How to be a More Patient Parent

Hello dears.  Melissa here, back with my next Reflection Thursdays piece!  Please weigh in below if you have thoughts on how to achieve your inner zen while brining up kids!

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My mornings sway between moments of peace and moments of chaos and despair during which I ask myself “how are we going to make it.”

This morning began with coffee and my phone at 6:30am.  Looking at my phone, I knew I had 30 minutes of bliss.  At 7am, my boys awaken and therein begins the 45 minute process of having them wake up, make their beds, eat breakfast, bring their plates to the sink (they do the dishes on weekends but on week-day mornings, forget about it), brush their teeth, tie their shoes, and depart by 7:45.

Looking at this list of “to-do’s”, one would think: “Ok, I can handle that, this is pretty straightforward.”  After all, I am that mom who has boarded a plane by herself with five kids, right?

But nothing with kids is straightforward or simple though, and especially not the kids morning routine.

On some days my boys awake with alacrity, put on their clothes, and make their way to the breakfast table in peace.  All is well.

On others, they awaken cranky and reluctant, and I don’t know how I am going to get them out the door.  Let’s call these the “unbearable mornings.”

The biggest thing making me unhappy during the unbearable mornings isn’t the fact that the boys are throwing blankets and pillows at each other, or crying that they are physically incapable of eating a bowl of oatmeal.

Rather, what riles me up, makes me yell — have to admit it — stresses me out and makes me despair is my IDEALIZED NOTION of what should be happening.  Really, it’s my perspective, my reaction to things that is making the situation unbearable, because I start off assuming that things should be rolling out in a different way.

Here's how I'm trying to learn how to be a more patient parent by not expecting my kids to be perfect.

They should be getting up on their own!

They should be making their beds!

They should be grateful they have hot food to eat!

The list of SHOULDS could go on forever.

Dealing with frustration when this doesn’t happen isn’t always easy. This gap between how I think my kids should be and how they are acting leaves me disappointed, frustrated, and feeling like a complete failure as a mom and, no matter how much coffee is pumping through my veins, drained.  On certain mornings, I’m so drained I crave returning to bed.

Recently, rather than fall into the morning gap of despair, in an effort to learn how to be more patient as a mom, I’ve been making an attempt to take things more lightly.  I’m finding that when my voice remains low and calm, the boys collect themselves more quickly and rise to the occasion.

If I can get the list of shoulds out of my brain, and just say “ok: they are not being great in this moment but that’s normal”, then I feel less out of control and get less angry.  There is more juice and milk in my maternal emotional refrigerator, so to speak.

If, like me, you’re trying to figure out how to stop yelling at your kids, ask yourself what it takes to stay calm? How to keep the juice and milk in my maternal emotional refrigerator?  Lately, when trying to think about how to be a better parent by staying calmer, I repeat to myself: “they are kids, don’t take it so seriously, just take a deep breath and just stay calm.”

On a recent morning, I left my boys groaning in their beds and went back 5 minutes later after having sat at the kitchen table by myself and drunk a long cold glass of water with lemon and Aloe juice.

The glass of water restored my calm, and allowed me to side-step the extreme annoyance I normally fall prey to.  Five minutes later, my boys were laughing and eating their breakfasts.  I was happy too, since I didn’t resent having been put through the agony of losing my mind and patience.

So what has helped me withstand and even enjoy the previously unbearable mornings?

  • To learn not to make too much out of a crummy moment
  • To realize my children are made up of a million different possibilities and that when they don’t act well, it’s not the end of the world
  • To realize that when I can stay calm and kind, I feel less out of control, more centered, and more happy even later on, and that my behavior helps my kids act better!
  • To learn that every situation is about MY PERSPECTIVE, and that if I can look at things in the right way, I can feel happier and be a better mom.
  • In other words, in the words on Frozen, to learn to digest the bad and LET IT GO.

Life with kids is ugly, messy, difficult, exhausting, depleting, but also miraculous, tender, inspiring, affirming, and above all rich.  And this is how it should be.

If you want to stop losing it with your kids, as I did, try to forget perfection and embrace imperfection.

Thanks so much for reading and make sure to check back in next Thursday for another Thursday Reflections piece.