Of all the qualities I’ve had to develop as a mother, patience has probably been the most challenging. I’m an impatient person by nature, and kids can move so awfully slowly!
But over time I’ve figured out some tricks that have helped me re-train my brain to be more patient:
1) Anticipate delays.
Waiting for the kids to get their shoes on, waiting for them to come out after basketball practice…parenthood involves a whole lot of waiting. I’ve found that I can keep from getting too bored and antsy when I anticipate those delays and even come up with ways to keep myself occupied while I wait. For example, keeping your Kindle in your purse or downloading a favorite podcast to your phone means you won’t have to watch the clock drag by while waiting for a dawdling kid to come out of the school building.
2) Build in a buffer.
Some of my most impatient moments are when I feel hurried or worried that we’ll be late. By building in an extra ten minutes of “getting ready” time I can relax a little. (But don’t overdo it! I’ve also found that when the kids think they have all the time in the world to get ready, they dawdle even more than usual. A sense of urgency, but not emergency, seems to keep them on track and on time.)
It might seem overly simplistic, but often I can ratchet back that panicky “just hurry up already!” feeling rising in my throat by taking a few extra seconds to breathe. Take a deep breath in to the count of ten, exhale to the count of ten, and see what a difference it can make.
4) Ask yourself, “How important is this?”
Sometimes I find myself getting bend out of shape out of something that really doesn’t matter that much. When I start getting upset because the kids are moving slowly, I sometimes ask myself, “Is this really that big a deal? Is it important enough to be angry over? Is it important enough to yell over?” And most of the time? The answer is “no.”
5) Learn to enjoy the wait.
Sometimes a slow kid can be a blessing in disguise. If your toddler stops every three seconds during your walk to examine a bug on the sidewalk, that’s a great opportunity for you to “stop and smell the roses” yourself. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the go-go-go of the grown-up world, but sometimes there’s a lot to be said for slowing down to kid speed and experiencing the world in an unhurried way.