Parenthood can take a toll on any parent. Learn the secrets on how to be a more patient mom and enjoy your kids once again.
It happens often, at predictable times. I hop on the computer to look for recipes when my kids interrupt and ask me to fix a broken toy. Other times, they’ll whine or complain within minutes of waking up for the day (not exactly a great start to our morning).
It could even be when they’re being silly and loud—they’re not even doing anything wrong—and it still happens.
I snap. Yell. I lose my patience.
How to be a patient mom
We’re all human and will succumb to impatience at some point. But sometimes we notice it’s happening more often, despite our efforts to think positive or “count to 10.”
If you can relate, take a look at the following signs to see if you need to be a more patient mom (plus tips on how to do so):
1. Stop yelling
I never considered myself the “yelling type.” But toward the end of my twin pregnancy and once the babies were born, I was yelling at him more often than I ever did.
And it seemed to just erupt out of me, yelling the minute the triggers that caused me to yell happened. Other times, I reached my breaking point and yelled because I felt like that was the only thing that would get him to listen.
From yelling above the chaos of your home to losing your temper, yelling is never pleasant for anyone. Sure, you might get your kids to cooperate, but only out of fear and submission, and without considering their point of view. The more you do it, the less “effective” it gets.
Yelling can also feel “gratifying” at first, releasing your pent-up frustration. But the remorse and its effects are immediate and terrible for all.
What to do:
- Imagine that someone is watching. Picture a friend sitting nearby, or even imagine you’re on camera that researchers would later use to study. Pretending you have an audience keeps your anger in check and allows you to think more clearly about a better way to respond.
- Practice how to react calmly. Before starting your day, imagine how you’d want to react and the attitude you should have. When triggers happen, you’ll feel better prepared to deal with them.
- Develop a plan. It’s likely you yell at predictable times, like when the kids fight over the same toy or whine about not going to the bathroom. Develop a plan to rely on once those triggers happen. You might tell yourself, You’ll get irritated when they fight over the same truck again. If they do, you won’t yell. Instead, you’ll have them to take turns. You’ll use the timer to give each one 10 minutes at a time with the truck.
Free resource: Exhausted and feeling guilty from constantly losing your temper? Even if it seems like you’ve tried just about everything, you can stop losing your temper, if you start from the inside out and change from within.
In How to Finally Stop Losing Your Temper, you’ll learn what you can do when you feel that rush of anger rising within you. Grab your copy below—at no cost to you. You’ll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:
“I appreciate this email greatly. It helps me assure myself that I’m not crazy, makes me feel like I’m not alone here, and it’s okay to slow down for a moment.” -Catherine Townsend-Scott
2. Take breaks
The daily grind isn’t easy for any family with young kids and toddlers. You’re scrambling to get everyone up and dressed, preparing breakfast, and getting ready for school. Then it’s squeezing in work, planning meals, and tackling household chores. No wonder your schedules feel so hectic.
And it’s not like the kids are sitting quietly and behaving all this time. No, they’re fighting and throwing tantrums, stretching the hours even longer. Once you’ve finally put them to bed, it’s time to plan for the next day and do more chores before finally crashing to sleep.
For many of us, this is an all-too-familiar scene in our homes. We get no breaks. Life feels like a long string of “trying to survive,” wondering when we’ll actually get to sit down and enjoy motherhood.
In certain seasons of our lives, this is simply how it is. We don’t get the same number of breaks caring for a newborn as we would a five-year-old. Or maybe you’re an accountant in the middle of tax season, or you’re gearing up for the hectic holiday months.
But chronic busyness doesn’t allow you to think clearly, show empathy to your kids, or dig deeper into why they might be behaving this way.
What to do:
The times when you feel like you get no breaks is when you really need to take one. Breaks can take many forms. A five-minute break in your room can be all you need to emerge calmer and less likely to yell.
A consistent commitment to a hobby like daily morning runs or monthly hangouts with mom friends can also do the trick. Other times, it’s being with your family in a new setting, like playing a board game together instead of running errand after errand.
Then, see what part of your life can change to make more regular space for breaks. Think little things like waking up earlier than the kids or bigger changes like looking for a less stressful job.
3. Organize your schedule
You’re barely able to get a break, much less feel purposeful or organized. Whether it’s caring for your sick child or realizing you have to work late into the night again, feeling overwhelmed doesn’t make for a patient mom.
After all, who can be patient with her child’s antics with so many things to do? When you can’t seem to check off your to-do list, much less attend to big-picture tasks you’ve been meaning to tackle? When you’re distracted, with no long stretches of time to focus?
What to do:
I’ve learned the value of single-tasking and focusing on only the one thing in front of you. Don’t think about all the other tasks, just the first thing you need to do before moving on to the next.
If your brain feels like it’s going to erupt from holding so much information, make a list. Whether physical like a planner or digital like your phone, get these thoughts out of your brain so you can focus on the task at hand.
Refer to your list and start on the next item. Be present when you do these tasks so you do them right the first time and accomplish more with the time you have.
And plan ahead for what you’ll need. Nothing is worse than scrambling right before you need to get something done. If you know your baby has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning, get the diaper bag ready before the day ends.
4. Take it slowly
Not only do you feel like you have no time, you also rush through whatever few minutes or hours you have. It seems like you just served the kids their snack, and now it’s already five o’clock and they’re hungry for dinner.
You’re also more likely to make mistakes when you’re rushed. You forget to write your grocery list or don’t reschedule the dentist appointment like you’d been meaning to. And you don’t get to experience life and enjoy it. Your days seem to zip by with you barely hanging on for the ride—all in a foul mood, too.
The result? Your anxiety and irritation are at an all-time high.
When the kids want to read a book, you get irritated at yet another distraction right when you needed to focus. When they bicker and fight, you’re less likely to guide them through their conflict and instead threaten to throw away all their toys.
What to do:
First, slow down. Literally slow your actions down. Don’t think about all the other things you have to do, as that only makes your actions more erratic and stressed.
Then, remind yourself that it’s not that big of a deal. In most cases, the things we’re stressed about aren’t as terrible as we make them out to be. So what if the kids eat at 5:15 instead 5 o’clock, or you’re running late to the doctor’s office (you’re already late anyway—might as well drive safely)?
And finally, think about scaling back. Where in your life can you simplify? Can you cut back on school volunteering, or space out your home projects a bit more? Can you buy pre-packaged, healthy snacks for lunch, or not do laundry as often as you used to?
Slowing down, reminding yourself it’s not a big deal, and scaling back will help you feel less rushed and more carefree.
Do you feel tired, even after you’ve already had your morning coffee? Feeling overtired and groggy throughout the day doesn’t make for being a patient parent. You’re not as alert as you can be, and aren’t able to think clearly or with your child’s best intentions.
You’re also going through the motions, willing the clock to move faster so you can put them to bed and get a moment to yourself.
What to do:
Get as much sleep as you can. Depending on your season (the newborn stage doesn’t lend itself well to sleep), make rest a priority.
Yes, those after bedtime hours are the only opportunities you get to have time to yourself. But dedicate part of that time, no matter how little it may already seem, to going to bed sooner. Don’t push yourself to stay up even later if you can help it.
Or wake up earlier. Those morning hours can be brutal when you’re waking up alongside your kids. You can barely think about how to dress them and which breakfast to prepare, much less be the patient mom you want to be.
6. Set expectations
Do you expect your kids to have a perfect track record, only to get upset the one time they whine or throw a tantrum?
It’s also easy to forget that their behavior is actually normal for their age. That they should be defying their parents and asserting themselves, and that many kids have done the same.
For instance, my kids put their dishes in the sink like clockwork, so much so that the day one of them didn’t, I gave him a big stink for it.
“Your dishes,” I scolded him, “are still on the table. I already asked you to put them away and you still haven’t.”
Thankfully, my son chose to forgive my attitude and let it go, because it’s these moments when I realize I expect too much of them.
What to do:
Expecting too much of our kids makes us forget that they’re human and make the same mistakes you and I do. We also forget that their brains are wired to behave in certain ways. It’d be silly to imagine a five-year-old restrain himself from every misbehavior—he’s only five.
Remind yourself that your child, no matter how much he’s upsetting you, is likely behaving in a normal way. Tantrums, whining, and “ruining your day” are all normal behaviors.
And second, use the opportunity to teach, not scold.
Each challenge is a chance to teach him how to behave. Maybe it’s learning how to better identify and manage his emotions, or to take turns with a toy. Think of these as opportunities to teach what you know rather than setbacks to your day.
7. Let go of complete control
You freak out when things don’t go as you planned, like when your kids get sick or they refuse to eat the meal you just cooked. This is understandable, considering how much you do for them, from poring through their school work to blending baby food.
But when things don’t go according to plan, you freak out.
Yes, you can control and enforce many aspects of their lives, like the time they sleep and the breakfast they eat. But you’re left with many circumstances you can’t control, from their thoughts and behavior to whether they get sick at school or have a good day.
It’s easy to forget that the world doesn’t cater to our Grand Plans. I freaked out when I learned I was having twins partly because this wasn’t part of my plan (I had only wanted one more baby, not two).
What to do:
You might think your child never behaves or always cries over everything. Instead, remind yourself of the many times she did behave or didn’t cry. Remember the recent good things she did, proving she doesn’t misbehave all the time.
Then, build into your life the expectation that some things will go wrong. That just because it’s been months since she had a meltdown means she’ll still have one at some point (and today happened to be it).
8. Appreciate your kids
From time to time, you wonder how different life would be if you didn’t have kids. You imagine having more time to yourself and more money in your savings account instead of dealing with defiance and middle of the night wake ups.
Yup—you sometimes resent your kids for how much having them has changed you and your life.
What to do:
Remember: they never asked to be in this predicament. You’re also less likely to show empathy when you feel like they’re the cause of your frustration and sadness.
We’re all bound to feel resentment, but if you feel like it’s happening too often, focus on seeing things from their point of view. Imagine how they see the situation, and what they could be feeling.
Then, remind yourself of all the heartwarming moments you’ve felt since becoming a mom. Be grateful for the good days you’ve had, and that despite the struggles, you wouldn’t trade it for anything if it meant not having them in your life.
The days when we lose patience are always hard, and on everyone too, despite how common or inevitable they may be. We feel like we have no time, much less the breaks we need. We’re rushed from one thing to the next and feel tired from all our duties.
We yell more often than we’d like, and expect too much of our kids. So much so that we want to control everything, and even feel resentful toward them and parenthood.
If you can relate, you’re not alone.
Take these action steps to heart and begin to make the changes you want to see. The kids being silly or refusing to eat their dinner won’t elicit your anger, but rather the calm presence of a more patient mom.
Get more tips:
- What I Wish People Told Me About Being a New Mom
- What to Do when Your Kids Don’t Listen to You in Public
- Be Kind to Yourself
- Why Every Parent Needs to Show Empathy
- How to Discipline a Strong Willed 2 Year Old
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