I would wager a guess that the most used word in a child’s vocabulary is “mom”.
No matter how much I tried to get our littles to say “mom” in the beginning, I quickly learned to regret it once their speech got momentum. Especially when said child repeated that same word a hundred times in a sentence, just because. (Cue eye twitching.)
Don’t get me wrong, I love being called Mom. I love being a mom. I just don’t appreciate the endearing term on repeat. Even now that my girls are in double digits, all it takes is two or more of them trying to get my attention and I’m on the fast track to losing my sanity and my patience.
And I know I’m not alone in this. If you have a child old enough to talk, you get me, right? Right?! (Please say yes…)
I can joke about this now, but I remember a time when I really struggled to find the humor in this daily, never-ending struggle of trying to be a patient parent.
It wasn’t the children needing my attention that had me taking a deep breath (ok, many), but the overwhelm and frustration of having young children who needed a mom who was tapped out on all levels.
The constantly being pulled in three different directions. The dealing with an unrealistic expectation of what motherhood should look like. The struggle to maintain my patience level and be the mom I really wanted to be.
I’m definitely not a parenting expert, but some of these lessons were hard-earned and if they can help another woman feel like a better mom, then they were worth learning.
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How to have more patience as a mom (practically speaking):
These parenting tips are super practical but they work! Try one or as many as you want, and you’ll see what I mean. Then keep reading to the end of this post for some mom-to-mom talk I wish someone had given me…
1. Put everyone on a schedule.
I am not a “schedule” person. Everything in me resists the feeling of being tied down. But with a new baby every couple of years, there was a desperate need for structure in our lives.
Kids find great security in knowing what to expect. Structure helps with child development and offers calm in situations they can’t fully understand yet.
This has a positive effect on a child’s behavior, cutting back on temper tantrums and melt-downs while curtailing bad habits from the parent such as yelling, etc.
Yes, there can still be moments of spontaneity, but the key parts of the day ought to be scheduled.
I read a tip once: It’s better to create a loose schedule and live by it strictly than to create a strict schedule and live by it loosely. That was such brilliant advice for this free spirit and it kept me from throwing in the towel on schedules completely.
I’ve not always done well with this point, but it’s proven itself enough for me to keep returning to it, especially when life starts to get out of hand.
And having a schedule has helped my kids to know what to expect each day, which heads off the onslaught of questions, which in turn keeps me from losing my mind. Because three kids all asking the same questions is enough to make anyone lose their minds.
2. Have Chore Charts for the kids.
Not only do kids thrive on structure, but they also love the feeling of accomplishment and being a part of something. We all do. It’s why we create lists and why we tend to work better as a team than apart.
But as a mom, having my girls pitch in around the house did more for my mental state than probably anything else has. Being relieved of some of the burdens of running a house allowed me to focus on other things, which helped me feel more in control of my life again.
So many parents struggle with giving their kids chores. Trust me, I get this. It’s hard to have a child help with the chores. It takes twice as long, their attention isn’t always engaged, and the finished project often looks less than ideal.
But TRUST ME, you want to take the time to teach them. Because they need to feel like they contribute to their family. They need to feel important. And they need to know how to work hard and keep a house. Because they will move out one day and they’ll appreciate knowing these skills.
Growing up, I watched more than one mom skip this part of motherhood and they ended up straining their health and always wondered why their teenagers never cleaned. Even as a kid I knew what the problem was.
By the time I was in Jr. High, my mom had taught us enough that she retired from cooking and cleaning until we girls moved out of the house. And I’m so thankful for that work ethic.
Now that I am in the same stage of life, I can confidently say that our two older kids could run the house if they needed to, and our youngest is fast on her way.
And my mental health has never been better. Trust me on this one; it’s a game-changer.
3. Keep a weekly menu.
By the time we’ve put in a full day with kids, housework, perhaps homeschooling, and everything else that happens in a day, dinner is often the farthest thing from our minds. And probably how ‘breakfast for dinner’ got its start. Cereal, anyone?
Takeout is the next best thing but it was rarely an option in our budget, so I had to come up with something that would help eliminate the stress of not knowing what to make for dinner. (Using a menu also helped me save money at the store. Win/win!)
Take time to create your menu (and your grocery list while you’re at it) and post the menu where everyone can see, providing instant gratification for the child always asking, “What’s for dinner?”.
Then start your morning by checking the menu so you know if you need to start prepping early and can adjust your schedule accordingly.
It’s an easy fix to a common problem but it’s a solution that has saved my sanity and made me a more calm and patient parent.
4. Get away from it all.
Even now, with my workload ever-growing, I hit my limit from time to time. Thankfully, I have a few things that help me take the emotion down a notch or two.
Sometimes, I go to my room, shut the door, and spend some time unwinding in the quiet and solitude. But if I don’t want to head upstairs, I’ll put my work away, pull up Spider Solitaire and play some soft music while I veg. Another favorite is coloring.
Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at seeing when I need a breather long before it becomes essential. I have used these measures many times because they work well for me. It’s important to have some go-to techniques that help you destress whenever you need them.
But for those times when it isn’t possible to get away, this stuff is magic. (Use Code KimberlyM10 for 10% off!)
