As someone who struggles with patience, I was excited to have Zara Lewis contribute an article about how moms can practice more patience — not just to benefit your children, but to benefit yourself!
Patience. One small word and yet – such a powerful, all-consuming notion. With the children acting out (yes, they can drive us nuts and there’s no need for you to feel ashamed of it) most of the time, there isn’t much to do but pray they’ll just tire already and stop at one point. Or – we could all go on and practice more patience. Yes, sounds like a plan.
What exactly counts as patience?
Roughly speaking, being patient means staying composed and calm, even in the face of a child’s extreme acting out behavior. It means “being able to keep your emotions in check so you can respond in the most appropriate or effective way,” rather than cursing or yelling. To most parents, being patient seems more difficult than climbing Mount Everest successfully. But with a few healthy steps, it really can be an achievable goal.
Even though I’ve been dreaming about climbing Mount Everest since I was a child, I’ll share some necessary steps to take towards increasing your ability to be patient.
1. Identify Your Triggers
Identifying triggers is the key step to dealing with mastering your ability to remove any type of negative behavior — in this case — a lack of patience (with your kids). The moment you understand your triggers, you’ll be able to control them and re-direct them for positive.
- Where are the triggers most likely to happen?
- Whom with are they constant?
- What type of situation may trigger a behavior?
- What time of day is typical for a trigger to react?
- Is there a physical/physiological need that may cause a trigger?
For instance, being hungry, sleepy, overworked or tired may shorten one’s fuse considerably; seemingly banal things like a peak in one’s voice, certain words, gestures, etc. may also be common triggers. These (and plenty others) are all individual traits; mastering them will help you get more patient.
What can help is giving your children a pre-emptive warning the moment you feel the trigger coming: “Mom’s getting hungry, which means Mom’s getting nervous – and we all know what happens when mummy gets nervous.”
What I started practicing with my kids was to tell them “Mummy’s hungry and you know what happens when mum’s hungry, right? She gets cranky; let’s let mom eat and we’ll deal with everything afterwards.”
You can move onto step two only once you have a clear understanding of your triggers.
2. Think of the Response
Step back for a second and try to detect what goes on with you when you are triggered. What are you feeling? Hard breathing, sweaty palms, increased heartbeat, getting hot? What thoughts are you having at that point? Why does she always lash out? Will he ever do what I ask? Why do I have to deal with this? Will her behavior ever change? Am I a bad mother for losing it? All of this information will build the puzzle and help determine your tipping point.
I used to get light panic attacks; my palms would get sweaty and I’d be struggling to breathe… Once I’ve realized this was happening, each time it would happen I’d tell myself, “It’s okay, you’re not dying, it’s slight panic” And it’d go away.
3. Develop a Plan
Detecting your triggers means being able to solve them. This can be done in several ways:
- Pre-planning – giving yourself some transition time between work and home that allows you some down time.
- Planning for punishment depending on your child’s behavior; this should be agreed on with your partner so you both give kids same treatment. In these situations, good cop/ bad cop doesn’t work.
- Establishing ways you’ll react at the moment triggers are happening, think about developing calming mantras or talk to a therapist about finding a solution.
- Sitting down with your child and problem-solving his/her behavior, explaining the wrongs and why things can’t go on as they are.
4. Find the Time For Self-Care
When you’re frazzled and running on empty, it can be almost impossible to stay on an even keel. This is why you need to take care of yourself in order to be able to keep things from overheating.
Say goodbye to “mommy guilt” and start loving yourself again; enjoy activities outside the home, go on a date with your partner or spend a night out with friends. Invest in your mind and physical health: watch movies, read, sleep, take up yoga, write, paint…whatever feels right. Go shopping, book a spa day, and buy a gym membership. You can also treat yourself to a personal trainer or even one of those electric bikes that will not only help you stay healthy and get a leaner figure but will also let you run away for a second from everyone, fast (yes, it’s okay you’re feeling that way). And this is exactly what helped us.
Finally, whatever you choose out of these, the key is to learn to love yourself again and remember that you’re not only a parent but a person too.
I started boxing and I never skip my pampering sessions any longer; I am loving me – and I think that’s just fine.
Tell us in the comments, what do you do to help boost your patience?