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I’m not a particularly patient person.
I wish I was. It’s something that I work on constantly. It’s not just with my kids, either.
So why am I even writing this post? Obviously, since patience is a future strength, and most definitely NOT a current strength, what gives me the knowledge and the authority to dole out advice to other impatient moms?
It’s pretty simple – it’s because I get it.
I get frustrated and overwhelmed. I yell at my kids when I probably shouldn’t, since they don’t deserve it. I’m trying and learning to be more patient as I go, since it doesn’t come naturally to me.
I still need to learn how to be a more patient mom – this post is as much for me as it is for you. It’s full of the strategies and techniques that I also need to remember to use when I’m feeling anger, frustration, and impatience toward my kids.
Many moms start their days all refreshed and new, with their patience replenished. But sometime during the day, that well has run dry – the patience is gone.
If you’re that mom who feels like your patience tank is empty by mid-afternoon when your youngest is refusing his nap, or you’ve turned into a frazzled, crazy mess around that witching hour between 5 and 6 p.m. when you’re trying to cook dinner and clean up before your husband gets home, these tips are for you. And for me 🙂
Let’s learn how to respond with kindness and gentleness, choose love and connection instead of irritation and impatience, and then we can practice together.
A Pertinent Personal Example of What Not to Do
We’ve all lost our minds over really silly things – a spilled glass of water, asking for candy 1,837 times in 15 minutes, dirty clothes that make it next to the hamper instead of in it (is it REALLY that hard to toss the dang clothes an extra 6 inches?)…
That’s when the mom-ster comes out. You’re no longer the kind, gentle, loving mother you usually are – you’re a scary, rage-y Momzilla that’s out for blood.
And then you see the hurt feelings on the face of that beautiful child. And you’re still seething and not ready to apologize, even though you know you need to.
I HATE that feeling. It just happened to me yesterday. I was sitting at my desk, and my youngest daughter got sidewalk chalk all over the pants that she had on, and she wanted me to wash and dry them in less than 30 minutes, when we would need to leave for soccer. I started out by gently explaining to her that there wasn’t enough time, and she started with the whining. And the demanding. And then, horror of horrors, SHE LEANED ON MY DESK CHAIR AND MOVED ME. So I lost it on her.
The worst part is that those bursts of rage are usually over something so silly, so insignificant, as was definitely the case with this example.
So there it is. I’m soooo winning at this mom thing.
Luckily I write about continuous improvement, and I don’t claim to be perfect!
(I did go and apologize to her shortly after “the incident,” by the way. I even did it before I was ready and while I was still fuming inside. Baby steps!)
Do You Want to Be A Patient Mom?
Of course. We all do. We all want to be that kind, loving mom who reacts calmly to any and all catastrophes. We want to be the mom who has it all together.
You’re a work in progress. So am I. Momming is an incredibly challenging job.
There are strategies we can use and habits we can implement to become a more patient mom, no matter the age of your children.
But first, let’s start with the question that we allllll ask ourselves sometimes:
Why is Patience Such a Challenge?
It’s simple, really. It’s because THEY’RE ALWAYS THERE. Especially if you’re a stay-at-home mom or homeschool mom, you are with those beautiful little beings literally 24/7. There is no relief.
No one can be “on” all the time without cracking eventually. It’s just not possible.
What Causes Your Impatience?
Before we talk about strategies to become a more patient parent, let’s talk about why we get frustrated and lose our patience in the first place. You can’t fix your problems if you don’t know what’s causing them.
Have you ever made a conscious effort to think about what causes you to snap? Your “triggers,” if you will?
I can tell you that I struggle most between about 4 and 6 p.m. It’s when I’m frantically trying to make the house presentable for my husband and when I’m trying to cook dinner. Usually, that’s the time when the kids are asking for snacks, even though they KNOW the answer is no because I’m making real food for them. They’re all old enough to understand this, but they still think they’re going to die if they’re hungry for 20 minutes.
Then they’re all in the kitchen, trying to sneak bites of dinner while I’m running around from the stove to the island to the fridge, and they’re in my direct path.
You may have specific triggers like mine, or you may just hit a wall during the day, and you need a break.
Here are some reasons why you might struggle with impatience:
- Parenting can be an exhausting, thankless job. It’s also rewarding, but it’s hard. It can challenge your patience when you try so hard to make things perfect for your family, but they don’t appreciate it. Like when you spend an hour cooking a dinner that you’re certain they’ll all love, but then they spend all of dinnertime complaining about it.
- Our children are not our entire lives, even though it sometimes feels like they are. We have spouses, hobbies, jobs, friends, and other things that are important to us. But our kids are so so good at demanding our attention (or getting into a huge fight with a sibling) just when we’re about to get to doing some of those other things that matter to us.
