In the beginning when I first became a parent, right through at least the first couple of years of Elliott’s life, I was far from having patience. I snapped easily, I was very much an impatient parent, I didn’t take the time to appreciate a moment and was always stressing about what I had to do next.
Fast forward a couple of years and I’m pleased to say that I’m close to being a patient parent. Close.
It’s not easy though and takes practice and mindfulness. When I do snap I know automatically that my mind has wandered and lost focus and have to work hard to shift it back.
So how can you become a patient parent? Here are some tips that have worked for me:
Figure out what your triggers are
Figuring out my triggers is a biggy for me and is also how I was able to beat my depression and anxiety. It works with parenting too. Try to work out things like when, where and why you lose your patience. For example, with me I definitely lose my patience when I’m tired and when I’m hungry (hangry) or when I’m running late for something. Once you have a good idea what these triggers are, try the next point.
How do you respond?
When you verge on becoming impatient and snappy, how do you usually respond? Observe what happens to your body, observe the thoughts that cross your mind, observe how you respond. With me, I tend to get a racing heart and my body sort of tenses up a bit. You may even tend to 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 what you do when you recognise your triggers
Once you recognise your triggers, by no means does it mean that you will recognise them and be able to deal with them straight away. It takes practice to recognise them which is why it’s good to set yourself a plan. What I mean by a plan is firstly coming up with ways that will lessen your triggers like taking the time to rest and stay calm. Planning for what you will do when a stressful moment arises, will you plan to step away from the situation or perhaps breath deeply? Creating a plan also means thinking to yourself after the situation about how you dealt with the situation or perhaps taking the time to sit down and talk with your child about the situation.
Take time out
If your triggers are tiredness and exhaustion, perhaps you need to take some time for yourself to practice some mindfulness, to meditate or to SHOP! Whether it’s to go out for coffee with a friend, a trip to the shops on your own or 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.
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!
How do you maintain your patience and what great examples have you seen of parents showing patience with their children?
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT