Lengthening the Fuse: 5 Tips for Becoming a More Patient Mom

Life with a toddler is a like roller coaster. One minute you’re flying high, taking in all of the beauty and sights and feeling on top of the world. The next, you’re plunging head-first down a stress spiral and into a tunnel you can’t see through to the end.

There are tantrums and meltdowns and an endless stream of “Why Mommys?” There are days you just want to pull the covers over your head before you ever get started.

It’s hard. We all have our own ways of coping— good and bad.

Recently I was talking with some friends about this up-and-down parenting thrill ride we’re on and one of them made an interesting observation: that in most marriages, one parent seems to have patience and the other has a shorter fuse.

We discussed these 5 tips that all help us become more patient parents:

Consider it for a moment. What’s your parenting temperament?

Are you a patient mom, the kind who never raises her voice, or do you find yourself yelling when you’re at your wit’s end?

Do you remain cool as a cucumber when your child tests your limits for the one hundredth time? Or do you react out of anger and frustration?

I suspect that for most of us, we fall somewhere in between those two extremes. We all have bad days, and we can all stand to do better.

With that in mind, I’m giving us all a little motivation, inspiration, and a few tips to work on as parents.
Prioritize their Needs

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when your child is demanding attention…and NOW! But by taking a few steps back you can give yourself the space to realize that you don’t need to match your child’s level of urgency. Stay calm, and it’s likely that your child will calm down too. Ask yourself if the situation requires immediate action, then meet their needs accordingly:

I know you want more to eat but you just had a snack. Mommy will give you more at lunchtime. Now show me those blocks you were playing with earlier!

Schedule Me Time

As moms we’re so busy meeting the needs of others that we can easily forget about our own. Schedule time for decompression and re-centering. Do the things that remind you of who you are, independent of motherhood. I took a dance class for this reason a few years ago. I also have regular dates with my husband and get togethers with girlfriends. Even when I can’t fit that kind of time in, sometimes just closing my bedroom door and reading a quick article or painting my toenails gives me a pick-me-up when I’m stressed.

See Things through Their Eyes

Remember that children want desperately to please their parents. When they’re testing your limits, their intention is not to annoy you: they simply don’t have the skills or maturity of adults. Ask yourself what could be contributing to the problem— could hunger, exhaustion, anxiety be to blame for their behavior? Identify their needs and focus on meeting them instead of reacting to the behavior.

Remember that You’re the Example

There’s no better motivation for me than remembering that as their mother, I’m the single most important influence on my children’s lives. They’re watching me and learning from everything I say and do. By acting out impatiently, I’m showing them that that’s acceptable behavior, even if I tell them differently. Actions speak the loudest words.

Do you struggle with patience as a parent? What helps you “lengthen the fuse?”

Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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