- Lack of sleep. I don’t know about you, but when I’m not making sleep a priority, my temper is definitely shorter than normal.
- Overwhelm and burnout. When your to-do list is long and you feel like you never get a break, it leads to overwhelm. It’s exhausting to do so much for your family and to feel like you never get a second to yourself.
- Hormonal imbalances can cause irritability, which leads to impatience. Or even just the typical hormonal shifts during your cycle can cause irritability at certain times.
- Ups and downs in your mental health can lead you to snap at your kids more often. Depression and / or anxiety affect your mood and can definitely cause your usual loving, gentle self to lose your tolerance and self-restraint.
- Sometimes it’s the kids themselves that cause the buildup of impatience. For example, at 8 and 11 years old, I think that my kids should be able to listen to me the first time when I ask them to do things. When they don’t, I get upset.
Do any of these feel familiar to you?
Once you determine your personal triggers, it’s time to do something about them. First brainstorm positive ways to handle the causes of your impatience, then implement the solutions that you come up with.
If you know that not getting enough sleep leads to your short temper, it’s time to prioritize sleep as best you can. If making dinner stresses you out, and all of those interruptions try your patience, brainstorm ways to handle this time of day before it happens.
Whatever your triggers are, when you figure them out and look for possible solutions, you automatically put your mindset in the right place to address the issue.
Why Should You Try to Increase Your Patience?
Ask yourself this question – how do you want your child to remember you? How do you want them to remember their formative years at home?
The reality is that you only get your kids for a short time. I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to always think of me and our home as safe, warm, and cozy. I want them to remember that we have fun here and, more importantly, that I love them more than anything.
I definitely don’t want my kids to remember me as a ticking time bomb who nagged them constantly and yelled at them for stupid things like spilling water or tracking some dirt into the house.
Beyond that, kids are such sponges. Whatever we do, they learn to do. It’s so crucial to use this “authority” for positive character building so that they can find their own happiness and have proper coping mechanisms in place later in life.
This is why it’s so important to be intentional with your actions.
How to Be A More Patient Mom – The Goodies
#1 – Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
It’s not the end of the world if your child drops his piece of toast, peanut butter side down, onto the floor. So why do we react like it is?
I mean, I spill stuff too sometimes, and I don’t make a big deal about it – I usually even laugh at myself.
Just clean it up (or, better yet, teach your kiddo to clean it up) and move on.
By not sweating the small stuff, you’re showing your kids how to handle mistakes appropriately – by not beating themselves up and maybe even by laughing about it a bit.
#2 – Relative Priority
As busy moms, we’re usually trying to do too many things at once. It’s helpful to think about things relative to their priority levels.
Even though what you’re doing is important, not everything that you’re trying to get done will cause your entire life to fall apart if it doesn’t get done right. this. second.
Yes, some days you need to clean up the house because you have guests coming. But on other days, does it really matter if you put off washing the floors for another day?
This doesn’t mean that you should just give up, but it does mean that you should try to remember the relative priority of different tasks so you can aim to complete the most important things, but stress out less on the ones that can wait until tomorrow.
#3 – Try to See Things from Your Child’s Perspective
It’s easy to forget that kids are still learning. Sometimes we expect them to act like mini adults, but that’s not what they are.
Next time you feel yourself starting to lose patience, put yourself in your child’s shoes. When you try looking at the world through their eyes, you might gain a new understanding about why they’re upset or whiny.
It’s probably really frustrating to be a child sometimes. They can’t express their big emotions because they don’t have the vocabulary. Their bodies simply can’t do some of the things yours can because they’re not developed yet.
When your child is throwing a tantrum, it’s not because they want to make you mad – it’s because they’re trying to communicate with you. By trying to see the world through their eyes, it shows him or her that you truly want to understand and help. And sometimes that type of connection is all they need to stop their tantrum in its track.
#4 – Be Present
This one is hard, but so so so effective. Being present is something that you have to be really intentional about. When you’re with your family, be with your family. When you’re at work, be at work.
Being present in your parenting requires that you forget about everything except THIS moment. The more present you can be with your family, the more you’ll actually enjoy them.
Put your phone away and look your children in their eyes. They’re pretty cool little people who have fascinating things to tell you.
You’ll see your child respond with cooperation and happiness. And when they’re happy and cooperative, it’s less likely that you’ll lose your patience.
The biggest benefit of being present? You’ll be able to watch how your child blooms under the energy of your full presence.
#5 – Take a Break
For some reason, we think that we need to be supermom 24/7, 100% of the time. We need to get every little thing done – the cleaning, the errands, the work, the school, the parenting, the wife-ing…
But we’re human, and our systems get overwhelmed when we try to be all of the things to all of the people. We need breaks during the day for our mental and physical health, otherwise our overwhelm will quickly lead to complete burnout.
