Parental Patience: How to keep from Losing It

Hello dear readers! This week I am so truly thrilled to feature one of my favorite mama bloggers, the lovely Amy of discoveringwhimsy.com. Her blog is such a beautiful place to escape to while simultaneously being a refreshing dose of reality. I adore her writing and I know you will too. Make sure to subscribe to her blog and follow her on her social channels below so you can continue to enjoy her wonderful posts, ideas, and encouragements, then scroll down to read her fantastic post on parental patience!

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Parental Patience: How to keep from Losing It

My lovely great aunt always says patience is a virtue. I believe it is especially true when spending time with kids. Hats off to teachers since they are some of the most patient people out there. Kids will test and push your patience to the limits. Some days you have more patience and can deal with their testing with humor and teachable moments, a la Mary Poppins . And then there are the other days, the dreaded days, where you are not the parent you want to be. You have a lot less patience and you lose it. So on those rough days, what do you do to get back to the parent you want to be?

Over last few weeks, I have tried to be mindful on what made me feel better and what steps I took to avoid losing it. I also reached out to the community of awesome moms on Instagram to see what they do when they feel like they are losing it. Here are some of the things we do as parents to try to keep it together when our kids are pushing us to our limits. These were the top 3 responses from my informal Instagram poll.

Top 3 Tactics to Keep it Together

 

  1. Take a Mom Time Out! Many of the moms who responded said that stepping back and taking a break really helped. Some lock themselves in the bathroom, others go to the next room, but ultimately it is about giving yourself a bit of your own space to regain your composure.

My favorite quote from Jordan of Beautifully Imperfect Mama https://beautifullyimperfectmama.com/home/

“Most of the time when my toddler is losing it and I’m on the verge, I count to 4 for him and it tends to calm me down right along with him. If that doesn’t work I go into the bedroom and scream into a pillow then regain composure and go for round two 😂

  1. Breathing and Counting: The next most popular coping tactic was just breathing. Some moms use self-talk to remind themselves to breathe and others will count breaths.

Do what Daniel Tiger’s mom says and “when you’re feeling mad and you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four “, or ten or whatever you need.

  1. Fresh Air and Exercise. The third most popular tactic was to get outside and get some fresh air. I would agree that getting outside can really change your mood; usually for the better.

Here is a link to the Instagram post, if you would like to see what some of the moms I follow said, https://www.instagram.com/p/BVkqVb-ltla/ , check it out and feel free to add your own thoughts or tactics.

For me personally, I envision my patience like water in a well. There are some days my patience well is full, easily filled and I have bucket-loads of patience. Then there are other days I’m scrapping the bottom of the barrel for just a drop of patience. On days where my well is half full and the kids are pushing my buttons, I use the tactics the other moms listed above, but I also have some other things that really work for me.

Here are 4 things in addition to the list above that really help me refill my well.

Well Half-Full Tactics

  1. Perspective: I try to remind myself that there are 1,440 minutes in each day (Thank you Google for that fun fact). So even if we have a rough 20 minutes, I still have 1420 minutes to try and do better.
  2. Look at something relaxing: for me I love looking at stock photos, beautiful Instagram feeds or pictures of my kids, when they weren’t pushing my buttons, help me re-center.
  3. Coloring together is really relaxing and its fun for the kids. I have seen so many fun adult coloring books at craft stores, I finally broke down and bought one. I must say it is really is fun and I am enjoying it. Clearly for me, a creative outlet helps.
  4. Turn up the music: Music can be so soothing and a mood changer. Pick an upbeat song, turn it up and dance around! I dare you not to feel better!

Hard Days: where my well is close to being dry

But there are days, where my well is dry, very early on. These dry days are usually due to sleep deprivation, feeling overwhelmed with a messy house, plies of laundry, wanting to do something for me, but feeling like I can’t, or some combination of these things. These are the toughest and I feel the most guilt about these days. These are the days I’ve yelled and/or cried in front of the kids for something or another. Get out and Go

One thing that usually helps is to put everyone in the car and go somewhere. It doesn’t matter where we go, we just need to get out of the house and go! For me this helps because everyone is restrained in their own space. We will drive around, often we end up in the Starbucks drive thru and I get a chai. That first drink of spicy chai helps me escape for a second. After the chai, we go to a park if it’s not raining, if it is raining we go to Target or a bookstore wander around. People wonder why you see moms wandering around Target; sometimes you just have to get away.
Ask for HELP Another thing I’ve learned that helps to fill the dry well, I need to say when I need some help. I can’t expect my partner to read my mind to know when I need a break. After a really hard day or days, I ask my husband for more help. Sometimes instead of doing family time before bedtime, I might see if he can hold down the fort so I can have an hour or two just to myself. This helps so much and I can do whatever I want. This time is a chance for me to be just me and go to the bathroom without someone wanting to sit in my lap.

