Being a parent is hard work and now that I have two toddlers on my hands, there are days where I find all my buttons being pushed and my patience wearing thin. There’s definitely some truth to the “terrible twos” and “threenager” phases, and the moments of whining, backtalk and disrespectful behavior can really put my nerves on edge. Instead of reacting to and constantly feeling like I was disciplining my little ones, I made a commitment to myself that I would take a more preemptive approach and be a more mindful patient parent. While this is still a goal that I work towards every day, I feel like I’ve found a few techniques that have really worked for me and wanted to share my tips with you!
1. Identify your triggers.
I take notice when I am starting to lose my patience and stop to determine what is going on within and around me. For me, my main trigger is when I’m stressed from a deadline I’m trying to make, whether it be trying to finish a project at work or even just trying to get everything ready to head out the door in time for an appointment! Even when we’re playing, Dylan and Mei can tell when my mind is elsewhere (I’ll admit I’m usually thinking about deadlines piling up or trying to figure out how to tackle my todo list) and act up trying to get my attention. Negative attention is better than no attention and sadly this is when I know my patience is being tested. After identifying my triggers, I try to come up with a plan to avoid similar situations in the future. Whether it’s saying no to more blog opportunities, becoming more efficient at work, or even outsourcing some of my responsibilities (e.g. meal planning was taking too much of my time on weekends so now we use Plated / Blue Apron / Hello Fresh). In this case, just being aware of what triggers you to lose your patience is key. From there, you can then come up with ways to proactively tackle the situation!
2. Empathize + reconnect.
Toddlers have big emotions at their age and even small things can be a big deal for them. I’ve learned not to diminish the importance of their feelings or what they’re experiencing but instead to always get on their level and try to understand it from their point of view. No matter how busy I am, whenever I see that Dylan or Mei is having a hard time dealing with something, I’ll kneel down so that I’m on their level, and help them explain what it is they’re feeling. While empathy doesn’t stop the tantrum, there is a certain degree of relief to being understood. Developing emotional intelligence isn’t easy but helping my kids know how to verbalize their feelings instead of bursting into tears is certainly a step in the right direction. I always want my kids to feel connected to us as their parents. We make it a point to ditch the phone at dinner time and at night whenever we’re putting the kids to bed to make sure that the kids have our attention 100%. Spending a few minutes reconnecting at the end of the day makes a huge impact for us to all be closer as a family.
3. Take a deep breath.
When I start to tense up, my breathing gets more shallow and erratic. I don’t even realize it, but my shoulders are raised and I have tension built up in my upper body. I’ve been wearing the Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker for the last 3 weeks and it has really made me more aware of times when I need to take a deep breath and calm down. The Spire Fitness Tracker is the latest in wearable technology and while it can track calories, activities, and steps, what really sets it apart is the fact that it measures breathing patterns throughout the day. It can help me pinpoint moments when I’m calm, focused, or tense based on my breathing. Going back to my first point about identifying your triggers, the Spire wearable tracker alerts you in the moment when you are feeling stressed and suggested breathing exercises and meditations to calm down. For me, the nudge to take a deep breath and calm down is exactly what I need to recenter myself.
I also love that the device is super sleek — it looks like a small pebble and slips seamlessly into whatever I’m wearing. It’s worn such that the clip faces out and the pebble is touching the skin (I usually wear it on my bra but you can also clip it to the inside of your pants). Even the charger is really beautiful and I love that I can just rest the Spire wearable tracker on top instead of having to plug it in. There is a companion mobile app that connects via Bluetooth to the Spire wearable tracker and it’s so cool to be able to see my breathing curve. I love seeing the insights from the app as it also syncs to my location, calendar, and photos to determine the where, what, and why behind my calm, focus, and tense streaks! I know that when I feel myself losing my cool (whether it’s with the kids or even if I’m getting stressed at work), it’s a gentle reminder to calm down and take a deep breath.
4. Make time for yourself
I know when I don’t take care of myself, I’m less able to take care of my little ones. There’s a reason airlines instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others! Whether it’s taking an hour to work out, getting a pedicure, or having a girls’ night out, it’s important to be able to recharge your own batteries and have something for yourself. For me, I make sure I spend at least 30 minutes each day getting active. As a result, I am able to stay centered better and can be the happy, patient, encouraging child that I want to be for my kids.
While some days will be harder than others to keep your patience, it’s good to keep the big picture in mind. Mistakes will happen and there are no perfect parents. Even two steps forward and 1 step back is still a step in the right direction. I take time to reflect on what’s been working and what hasn’t been, as well as visualize what I can better do in the future. I make sure that my kids feel loved and that they know they are always accepted just as they are.
Keeping your patience and being a mindful parent is hard work but definitely one that is so important for kids and parents alike. I hope that by sharing my own story here and letting you know the tips that have helped me along the way that it can be of help to you as well! This is a continuous process for me so I’d love to hear your tips for staying patient and mindful too!
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