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I with I could say I’m a patient mom. But, unfortunately, my temper and me don’t always agree about this.
Writing this post brought me to tears. Reading through articles, posts and discussions online, of moms who feel guilty. A reflection of my own guilty feelings.
I remember the day I made my son cry
I don’t remember what caused my anger, what he had done or said. It was in one of those periods that kids follow you around everywhere. A clingy period. I snapped at him, and his face fell, his mouth went all shaky. I saw him starting to cry at my rejection as he turned to go to his room. My heart broke. As I sit here writing this, I still cry.
I vowed I would never be like that again. And I don’t think I’ve ever been as uncontrollably annoyed with him since then. But I can’t say I’ve been a perfectly patient mom either.
Tips to becoming a more patient mom
Like I said, a reflection of my own guilty feelings. I phrase it that way deliberately: we feel guilty. We ARE NOT guilty. However, life is a journey of improvement and it’s no different in our role as a mom. So I want to give some ideas and tips on how to deal with anger, irritation and impatience. Let’s start our journey to becoming more patient moms together!
Related: How to survive the terrible twos
You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to love them.
Let’s start with this one, alright. Doing my research on this topic, I was surprised, but also encouraged and soothed by how many moms struggle with this. That may sound strange, but let me put it in context. Of all the children being raised, many by impatient moms, how many turn out damaged because their moms weren’t always patient? Exactly. How to raise children has always been difficult and the cause of many discussions, but through the ages kids have grown up anyway and tend to turn out alright.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t even try! Not at all, being an angry, impatient mom all the time can do serious damage to children. Kids need to be loved, more than they need anything else. Focus on loving them, try to be a patient mom, but forgive yourself for getting impatient from time to time.
Think of yourself as a human being
Yes, I’m serious. You’re not supermom, I’m not supermom, and frankly, I don’t want to get into a phone booth to change into some silly outfit to become supermom. I’m a human being and there are many facets to my personality. One of those facets is being a mother. Another is being the kind of person who needs space to herself.
It means I’m fallible. However much I may regret getting angry, or annoyed, and however much I want to be a patient mom. It happens anyway and sometimes I just can’t stop it. But if I accept myself as a human being, I can let go of it. Instead of walking around all day with my guilt under my arm, getting ever increasingly irritated.
If you accept that you’re human, and accept your irritation, then you can move past it.
Make time for play
This only dawned on my slowly. It took some time to click, you could say.
Of course, if you play with the kids they stop acting out to grab your attention. Though, with my little adventurers, they’ll find something they are not supposed to do anyway. So I’m not sure if it helps, but…
When we play with our kids, we genuinely are in the moment. It makes it easier for us to see things as kids see them. For them, everything can be gamified, if you just take the time to play and stop taking things too seriously. Really, it’s not a bad way of looking at things at all. Regular play (with or without kids) makes you a more relaxed person overall, which helps to stay patient and calm.
Additionally, play deepens the bond between you and the kids on an almost continuous basis. Which in turn increases your patience when you need it.
Quick wee side note: Because I know how hard it can be to come up with fun games each time, I’ve created a 7-day challenge for parents of toddlers and preschoolers. This is a great way to get started if you’ve fallen out of the habit of playing with your kids, or to learn about fresh ideas and activities.
Each day for 1 week, you will receive an e-mail with an activity that you can do with your kids. Join the newsletter and start your 7 days of play today!
Try to prevent frustrating situations
If we need to be somewhere on time, I usually plan a ridiculous amount of time to get there. Why? Because I know the kids will be much slower than I want them to be. Here’s my patient mom trick: take the time you think you’ll need to be on time. Now multiply by two. That is the time you really need to be punctual with kids. Trust me.
I often just stop. Literally, I stop. I don’t walk, I don’t talk and I try not to think too much. For a few moments, I just breath. I give myself time to calm down. It may not be the most smooth method of keeping things in order, but it gives me the space I need to calm down and regain control over my temper.
I use this method (if you want to call it that) with my kids as well. When they’re both pulling on the same teddy, or they both want the same toys. First, I just stop everything and so do they. They stop pulling and they stop shouting. They can still both hold the toy, but they can’t do anything with it.
I may have to repeat a couple of times that we’re going to stop. But if you hang in there, you’ll find that it’s really powerful. Stopping is very simple, it doesn’t require anything. It doesn’t even require you to fix things. It just means that for the moment you don’t do anything.
