Ever feel like you should be more patient? Or if only I was more patient!
I often get moms who tell me that they should be more patient, and the first question I always ask is What about you? So often we beat ourselves up about how we “should be” and forget to take care of our own needs.
Here are some ideas on how to help become more patient and more importantly understand what is really causing the impatience and meet that need.
1. Take Time for Yourself
When we feel impatient, it is our body telling us that we need something. Our focus is usually on what is happening in the moment, but it is a good idea to take a step back and ask ourselves, what are we really needing? What has been happening in the week, day, hours before? Have you had YOUR needs met? Our impatience often surfaces when we have had other external pressures like work or other family commitments. Scheduling time for ourselves every day is essential, we need it! Even if it is 5 minutes sitting in the car quietly before going into the house. Allowing ourselves some quiet time, making time during the week to have a cup of coffee or glass of wine with our friends can make a huge difference. Ask yourself: what could I do or organize for me that would feel satisfying? Self-care is the first step to being a good parent, it not only makes us feel better, it teaches our children to take care of themselves too.
Once we have heard and met our need, we can look at the situation in the moment.
2. Some Questions to Ask
A common example of when we are impatient can be in the mornings getting our children out of the house and to school on time. It is helpful to do some pre-planning before the morning
• What can I organize the night before?
• Is there someone who can help and how can I ask for what I need?
• What is my clear message to my children?
• What are my clear boundaries and am I consistent without becoming emotional?
• What can my children do on their own and what do they need help with?
In my home with my special needs son, our mornings used to be hectic. One of his character traits is that he takes a long time to do things (he gets distracted). I used to get so impatient with him. I would resist and try and get him to be faster…that didn’t work and all that ended up happening was those mornings would be a fight! When I took a step back and accepted that he took a long time, I could then find other ways to make our mornings work. We had a few ongoing chats together to work out how we could do mornings differently. Our solution: We woke up earlier, he took out his clothes at night, we packed away distractions (toys and later cell phone) at night so that he would not be distracted by them. I got clear in my message and boundaries. We leave for school at 6: 30 am. The boundaries were if he wasn’t ready he would go as is. There were a few days he went without shoes and sometimes breakfast.
3. Trial and Error
Have conversations with your children, in the afternoons, in the evenings. (not in the moment or when you or they are in the emotion) Include them in problem-solving each situation. What do they think? How do they think it could be better? It is a trial and error process to work out with our children. Our children are all different and it is about building our awareness as parents of what works and what doesn’t and being happy with, and following through on the boundaries we set! I.E. in my example perhaps no shoes in winter would not be a good idea. Our goal is to teach them, but when our frustration or anger gets in the way, the lesson gets lost and the focus becomes about the emotion. That is why taking care of ourselves is the first step so that we can be present and facilitate our children’s learning.
Try different things and assess with them. Asking them questions and letting them try things not only builds their confidence and empowers them but also builds their problem-solving skills. Try this even when they are little, you may be surprised at what they come up with and it is not only about the solution, it is training their minds to think about it. When we are consistent with consequences it can sometimes get worse before it gets better. Hang in there and as long as we are meeting our needs and not getting triggered in the process, the solution will come.
4. Our Perspective
The challenges we have with our children will always be there, they just change as our children grow and go through different phases. As with life, there will always be things to work out. With my son I used to think when he gets this right, I will be happy, when we get to this stage it will be easier. I learnt that this was not the case. When I learnt to take care of myself enjoy the process rather than resisting it, our relationship and his potential improved hugely. When I listened and took care of myself and wasn’t dependent on his behaviour changing in order for me to be happy, I could facilitate his learning effectively. My impatience had served its purpose, it got me to focus on me rather than trying to fix the situation to make me happy and it started to show up far less often.
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If you would like to know more about how to handle your specific situations you are welcome to book a session with me on email@example.com