4. Make time to work on yourself.
I started to notice that I struggled with my impatience the most when I was just plain tapped out. When I hadn’t had time to refill my own reservoirs and was running on fumes.
My kids didn’t want to be around me, I didn’t even want to be around me. And because I wasn’t taking time for myself, I was spiraling. It’s painful to even admit this, but this went on for years.
Eventually, I started losing sight of who exactly I was. And this was a big problem. Because how was I to work on being a more loving, patient mom when I didn’t even know who that woman was anymore?
After some serious soul-searching, I learned how to get back to myself, which has done SO much for me and my family. I found that taking time for myself wasn’t selfish, as I once thought, but a necessary ingredient in positive parenting.
5. Slow life down.
I live in what is considered a bustling suburb of Chicago and I’m telling you, life here can be hectic. Our personal lives are also very busy with work and school and church life.
Too many times I have ramped up the stress in our lives because I was constantly trying to keep up. We despised the busyness and lived for the summers when life was much more calm and relaxed.
Eventually, I came to realize, if I was always living for the times when life was slower, I would never enjoy the times that weren’t. And that was nine months out of the year.
So I found small ways to slow life down every day so we could enjoy the here and now. Something as simple as stopping for ice cream on the way home started putting life back into our days.
This bit of mindful parenting was exactly what we needed. We started looking for other ways to enjoy the time we had together and before we knew it, the busyness didn’t feel the same anymore.
There was less yelling and more calm and we weren’t rushing through our days trying to make it to bedtime. Which made the extra time and extra effort well worth it.
How to have More Patience as a Mom (emotionally speaking):
Ok, this is where we talk mom-to-mom, heart-to-heart about the things that need to be addressed but might be a bit harder to work on. But stick with me, these will help just as much (if not more) than the practical points I mentioned above.
1. Understand Your Limits with Patience
This topic may be slightly taboo, but it’s vital to understand some underlying issues that might affect our ability to cope with daily stress.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., and women are twice as likely to be affected as men. And depression affects millions of adults each year.
I am not a doctor so I will not be imparting any medical advice, but as someone who knows, let me convince you to get help if you feel out of sorts. I’m not talking about that “off” feeling we sometimes get, but the ones that don’t go away or that impair our daily lives.
After giving birth to our youngest, I struggled with so many things mentally and physically. It took months and even years to fully recognize these struggles but once I did, I worked at understanding them. Only then could I help myself get better.
I’m in a totally different place now than I was 8-10 years ago, but that did not happen overnight. It took being proactive about my well-being. It took knowing my body and my mind enough to understand that what I was experiencing was not normal. And it helped to be open and honest with my husband so he could learn how to be there for me.
So if you are not feeling yourself, PLEASE seek help. At the very least, find a support group of moms. It really helps.
2. Recognize Your Triggers
This helped me SO much when I was starting to think patient moms were an urban myth.
There were times I was doing great, feeling like I had this mom-life in the bag, and then one of my little ones would have a bathroom accident, and all at once, I had a carpet to clean, clothes to wash, and a child to bathe.
Goodbye peace and calm. Goodbye, even-keel. Goodbye, patient mom.
Thankfully, my oldest understood me very well and could tell when I was hitting my limits. There were many times she put the clothes in the wash and start on the carpet while I bathed her sister. Just the act of her jumping in before I could break down and cry was enough to help me keep things together.
To be honest, I didn’t like the fact that one minor thing could put my mental state into a nosedive. But it was true. And it was happening often. I knew I had to fix this because it was not good for my kids to see and it definitely wasn’t a good place for me either.
3. Head off Frustration and Mom Guilt
Sit down with a piece of paper and pen and brain dump all the things that have frustrated you this week. Everything you can think of, even little things. (Little things add up, remember?)
You might be surprised to see what made the list, things you might not have realized were triggers. But now that you see them on the paper, they make sense, right?
Now, on another piece of paper, rearrange them in order of impact. Which are your worst offenders? Add those first. And so on.
Now pretend this is your friend’s list. If she came to you with that paper and asked for your input, what tips would you give her? Starting with the first trigger, add some ideas next to it you would recommend she try that would help diffuse those situations.
“Removing yourself” from the advice you give yourself can be more effective as you’re less likely to think up excuses. Better yet, give the list to your mom, sister, or a trusted friend and see if their tips aren’t exactly what you need.
This practice helped me to mentally recognize the areas I needed to work on and the ways to head them off. For instance, getting ready for school in the morning was a big stressor. So I started getting clothes, lunches, and backpacks ready the night before.
This made a HUGE difference! And I might never have taken the time to notice this issue had I not made a list and thought of ways to defuse the situation before it happened again.
4. Have Patience With Yourself
We can have all the tips and techniques at our disposal, but if we aren’t willing to put in the work, we might as well throw in the towel now. We need to accept that being a patient parent is not something that happens overnight.
The harder we struggle with patience, the longer it might take to change. (I can say this from experience.) These tips are things I practice daily. It’s been years since I started implementing them and if I’m honest, some days are harder than others. But I keep working on it. Because having patience isn’t really a destination. It’s more of a journey thing.
As long as we decide to continue on that journey, no matter how many times we lose the path, then that’s all that really matters.
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