I’m here to tell you about one extremely simple strategy that you can start using immediately to help make you a more patient mom.
Have you ever noticed that some days you seem to be able to handle anything your little ones throw your way, while other days a single glance can set you off? There are, of course, many factors as to what makes a mom lose her patience – fatigue, sleep deprivation, being overworked, not having enough support (just to name a few).
But there is one factor that seems to rise above the rest when it comes to patience with our children and that is your expectations. Your expectations for what you might be able to accomplish in any given day, your expectations for how your children ought to behave, your expectations for going out to public places – these all have a major effect on your patience level with your kids.
For example, let’s say it’s Monday morning and you have it in your head that you are going to clean your bedroom, go grocery shopping, and finish the pile of laundry stacked up in the hallway. Your 2 year old has meltdown after meltdown and your older kids are bickering, leaving you exhausted and frustrated that you weren’t able to accomplish anything you had in mind for the day. Nothing sucks away a mother’s patience more than a list of unrealistic expectations.
So what can you do to shift this mindset and gain back your patience? Change or lower your expectations, drastically. Start the day planning for your 2-year old’s meltdowns and the bickering and fighting between your older kids and think about the strategies you might use when that happens. Have a list of “could accomplish” tasks rather than a list of “must accomplish” tasks. Plan the absolute essentials for your child’s sleep times, and let the rest go. Expect that your children are going to need 100% of your energy for the day.
I know what you are thinking – all of this seems completely counterintuitive. Shouldn’t I be holding high expectations of my children’s behavior? Why wouldn’t I strive to be productive during my day?
When you are mentally prepared to handle a day full of challenging behaviors and expect that it is going to take up your physical and emotional energy, you become pleasantly surprised when your children play calmly, behave well, and listen to you. This makes you see them in a more positive light and approach them in a more gentle and cheerful way. When you approach your children with positivity, they see themselves in a positive way, and their behavior continues to improve. More time in your day comes naturally when your children are being cooperative, and you will have time for those “could accomplish” tasks on your list. This pattern leads to a much happier and more patient mom, as opposed to the old cycle where you held such high expectations over your children and yourself that you felt run-down and frustrated when nothing got accomplished.
One important thing…
Please know that when I say “change or lower your expectations,” I don’t mean throwing in the towel when it comes to dealing with your children’s behavior. Don’t approach challenging behaviors with the mindset: “Well I knew he was going to act this way so there’s nothing I can do about it.” Approach it instead with the mindset: “I’m prepared to help my child work through this – I’ve saved my energy today for this moment.” Ask yourself, “How can I make this a positive teaching moment?”
The reality is…when you meet your children exactly where they are, you are going to be more prepared to approach them with patience rather than judgement or anger.
Don’t get me wrong, changing your expectations won’t solve all the other problems mom’s face daily. Moms are still going to be overworked and exhausted, because being a mother is a full-time job. All I’m suggesting is that we shift our perspective to acknowledge that kids need our attention and our emotional energy. Kids need the opportunity to learn and make mistakes… kids need the opportunity to be kids. Everything else will work itself out, but one thing you will never regret later in life is having more patience with your little ones.