Christina Applegate: ‘I Barely Survived’ the Terrible Twos

07/31/2015 at 08:00 PM ET

Christina Applegate terrible twos Vacation
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Like most moms, Christina Applegate discovered that getting through the terrible twos is no easy feat.

“I barely survived,” Applegate tells PEOPLE, admitting that even though her daughter Sadie Grace is now 4½ years old, things haven’t gotten much easier.

“The fours are pretty gnarls too. She is pushing so many boundaries right now. I say, ‘Please put that down. Please put that down. Please put that down.’ It’s crazy man.”

But she is also enjoying some of the perks that come with having a little girl — like being able to take her to lunch and spend quality girl time together.

“My favorite time is just when it’s the two of us and we are having lunch and talking,” shares Applegate.

She also savors their Sunday morning ritual, which involves her and husband Martyn LeNoble taking Sadie to ballet class followed by a family brunch.

Applegate, 43, is currently starring in the comedy Vacation, but says she has definitely scaled back her workload since becoming a mom. “I won’t take on a project unless the family can make the decision that it is worth the sacrifice of me not seeing Sadie all day long and uprooting everyone if it’s on location,” she explains.

She also makes sure to take time off once a project is completed.

“After I did Anchorman 2, I asked for a year and a half off, which meant they weren’t allowed to call me about anything. And they didn’t,” she says. “I just mom’d it up.”

For more from Christina Applegate and her life as a mom, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

— Mia McNiece

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megan on

“I say, ‘Please put that down. Please put that down. Please put that down.’ It’s crazy man.”

If she’d stop saying “please” and *tell* the kid to knock it off or face consequences, maybe the kid would behave

Pam on

I’m going through them now and they are horrible! My son is currently obsessed with hitting, throwing stuff, poking eyeballs and etc. It’s exhausting. He thinks the word no is hilarious.

Pam on

@megan lol! A 2 year old doesn’t care about consequences. You can tell them not do something but they’ll just do it and laugh.

Sigourney on

It just depends on the kid. Some are easy; some are not. They usually turn out okay in the end. Sometimes having just one kid is enough.

guest on

Sigourney, I have one child and I agree 100%.

vanessavv5bbs on

Shes so pretty

Janine on

I thought the 3’s were terrible. My boy HATED having his hand held and would bolt whenever we were out in public. I didn’t think we would make it.

Truvi on

My 26 year old son will just wander off. He is not scared to just take off from me, climb everything, yell around, etc. I’ve been told threes are worse.

Truvi on

LOL I meant 26 month old! Geez my 26 year old son better not still be living with me!

Sarah on

I have 1 yr old and 2 yr old sons. I was just thinking the other day how the ‘terrible twos’ havent been had for me at all. The 1 yr old is more exhausting as he is always getting into things. By 2 you can leave them for a few minutes to go to the washroom and not worry they are getting into things. I can talk to him and he understands a little more. Yes he has some tantrums when he obviosly cannot control his emotions but I just stare at him calmly and he seems to snap out of it. He actually went to hit me today as i’ took something from him, and he stopped himself. Perhaps he will be awful at 3!! or perhaps I got lucky ❤ Im pretty calm most of the time with both boys, I do think how you are around them rubs off.

LOL on

Love her. Such a cool, down to earth person. And hilarious in Vacation!!

Sally on

Um love her she is so honest lol

Ella on

Natural consequences, Christina. If ‘please put that down’ doesn’t work three times, it’s not likely to work on the fourth. Opt for something like ‘I’ve asked you to put that down three times now. I’ll wait until you’re ready to put it down. Take your time, but the longer you choose not to pay attention, the less time we will have at the park.
Take the begging out of it. Take the power struggle out of it. Take punishment out of the equation. Be clear and as neutral as possible: A will lead to B because of XYZ. When the kid then says it’s not fair, you explain that everything has consequences, you work together with the kid to figure out a better way to handle the situation next time, and you tell them that you know they’re going to try to make a better choice next time.

Crystal on

The perks of having a little girl- taking her to lunch and spending quality time? What do you think you do with little boys?

Sara on

One probably think its easy, another probably think its hard, really depending the person.

cb on

at least she is honest about how challenging it can be. most celebrities just say how wonderful their kids are, no terrible twos or challenges, etc. of course if you have a full time nanny that deals with the hard stuff it is always easy and wonderful !