If you’d like to set the tone for a more relaxed atmosphere in your home, Mighty Mommy can help. Here are 5 ways you can be a more patient parent this summer and beyond.
The school year is winding down and, for that, I’m quite grateful that my family will not be inundated with as many scheduled activities and obligations as during the school year. It does, however, mean that we’ll be spending a lot more time together, so quite honestly we can get on one another’s nerves much more easily.
Even with our college kids at home to add to the mix of our eight-kid household, I know from past experience that my temperament can make or break a more relaxed atmosphere, and being patient with all the demands put on me is definitely the key..
Tip #1: Know Your Breaking Point
Whether you have one kid or eight like I do, we all have hot buttons, and our children are usually pretty savvy at figuring them out and pushing them—particularly during a stressful time like the cranky period just before dinner or when we’re drowning in a sea of dirty laundry and running late to a sporting event minus someone’s uniform top.
Take a few moments alone (yes, without any children in the mix) and do a little self-evaluation of what your triggers and breaking points are throughout the day. Usually, there’s a pattern. For me, it’s getting out the door on time in the morning. With so many kids in need of getting their own things organized and ready, there is literally not a minute to spare if I need to get anything done for myself. I used to be cranky and harried until I came to grips with the fact that the kids weren’t going to change unless I set the tone and pace for our family each day. Once I started getting up 45 minutes earlier than the rest of the family, I had time to take care of my own needs and didn’t need to rush around like a headless chicken once the rest of my gang got up. This gift of 45 extra minutes each morning keeps me relaxed and allows me to be much more patient with my family's requests.
See Also: How Routines Can Simplify Your Life
Tip #2: Pretend You Have an Audience
I usually have a laid back personality, so when I do get riled up, it’s quite noticeable. Although I’m a low-key type of person, I still have plenty of moments with my kids where I want to throw my hands up and yell, “I surrender!” It’s easy to overreact when our kids are goofing off, not helping out around the house after they’ve been asked several times, fighting with each other, or being disrespectful, but if someone you respected like your child’s teacher, your pediatrician, your coworker, or a close friend were to see you lose your cool with your kids, you’d probably be mortified and try to pull it together as quickly as possible. So, why not get into the habit of pretending you have an audience? You’re less likely to overreact with your child if someone’s there watching your every move.
See Also: Were You a Good Parent This Year?
Tip #3: Visualize and Meditate
One item I had on my personal “bucket list” for many years was to learn the art of meditating. No matter how many times I tried, however, I just couldn’t quiet my busy little mind down for even a few seconds, never mind a 15-minute stretch, so I began to think it would never happen. Then one day I was walking my now 9-year old in the stroller when she was only about 2 years old and we stopped at the beach to look at the ocean. The water was very calm with tiny waves that were breaking against the shore. Each time a wave broke the water would return to the sea and a new wave would come in.
I began visualizing that each time a wave broke and went back out to sea, it was taking my stress and worries away with it. It instantly calmed me down, and I’ve been using this tool ever since. I have since taken this technique many steps further and use it to visualize the end result of how I’d like any situation to turn out.
For example, one of my sons has ADD and really struggles to get his homework done each night. It’s just as much work for me to help him stay on track as it is for him to get the assignments completed. When I walk by the water, I visualize us calmly working on his projects—the difficult parts are being washed out to sea, and his ability to tackle the hard papers is brought back in with the tide.
If nothing else, taking deep, cleansing breaths when tension starts to build is a proven way to get you relaxed and invoke a lot more patience into your busy life.
See Also: Spring Into Stress Free Parenting
4. Take Care of Your Own Needs
Parenting is chaotic and busy and often relentless without any time for even a small break. Another important piece to maintaining patience is making sure you’re taking care of yourself as well as taking care of everybody else. How many times have you heard others preach about keeping your own tank full of fuel so that you’ll be better able to care for your family? Taking time to do things you enjoy—activities outside the home, a date night with your partner, or just taking time to relax in a hot bath—not only recharges your batteries, but also sets a great example for your kids that self-care is essential and healthy for the entire family. I enjoy kick boxing as well as gardening and have worked these two activities into my weekly schedule for quite some time now. When I nurture myself, I feel refreshed and definitely have more patience to tackle family situations that might otherwise make me irritable.
5. Practice Patience Daily
Patience is definitely something that takes practice. Like any habit, you need to work on it consistently so that it becomes a part of your everyday life. Find a mantra for yourself that you can recite when you feel yourself getting edgy. Mine has always been, “This Too Shall Pass.” Pick one time during the day that you’d like to exert more patience, such as that witching hour before dinner. Kids will usually test the waters during this time because they’re tired after a long day of school, most likely hungry, or just restless after having to be at their best during the day amongst teachers and peers. Continually remind yourself not to overreact to your child if he’s pestering you for cookies before dinner or wants you to go out and run an errand, such as getting him a new soccer ball for practice later that week. Instead of barking that you’re busy and can’t help him until after you get dinner fixed and on the table, see if you can catch yourself, then offer up a few minutes of your undivided attention so at least he knows he’s on your radar screen and not being pushed off until you’re not too busy. When you do catch yourself practicing a bit more patience, pat yourself on the back and realize that you can continue this and instead of reacting with anger, teach yourself to react with love and laughter. You’ll feel better about how you interact with your kids, even when they’re getting on your nerves, and at the same time, you’ll be teaching your kids this valuable practice for themselves.
See Also: 6 Ways To Take Back Family Time
What helps you to become a more patient parent? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Patience image courtesy of Shutterstock.