the baby announcing that she needs to be changed ... again? Maybe hubby informed you that he has to work late and won't be home for dinner? In T-minus two minutes you're about to launch into a fit of epic proportions.

Despite how those sitcoms from the 1950s and '60s present the picture, motherhood isn't all happy bake sales and bridge clubs. Sometimes it seems like there's no getting ahead or making progress. Throw in work pressures or feelings of inadequacy, if you've chosen the stay-at-home-mother route instead of a career, and things may seem overwhelming.

That's just how Tate feels in The Book of Mom (Nautilus Press), by Taylor G. Wilshire. Tate's a stay-at-home mom who left the fast-paced business world when she became a mother. Things were rosy when the kids were first born, but over time Tate starts to feel like she's losing a bit of herself and turning into an automatron mother instead of being the unique woman she used to be. Through love and support, and a little therapy and self-help, Tate learns to find balance and happiness once again.

If you think you're on a collision course for a mommy meltdown, there are ways to put out the fire. Consider these strategies pulled from the pages of The Book of Mom.

You're #1: Few people pay attention to the safety drill when you board an airplane. But the flight attendants instruct you in the event of an emergency to place the oxygen mask over your face first before you assist your children. Why? Because without a healthy, conscious you, what good would you be to the others? The same concept applies at home. You need to put your wellbeing first. Allow adequate time to de-stress so you can be a better parent. Learn from Tate, set aside quiet time for meditation, reading, journaling, or simply taking a stroll to cool down.

Telepathy doesn't work: Speak up when you need help. Don't expect those around you to be mind readers. If you are feeling completely overwhelmed or just need a helping hand, ask for it. Your partner may want to lend assistance, but doesn't want to step on your toes. Let him and others know what they can do. Asking for help does not signal weakness. It actually indicates a strong woman who knows her limits and when she can use some help.

Neutralize stressful situations: Whenever possible, make attempts to avoid potential meltdown triggers. For example, when shopping or traveling with a young child, schedule it during times when he or she is well fed and content. Kids of all ages tend to be cranky when tired, so implement strict bed times so ample rest is achieved. If a stressful situation does rear its ugly head, simply removing yourself for a few moments can allow your head to clear and allow you to handle the situation.

There are many other lessons to help you as a mother within the The Book of Mom . Look for it at your favorite online book seller. Learn more about the book and author at www.bookofmom.net.

Story provided by Metro Newspaper Service.