When you start to feel edgy or overwhelmed, take a break. This doesn’t make you a lazy person – it means that you know yourself enough to know that you need to stop for a bit and regroup.
If you have trouble noticing when you need a break, write one into your daily schedule. Rest, exercise, read a book, or do whatever refreshes you enough to finish out the day more patiently. It will help even if you’re not yet able to recognize when you need one!
#6 – Count to 10
Try it. It seems too simple to work, but it does.
When you feel yourself getting angry, stop. After you’ve counted slowly to 10, either in your head or out loud, the impulse to yell will have mostly gone away.
It allows your mind to focus on something besides your impatience. You’ll be forced to think before you speak (or yell or completely fly off the handle).
#7 – Say “No”
Stress leads to impatience, and an overbooked schedule will quickly stress you out. Say no to things, and you’ll gain more patience.
I’m more likely to lose my patience if I’m overcommitted and short on time. So I’ve learned to recognize my limits and say no to extra activities and obligations – and not feel guilty about it.
This goes beyond declining invitations or “obligations” that you don’t want to participate in, although that’s important too.
Sometimes you need to reject adulting for the day – say no to cleaning the bathrooms and yes to a playground adventure or a trip to the ice cream store. Those bathrooms will still be dirty tomorrow, but it might not be sunny and gorgeous outside!
#8 – Adjust Your Expectations
Our kids are human, and they make mistakes – just like we do. And we sometimes expect behavior that’s beyond their capacity developmentally.
Your children, no matter how much they’re upsetting you, are likely behaving perfectly normally. Be mindful of their age – they’re going to act like children because they are children.
Remember that they’re just kiddos, lower or adjust your expectations a bit, and use their “mistakes” as opportunities to teach, not scold.
#9 – Take Care of Yourself First
If you aren’t taking care of your body, you won’t be equipped to take care of others. Get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, exercise, and eat something better than leftover chicken nuggets off your kids’ plates.
Truly caring for yourself is a process – don’t try to do everything perfectly all at once. If you can get a grip on two or three of those four things, you’ll be okay 🙂
There will be months when you get no sleep because your baby isn’t sleeping through the night. There will be crazy days when you legitimately don’t have time for a proper meal, so granola bars and string cheese will have to do. It’s normal.
However, on the days when your needs do go unfulfilled, you’ll probably be crabby. Make that the exception, and not the rule.
#10 – Find a Calm-Down Practice
Figure out what makes you calmer, less cranky, and less stressed, and do that. Keep a few calming tricks up your sleeve, and when you feel yourself getting frustrated and impatient, use them.
These “anti-triggers” can be things like:
- Take 5 deep breaths. Use calming essential oils while you do this, if you’re into that sort of thing.
- Go outside. Sit on your porch steps for a minute or, if you have childcare or kids young enough for a stroller, go for a walk.
- Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and stare into space or read a book for 20 minutes.
#11 – Pretend Someone is Watching
You’re always more patient in public, so why not pretend that you are in public?
Pretending that you have an audience can help you keep your anger in check and allow you to think more clearly about how you’d like to respond when your kids are acting up.
#12 – Focus on Connection
Connecting helps you remember the important relationship you’re building with your children. Play board games. Do fun things. Snuggle. Look them in the eye during conversations.
Making connection a priority will improve your mood, making you a more patient mom.
Prioritize your time with your kids, remember how awesome they are, and focus on connection over tasks, and you’ll feel the love – and so will they.
#13 – Just Laugh
No one is perfect, and life should be fun. Smile, laugh, and be happy.
It doesn’t always work – sometimes everything is too hard. But remind yourself that life isn’t always meant to be taken so seriously.
Have fun with your kids and your spouse, and laugh every day.
#14 – Love First
Instead of reacting with anger, try to react with love. It’s always the best solution to any problem that gets thrown your way.
Patience is a way to show love. It feels terrible to lose patience with your kids, and it really, really sucks when you hurt their feelings for no good reason. I have personal experience with this 😛
Breathe deep, remember how much you love your kids, and react with love. This will help you model patience for your kids and it will help you get through the challenges of parenthood a little bit more easily.
Life happens. You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you react. Be intentional in your reactions and responses.
It will take time and consistency, but it’s definitely worth it to put these tips into practice – you’ll soon see your own mom life becoming less stressful and more intentional. And you’ll notice that you have more patience, which is the goal here.
Don’t beat yourself up if you slip back into old habits – there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Tomorrow is another day. Just try again – focus on love first, and the patience will follow.
You’ve got this!
Do you have any other strategies that have helped you become a more patient parent? Tell me about them in the comments!