“Our children give us seven million opportunities to practice patience, so you should eventually master it.” – Nicole Wolf
Someone recently emailed me asking what inspired me to write a particular post. And my answer was that I teach what I need to learn and that is particularly true of the message in this post. And it just dawned on me that it’s not about what I need to learn because I already know this stuff in many ways.
It’s what I need to practice, consistently.
Life is one big major or class that provides countless lessons and opportunities for growth and once we learn those lessons we must practice them over and over until it becomes the way we live and show up. Meaning until we master it. So this post is about one of those lessons I, and possibly you, need to practice and master.
I am a loving, kind, patient, and all around great (okay just pretty good) mommy for the most part. But there are times when I am a raging lunatic. It’s one of the biggest shames of my life because I hate being that person – the utterly impatient mommy who is screaming over spilled milk or some equally insignificant incident. I mean really. It just isn’t that serious but you wouldn’t know that based on my reaction to the little annoying things my children do that drive me crazy and apparently send me over the edge.
So I’m writing this to tell myself, and those of you who can relate, to just STOP IT. Stop it now. Stop losing it over the spilled milk. Stop getting all mommy dearest on your children.
Okay so none of us are nearly as bad as Joan was with Christina but you get my point.
I’m not saying that I or any of you reading this are physically, mentally, or emotionally abusive with our kids but I am saying that many of us tend to overreact over the little things.
I’m using spilled milk and wire hangers to speak metaphorically for anything insignificant your children (or anyone else for that matter) do that frustrates the hell out of you. And I’m saying…Stop over-reacting. Stop pulling your hair out. Stop threatening. Stop berating your children who are just being themselves – kids who spill milk, have accidents, make mistakes, fight with their siblings, don’t always listen (okay never listen), make messes and don’t clean up after themselves.
Instead take a really deep breath or two or three and get a hold of yourself woman.
Calm yourself. Leave the room if you have to in order to regroup so that you can deal with the situation at hand in a calmer state. None of it is that serious. But protecting your children’s spirit is that serious.
I am embarrassed to even admit that I have this issue but I figure there are other moms who suffer from it too and need to hear that they don’t suck.
We all need to just forgive ourselves and do better.
One way to do that is to channel the calm mommy.
Let me explain. One of my dearest and best friends exudes calm when it comes to her children. I look at her in awe at how composed she stays when dealing with challenging moments involving her children and I just want to be more like her. And in a way I can be. She sets a really good example for me all the time and when I’m being challenged by my own children I realize that I just need to channel a little bit (or a lot) of my friend to bring calm into the moment until I can be sane on my own. We all know a mom like this who is beyond patient even with the most difficult child. So channel her the instant you realize you are losing it. Ask yourself what would “she” do and say in this moment. And do and say that.
I know this may sound crazy and hard to do (in the heat of the moment) but try it. It just might work and you just might find yourself being “the calm, patient mommy” naturally over time.
A couple of other things that are really, really important to staying calm and patient have to do with how you take care of yourself.
It is vital that one, you get enough sleep. Your children have meltdowns when they are tired and so do you. And two, that you drink enough water. Dehydration can surprisingly contribute to a higher level of irritability and grumpiness.
Let me share with you how I personally know this to be true.
It case you’re wondering, I actually do practice taking care of myself and when I do, it works. I just need to do it more often. Because when I don’t practice it this is what happens:
Just like you, I often find myself up late watching TV, playing words with friends, reading or surfing the internet (for many of you it’s Facebook that keeps you up, isn’t it?) all in the name of relaxing and getting some quiet me time after the kids are in bed, only to find myself tired and grumpy the next day. When what I should do is take a relaxing bath and then go to bed so that I can be well rested and refreshed the next day, which translates into energy, patience, and the mindfulness to parent with greater ease.
I have also witnessed myself losing it when I have not fueled my body with enough food because I am too busy to stop and eat and when I am dehydrated which causes me to have a headache and a bad case of the grumpies. Yep, dehydration = extreme irritation + impatience. What a simple and refreshing solution…drink more water and you’ll flow through frustrations and challenging moments with greater ease. Who knew? You can read about a study that proves this here, so you know I’m not just pulling this wisdom out of my ass.
Okay so let’s sum up the four simple things you can do to be a more patient mommy:
Take Deep Breaths when you feel yourself losing it
Channel the most patient mommy you know
Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep (some of you need more than others, and you know who you are)
Drink 6-10 Glasses of Water a Day (again, some of you need more than others)
Additional Resources + Insights:
For more insights on being a more patient mommy read this post from the Practical Mommy blog. You might also want to check out a book by Hal Edward Runkel, entitled Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool, which puts the focus where it should be, on your reactions and behavior and not on your children’s.
One more thing I want to leave you with…I recently read a post by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits entitled Flowing with the Stresses of Kids (or anyone else) and it gives us a new way to look at the spilled milk and the countless other things our kids do that frustrate and stress us out and then it tells us how to deal appropriately. It really helped me have a more useful perspective on things and I often try to remember that “the boat is always empty” and to say to myself “empty boat, wind blowing.” You have to read the post to get what I’m talking about.
I highly recommend you check it out but first please leave a comment below and tell me how you manage the little frustrations and stresses of parenting young children? How do you practice patience my dear?
And you know the rest of the drill…pass it on…and subscribe below. Thanks!
Take care of you,