 

I hope these tactics help you think about what really helps you regain your patience. What fills my patience well, might not fill yours, so you will need to do a little reflection. Try to think about what you do when you are on the verge of losing it or when you lost it, how did you recover? Do you need a physical outlet to refill, a solitary or creative one? What does your partner do? Make sure you share these with each other. Write them down if it helps. If you have no idea, reach out to the community of parents you belong to like I did and see what they say. Parenting can be challenging even on our best days. Being mindful of what refills your patience well will help you get back on track on the half full or tough days of parenting.

 

Cheers,

Amy

discoveringwhimsy.com

 

In Defense of Using Technology as a Mom

The other day, I did the seemingly inevitable. I dropped my phone in the toilet. I was rushing, trying to answer an email while simultaneously taking a fast pee break and SPLOOSH. There it went. I immediately turned it off in a panic, burst out of the bathroom frantically and dashed it into a bag of rice (which for the record WORKS, thank God, my dad also wrapped it in paper towel, highly recommend this method). Besides the obvious dread that my phone would never turn back on resulting in me losing precious information and photos, or that it would turn back on but be damaged somehow, was the fact that I had just lost access to emails, Facebook, Instagram, non-iMessage texting and everything related to my blog. My family lovingly reassured me that my phone would probably be fine, but the fact remained that for 24 hours I would be without my technological best friend. I felt naked.
In complete honesty, I still had my iPad, and wasn’t locked out of all my email accounts, but still. I use that phone for everything. I told myself this would be good for me, a 24 hour technology purge. I would probably even sleep better and feel rejuvenated. To my surprise, however, that was not the case. Let me explain.
First of all, a disclaimer. I do not live with my nose in my phone 24/7. I am not that person who is missing precious milestones because I was glued to my Facebook feed when my daughter took her first steps. But there are a few reasons that my phone enriches my life as a mom and I want to share why I am so grateful for the technology we have today.
Let’s start with the fact that I am that person who incessantly records those milestones with my phone camera. All it takes is a quick swipe and tap and I can watch my son saying “hey daddy” for the next three decades. I can even set it down with the camera on and record our moments together. One day when they leave for college I can sit on my couch licking my empty nest wounds and listen to their first words on repeat if I want. And of course there are many times I don’t record except in my physical memory because I chose to be fully in that moment. But I like having the option to do so if I choose. It’s a balance.

I don’t think it can be denied that being a mom can be lonely, the coziest lonely if you will. I have children dripping off me 24/7 and I love it, but the facts are getting out and talking to other moms can be super hard right now. So, while I don’t live off of scrolling through my Facebook mini feed, I am very grateful for the friendships I’ve made via my social accounts. I love sharing mommy moments I have with other moms and relating to each other, even if it’s via our phone screens. We still empathize, connect, encourage and laugh together, even if it’s after 11pm and we do it via the use of a ton of wine and laugh emojis. I’ve made so many incredible and inspiring mommy friends all over the world, many of whom don’t even speak the same language but we can still connect and support each other.
And no, I am fully aware that cyber friendships don’t replace real in person laughing and connecting. But right now for my life that’s hard to make happen. I can click on the photo you posted today and comment and talk when I maybe couldn’t get together in person. I may not be able to hug you in person, but I can say I’m sorry you had a hard day and let you know I care.
Along those lines is the distraction my phone provides, sometimes in the middle of the night when my babies are nursing nonstop, I can’t sleep, and so I read or look at soothing pictures of the water. I’ve been nursing my babies a long time now, almost 15 months. I love it, and I cannot count the hours I’ve spent staring in their eyes while they did. But sometimes, when they’ve been nursing literally constantly, it’s hard. I feel like my nipples have been sucked clean off and all I want is to run away from all that touches me. And sometimes I get through those moments by catching up with mommy friends on Instagram, or retweeting some yummy recipes. (Did anybody see those mommy shaming articles that were circulating a while back about ‘brexting’? Yeah, shut those down). I distract myself, I get through it, and then I hold their hands and enjoy it again. Breastfeeding is beautiful, but it’s also a lot of hard work. (I talked about that in my last Monday morning coffee rant, click here if you haven’t watched it yet, and please excuse the background noise in that one).

