practising gratitude

Monthly review – tips for being a patient parent

So we are now two months into 2015 and I am still loving having the one goal, a single focus for me. As there is only one thing to think of, I think about it every single day.

This is a change from previous years. When I have set multiple goals sometimes making a decision on what to do with my time was difficult as a choice one way would further one goal but perhaps negatively impact another or vice versa. Now if I have to make a decision, my goal of being a planned, patient and present mother to my beautiful kids generally makes the choice for me. For example:

  • On the weekend I had a work project that was calling my name, but I ignored it and proceeded with my weekly prep. Taking the time to have food for lunches and snacks for both the kids and me for the week, makes life so much easier during the week. It just takes some pressure of the weekday busyness of life and therefore I am more likely to stay patient with the kids.
  • I have worked hard to lose the constantly checking of my iPhone. Often I have to wander around the house to work out where I put it last. This has been one of the best things I have done to ensure that I am present with the kids – I make the choice to be fully with the kids, not dividing my attention to needlessly check email etc.

Constantly focusing on the one thing also means you get better at it quicker. This has been particularly noticeable for me with my patience. My level of calm I am achieving and being patient with the kids has improved out of sight compared to late last year.

And this is not because their behaviour has necessarily become instantly better, in fact over the last month parenting has tested me with some of my biggest challenges to date. I cannot say I am handling every situation perfectly, because that is simply not the case, but being patient and considered in my response has certainly allowed for better outcomes.

tips for being a patient parent

Here are some things that are working for me at the moment:

  • Being well rested = more patient.
  • I actually love a challenge. To help me keep my patience, I am viewing staying patient as a challenge to conquer. When one of the teenagers explodes or starts ranting at me, I see it almost as game on. My strategy to win is to use patience and calm to diffuse the situation. It is exhaustingly hard to do at times, but it feels so good when you do it. By staying patient even when they are completely overreacting to my request/comment the situation subsides so much faster too.
  • If I feel my patience fading and a situation erupts, I will calmly tell the child that there is too much emotion to work through this right now and we will come back to it after dinner for example. I make sure I always do come back to it though as it is important to follow through, but by buying myself some time, I can deal with it when I am calmer and I have also had time to think about the best way to address the situation.
  • If the situation doesn’t allow for me to take some time out, I will stop and focus on my breathing for 10-15 seconds, slow deep breaths to help me breathe out some of my frustration and anger.
  • I am often asking myself “does it really matter?” I am trying to keep my patience reserves in tact by not worrying so much about smaller things. This is a particularly useful strategy with the teenagers.
  • Just thinking about the consequences for a few seconds before I react makes a huge difference. I think about the flow on effect of my lack of patience. I think about how the mood of the house so often reflects where I am at. If I raise my voice, stress or anger levels, I then have to cope with it more back at me from everyone it seems. Remembering this is a great motivator to stay calm, deal with the current situation as patiently as I can so as to avoid a snowballing affect.
  • Each day I have a chance to try again. I don’t let one bad moment or day, deter me. I accept that I will fail, but don’t let one instance allow me to fall back into bad habits. I just keep trying.

There have been some days recently when I go to bed thinking that I just do not have one more ounce of patience to give – I feel spent. But I am hoping that just like with my running, the more I run, the further I go and the easier it gets.

What strategies do you use to help you stay patient and calm with the kids?