When I was pregnant the first time, I had this image in my mind of the type of mom that I was going to be. I would never yell. I would be patient, I would do all the cool art projects and bake all the cookies with them. My house would always mostly be clean, and we would take daily walks to the park.
Yeah, I was crazy!
It all sounded good in my head before Big Sis was here. But boy did I get a wakeup call after she was born! Being my idea of an ideal mom was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Eventually, I got into a routine and everything was going well.
And then… the Terrible Twos hit! And some days my patience went out the window. It took a lot of effort, trial and error to figure out what changes I could make in my day to day routines to help me be more patient with the kiddos and I’m so excited to share them with you!
Are you sleeping, friend? And I mean actually sleeping. Not laying in your bed scrolling through your phone or watching a movie. Really sleeping, with the lights off and the T.V. off. This one may seem obvious, but so often it is over looked by tired mamas who don’t know what to do with themselves once the kiddos are in bed. Many times, we think that we are “resting” when we are watching a movie or scrolling through our Facebook feed, but my sweet friend, these activities are not giving your mind the much-needed break and rest that it needs.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you get cranky, it’s the same with our kids. We know that if they miss a nap, we are in for one cranky kiddo come 3:00 p.m., am I right? The more tired you are, the crankier you get. And then inevitably you yell at your kids because you are too tired to deal with any sort of attitude.
I know what you are thinking – “I can’t possibly go to bed any earlier. I have so many things that I need to get done after the kids go to bed.” But guess what? Those things that you think “must” get done after the kids are asleep can wait until tomorrow. The laundry will wait. The dishes will wait.
Prioritizing your physical and mental health over your to-do list is necessary to stay healthy and happy. Your to-do list will always be there, but if you don’t get the rest that your body needs, then you won’t be at your best in your parenting, your work, or your marriage.
Going to sleep even an hour earlier will help you get more rest at night. This is especially true if your little one still wakes up at night. That extra hour that you are getting in the beginning of the night will help you feel a little more rested when your little one wakes up in the middle of the night.
If you truly can’t get to bed an hour earlier, there are still other ways that you can get some extra rest in. You can take advantage of nap time. That doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping – although if you can, that’s great! – but if you can at least give your body and mind a break from house work or other work that you are doing, and instead sit down and relax for 30 minutes, you will feel a little more refreshed. A few ways that are good options for relaxing is to listen to music with your eyes closed, sit outside and enjoy the sun, or reading your favorite book.
You can also ask your partner to take one of the night time feedings if your baby takes a bottle. This will allow you to get a longer stretch of sleep if you can sleep through one of the night time feedings. Now, I understand that this option may not be viable for you if, for instance your kiddos are like mine and have never taken a bottle a day in their lives. This meant that I had to do every single night time feeding because my girls only wanted to nurse. This led us to practice co-sleeping.
Another option is co-sleeping with your little one. Co-sleeping can help you get more rest when you little one is still waking up at night because it eliminates you having to get out of bed when your babe wakes up in the middle of the night.
Co-sleeping can also make your little one feel more safe and secure, allowing them to sleep more soundly and usually for longer stretches of time, which means that you get to sleep longer too! I have co-slept, and still co-sleep, with our kiddos. Yes, it can be inconvenient and uncomfortable at times, depending on the size of your bed, but my girls both slept so much better when they slept with us.
There are safety measures to take before you decide to co-sleep. If you and your partner are both very heavy sleepers, it may not be the best idea to co-sleep. If you are concerned about not being aware of where baby is in your bed or have other reservations about co-sleeping, another option is to get a bassinet that attaches to the side of your bed so that baby is close, but still in their own space.
The “C” Word
Let’s have a little chat about the “c” word: control.
Yep, I said it. Control.
We are all a little bit of a control freak to a certain degree. We want the towels folded a certain way. We want the kids to play nicely together. We want our work to go smoothly so that we can finish on time and go home.
Often times we yell from a lack of control over a situation. We can’t control the traffic, so we get frustrated and yell at the car that pulls out in front of us.
We can’t control the fact that dinner got burned, so we yell at our husband.
We can’t control our children when we ask them to clean something up, so we yell at them.
The more things that pile up in our day that we can’t control, the more likely we are to lose it and yell at our kids.
When you feel like you are losing control of a situation, try naming 5 things that you can control right now. Examples of this could be: I can tap my foot 5 times fast. I can add 9+5 in my head. I can name the colors I am wearing right now.
As silly as some of those examples may sound, focusing on things that you can control uses the logical side of your brain and allows you to get out of the emotional side of your brain. Being logical in a situation helps you stay focused and thinking clearly. Whereas, when we react in the heat of the moment, we are not thinking clearly, we are reacting emotionally. Many times, yelling is a knee-jerk reaction to emotions running high. By pausing for a minute before you yell, you can calm yourself down a bit.
By saying things that you can control out loud, you are getting out of your own head and forcing yourself to focus on something that you can control. You don’t want to yell at them and then regret what you said a minute later. You can’t take words back, but you can pause before you say anything. The words that we say to them become their inner voice, so we need to be thoughtful and careful with our choice of words towards our children.
Don’t forget… they are just kids.
Sometimes, as moms, we can forget that our kids are just that… kids. We forget that they are learning and figuring out how they fit into the world. Kids are not born with all the knowledge that we have as adults, and that can be an easy thing to forget. I know that I have been guilty of this before! Things that are second nature to us as adults is something that we need to teach out kids.
When we forget this, we get frustrated and impatient with. To help remind yourself of this throughout the day cut out a small heart or use a sticker and place it in various places in your home and car. Any time you feel like you are frustrated and wanting to yell, look up at the heart and remember that your little one is still learning and looking up to you to be the good example that they need.
Don’t make your kids beg for your attention. If your child is constantly pulling at your legs or your shirt, they are trying to tell you that they desperately want your attention. If your little one is always asking you to play with them or do a specific activity with them, they are telling you they want your attention. Kids may not be able to say “Mommy, I want you to pay attention to me.” but instead they will tell you that with their actions and it is your job to interpret those actions.
Kids are smart. They know when you are only half paying attention to them. Instead of playing with them while you are on your phone, or in the middle of a chore or work put the phone down, let the chore wait until later and really give them your undivided attention.
Patience is one of those things that as moms we have to be actively mindful of. Patience takes practice, give these techniques a try next time you feel your patience is being tested. And remember, give yourself grace, mama.