In the beginning, when I first became a parent, I was far from being a calm parent with patience. I snapped easily, I was impatient, and I didn’t take the time to appreciate moments. Instead, I was always stressing about what I had to do next. Calm parenting was not my forte. But to cut myself some slack, I had undiagnosed Bipolar then, too.
Fast forward a few years, and I’m pleased to say that I’m close to being a patient and calm parent. Close.
It’s not easy though and takes practice and lots of mindful parenting. When I do snap, I know automatically that my mind has wandered, that I’ve lost focus and had to work hard to shift it back.
Wondering how to be a calm parent, and a patient one? Here are some tips on how to become more patient.
Tips for being a calm parent
Determine what your triggers are
Figuring out my triggers is a key factor for me, not just with parenting but my mental health in general. It takes a bit of practice but when you can work out triggers like the when, where and why you lose your patience, you can try to remove yourself.
For example, I often fail in calm and patient parenting when I’m tired or when I’m running late for something. Once you have a good idea what these triggers are, try the next point.
How you respond
When you verge on becoming impatient and snappy, take note of how you respond. Observe what happens to your body, observe the thoughts that cross your mind, observe how you respond. I tend to get a racing heart and my muscles tense up. You may even get hot and sweaty. When I’m feeling impatient and snappy the most common thoughts that run through my head sound a bit like “he never listens to me” or “I just can’t take this anymore” or “I want to disappear and not have to deal with this.” As soon as I start to feel these things and think these thoughts, it’s what I do with them that makes the difference to how I respond. I can either recognise them and catch them or let them go and slip into impatience.
Plan for how to deal with your triggers
Once you know what your triggers are, it’s important to have a plan. What I mean by a plan is coming up with ways that will lessen your triggers. This might mean taking the time to rest and stay calm, you get out of the house and go for a walk or simply step away from the situation into another room and breathe deeply. Creating a plan also means giving your time to ponder the situation after it happens, assess how you dealt with it and perhaps sitting down to talk with your child about the situation.
Take time out for self-care
If your triggers are tiredness and exhaustion, perhaps you need to take some time for yourself to practice some mindfulness, to meditate or for some well-deserved self-care! Whether you go out to coffee with a friend or take a trip to the shops on your own for a pedicure, this is a great way to lessen the chance of your triggers reoccurring. If you feel like you’ve been snapping a lot lately and losing your patience, perhaps this is a good sign that you need some time out. If you have anxiety, read this article on things you should stop doing which may also be linked to your impatience and outbursts.
Here are some lovely ways parents have shown their patience (via Reddit). It’s all about your mindset.
My father used to keep a pack of markers next to his bed so on weekend mornings when we would wake up and crawl in bed with him we could entertain ourself by giving him “tattoos” while he caught up on sleep. He’d snooze away- he’s a farmer- it was a rarity, and let us draw all over his back, legs, arms, stomach. Then, when we finally covered him he’d wake up, walk to the mirror and admire all of our markings with pride. Markers will eventually come off!
Last week, I was waiting at a car dealership while my vehicle was getting worked on and there was a mother and her daughter taking turns reading Harry Potter to each other out loud. The mother had to pause several times while her daughter explained the characters to her, even though she definitely knew it all already. But the calm way she handled it was just amazing and so different from what you usually see. The story will eventually come to an end, and so will the moment, embrace it.
A guy took his daughter to the pool and was just watching. She stopped swimming for whatever reason and she was dripping wet, and then she said something and he gave her a big hug and she went back in the water all giggly and happy. It was cute how not a single care was given about getting his clothes wet, putting a smile on that girls face was more important. It’s just water!
I believe that when it comes to being a calm parent, we have to be easy on ourselves. With the busyness of juggling kids, work and life, particularly if you’ve only just returned to work after baby, we can’t expect ourselves to be calm and patient all the time, it’s often a recipe for emotional burnout. Calm parenting often fails when mothers aren’t looking after themselves first, when they put everyone and everything before themselves. When trying to focus on how to be more patient, self-care should always be a the top of your priority list.
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