And of course there are many ways to distract yourself, and reading is one of my favorite ways, but sometimes I can’t grab a book and I usually do have my phone, which also means I can read if I choose to that way. And yes, I’m a huge advocate for real life paper crack the delicious binding books but we are talking mom survival mode here. We do what we gotta do.
And of course, as in everything, balance is important. I don’t think it’s healthy to constantly be staring at a screen, for physical or emotional reasons! But I for one am very grateful for the opportunities we have with modern day technology and how much it enriches my life as a parent. What are your thoughts mamas?

We Went on a Date

The other day, my hubby and I went on our first solo date sans kids since their birth. I know that might seem extreme to some as our babies are about to turn fourteen months old, but the facts are that with their being breastfed bottle rejectors leaving them anywhere without me just wouldn’t have gone very well. We have mutually chosen to practice attachment parenting, and both understand the additional sacrifices (and joys!) that choice brings. We’ve been on family dates which we have greatly enjoyed, and are innovative with how we achieve special time together. But, I decided the other day that they would be ok for a brief time and surprised my husband by taking him for a coffee, just the two of us. It was quick, we were gone less than an hour. It took some prep, babies had to be fed right before we left and I snuck out the door while my patient and wonderful parents danced and sung to distract them so they would not notice my departure. And, I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry about them at all (yes even for that hour!) and my husband and I sat feeling slightly awkward in the quiet without our kids.

But, there’s been a lot of stress and change in our lives and as I’ve mentioned before, I think its extremely important to continuously put work into the marriage relationship. Not only because if we don’t put the work in one day these sweet little birds will fly the nest and there we’ll be, trying to get to know each other again because we feel like strangers (if we even made it at all) but because I want my children to have healthy spousal relationships one day and guess who they’ll learn from? Us. We are the example they see. Last week I wrote about setting an example of self respect and care, and this goes right along with it. I want my daughter and son to learn to both treat their future spouses with reverence and to expect that reverence back. And, marriage and parenting are WORK. It doesn’t matter how in love you are or how incredible your relationship is, if you don’t tend to it, it’s not going to last. And I want my kids to know that. I want them to know it’s ok to buckle down and work it out when the going gets tough. That we won’t like each other every moment of every day, but at the end of the day we still love each other. That while not every moment is butterflies and rainbows, it’s important to make those moments happen too. My parents have been married 45 years. And I’ve been privileged to watch their relationship since my own birth. Nope, they haven’t gotten along every second. But they never quit working to make it through. They still haven’t. That is the example I want to set for my children. Unless there is some extenuating circumstance in which the relationship is emotionally or physically dangerous, it’s worth the work. And work it will be. But work that is absolutely worth doing.

So, my husband and I went on a date. I did my hair, put on the outfit I wore for our first ever date (or at least the skirt part of it), slapped some mascara on and off we went. I even blindfolded him for the three minute drive. Yes, it took longer to get ready than our actual date. But that’s ok. The coffee shop tables were all full, so we tried to sit outside. That was cold, so we had our date in the stale smelling car (but of course not until I had documented the event with a pic). And yes, it would have been a heck of a lot easier to sit at home. But we did it. We made the effort. And we will make the effort again, and again. Because it may sound cliche but it’s true. Anything worth having is worth fighting for.

SnoofyBee Changing Pad Review

img_1538**DISCOUNT CODE AHEAD!! I will only, ONLY ever feature products on my blog that I have personally sought out and use and love. My heart in reviewing products is to be able to test drive them for you mamas, and then if I deem them worthy of your love, I will procure a discount code so you can enjoy them also<3**.