This in turn, creates the calm and space you need to re-organize your thoughts and plot a path out of the chaos. Or, alternatively, to decide the chaos is just fine and doesn’t matter in the grander scheme of things 😉
Slow down, we’re not trying to hit a target
This is something I tell myself sooo often! We’re so used to getting things done on a schedule, meeting deadlines. But family life isn’t dictated by a schedule. We can use a schedule to structure the day and help us stay sane, but it’s not as if you don’t get your bonus if you don’t meet the target.
If the kids are in bed five minutes late, does it matter?
If they don’t finish every single bite of their meal, does it matter?
If they walk a bit slowly, and it takes you longer to get to the supermarket, does it matter?
Of course, the answer is no, it doesn’t. I find that it helps me to remind myself of this. Regularly. It’s becoming my mantra: Slow down, it’s not a target. Slow down, I’m a patient mom.
Have high expectations, but do stay realistic
Ever caught yourself thinking, these kids can’t do anything by themselves!!? Yeah, me too.
Sometimes I just have to remind themselves, that in fact, they’re kids and there’s lots of stuff they can’t do themselves.
Just the other day, I noticed my husband handing our 2-year old a big-boy cup of milk, with the instructions to walk carefully… Right, all the way from the kitchen back to the living room. And what do you think would have happened if our little toddler had spilled? Exactly, angry daddy (see, it’s not just us moms 😉 ). I’m not usually a fan of intervening in my husband’s parenting, but in this case I did whisper something into his ear.
Stay realistic about what children can and cannot do. They’ll fail at things.
You have two options, either you allow them the opportunity to fail and clean up the mess, or you do it yourself. The first is probably better parenting, but needs expectations to match. My expectations should be that at some point my sons learn to carry a cup of milk into the living room without spilling. For today, my expectations should be that this might go wrong.
Allot some time to yourself
I like to have a calm start in the morning, and a wind-down in the evening. Even with the kids around in the morning, they know that mom’s in the kitchen preparing food and that after that I want to drink some coffee. This are not times when mommy plays.
Related: How to start a gratitude journal
Install a routine for the day
Routines might remind you of time with an actual infant, but you can still use them, in a simpler version, when the kids are older. Usually, my morning routine is followed by some play time. Remember that you can make suggestions on which game to play. After that, I usually do a household chore. The kids can either play by themselves, or they can help me.
This usually brings us to lunch-time. In the afternoon the youngest sleeps first, while I might do some big boy activities with the oldest. When the youngest wakes up, they play together, usually outside.
You see, it’s not a very complicated routine and there aren’t really any set times for activities. Though they could be added. The point is, I have a structure to hold onto to help me be a patient mom, and they have clarity about when to expect mom to play with them.
If I notice that I have to get angry a lot during the day, one of the first things I ask myself is how consistent have I been? Staying consistent is one of the most difficult things to do. Nobody is completely consistent all of the time. Over the weeks, consistency tends to slip; it’s just not how we’d usually treat people. The issue with kids, of course, is that they really need that consistency.
To help yourself become a more patient mom, take hold of the reigns again for a week or so, and see what the results are. Aim to get the rules firmly in the back of your own mind as well as that of your kids. And try to get back into the habit of being completely consistent.
Meditate, pray, be grateful
In short, look after your mental and spiritual health. Whether your an extravert or an introvert, at some point we all need time to reflect and heal.
This is not an instant solution, it will take time before you really start to experience the results. But if you take some self-care time on a daily basis, even if it’s just fifteen minutes, you will notice the difference after a few weeks. You’ll become calmer overall, and your temper will cool down a bit.
As for being a patient mom…
Back to that day I made my son cry. It was when I realized that I wasn’t just a little stressed, I realized I had a burnout and needed to do something about it. I realized that being angry all the time and on the verge of tears all the time was not normal.
I followed my son into his room and we cried together. He was angry with me and I told him he was right to be angry. We hugged and kissed and sat together for a while.
I’m still his favorite mom. Even if I’m not always a patient mom.
Getting all the tricks to stay calm and in control takes time, and I still slip up from time to time. I do have a formidable temper that I’ve struggled with all my life. But it’s getting better. And if I feel my temper slipping, I just stop. And that’s what I tell the kids: mommy needs to stop for a moment. I sit down, on the couch or the floor, and usually they join me. They might not completely understand what’s happening, but they recognize a good opportunity to hug when they see one.