Months ago, I discovered a product called the SnoofyBee and have been wanting to get one ever since. A SnoofyBee is this incredible product that keeps babies hands safely out of their diapers at changing time while simultaneously keeping them entertained. No, I have no idea why I waited this long to get one. Simply put, as I know many babies do, my wee ones each LOVE to turn into a rabid octopus at changing time. Arms, hands, legs and whatever toy is nearby are doomed for a poopy demise. I mean seriously how do they somehow seem to sprout six extra limbs suddenly?! Short of sitting on them I’ve been at a loss as to how in the world to keep them out of the mess at changing time. Clothing, toys, baby and me often get wiped out. But! Enter the SnoofyBee! Mine arrived this week, and all I can say is, HOW DID I EVEN GET THROUGH DIAPER CHANGES before! Mamas, you need this. Dads, you need this. Every parent grandparent aunt and uncle needs this. Seriously, it’s worth every penny and henceforth shall be my go to baby gift (and a cost effective one at that!). Please enjoy my demonstration below, then click here to shop and use code THEMAMAPLAYBOOK for 10% off!!!

 

Every Baby Is an Individual! And, Let them be Little

img_1335As I have said frequently, there is nothing like parenting to change your most carefully laid plans. It is astonishing how easily these tiny little humans change everything, and challenge literally everything that you thought you knew. Being a parent requires flexibility, humility and patience, and trust me that your beautiful little beings will work their completely unconscious hardest to make certain they teach you these lessons every day. Being a parent can be so overwhelming, here you are with this fragile new life doing everything you think is the best for them and questioning EVERYTHING you do. And then things seem to not be working, doubt enters your head and you are assaulted with a million different opinions as to what you’re doing wrong. Why won’t my baby sleep like that/eat this way/play like that?! Why aren’t they crawling/walking/talking yet? Well, there are no babies who are exactly alike. They each will develop in their own way on their own schedule. I CANNOT STRESS THAT ENOUGH. Just because one baby crawls at 7 months doesn’t mean there is necessarily anything wrong with the other baby who crawled at 11 months.

Two things that frustrate me intensely about our culture are the curve expectations placed on children and the competition that exists (even subconsciously!) among us mothers. When my twins were about 5 months old a friend nonchalantly asked me how far behind the curve twins normally are. While I’m certain she meant no harm, it sent me into a bit of a tailspin. Were they too behind?! Should they be doing more?! And please understand, I absolutely advocate intervention in serious cases of developmental delay, but the facts are that acute delays are not the norm and most of the time your baby is just fine.
img_1340So what if your baby started sitting up two months after your friends baby did?! Maybe your kid will talk first. Maybe they won’t. Chances are though that your baby is doing great, and that sweet little human is going to do things when they’re dang good and ready. A friend posted that her son was FINALLY accomplishing a milestone and my heart broke for her. Clearly something or someone had caused her to feel he was behind. Which he isn’t, at all. He’s simply doing things as he is ready. This should be celebrated, not judged.

img_1339Why do we push our babies and children so much?! You know, I am without doubt all for educational enrichment. I read to my babies, they listen to a wide variety of music and languages and I choose many toys based on their educational value. But I also let them chew on the books, listen to happy silly songs, and play with brightly colored rolling ducks. We dance and wave our arms and make silly noises. I believe teaching JOY is equally as important as learning the alphabet. They are learning every moment whether you are teaching them or not. But what are they learning? That they are competent and smart? That they are capable of learning anything they want and can actually enjoy doing so and become confident in the process? Or are they having it pounded into their wee heads that they aren’t learning enough, or as quickly as they should? That their friend is better/faster/smarter?img_1342

I don’t like the competition I see so often (especially on social media!) among mothers on whose child did what first. Of course I think every mother should see her child as amazing, (I talk more about that in this post, click here). But as possibly new and insecure mamas, we do not need to see our friends bragging (even if they don’t mean to cause harm!) about how their child is so superior and advanced and thus question if our own babies are doing ok. A friend posted a while back that after her baby had his pediatric checkup their doctor said her five month old was “basically functioning at the level of a year old baby” and that the doctor called him “Baby Thor”. This made me have to work with my head that my also five month old babies were doing alright since their doctor did not call them baby thors and they were definitely not functioning at a year old level. I call this type of thing “brag shaming”. And I’m sure this mama didn’t mean to, she was genuinely proud of her son as she should be. But I’d like to offer this for consideration. Be proud of your wee ones. But be sensitive to the fact that your seemingly innocent post about how advanced your kiddo is might make another mama question if her also absolutely perfect baby is doing ok.img_1341

And you know what? Your baby is only little once. While I FIRMLY support and believe in practicing involved parenting and actively teaching them, our culture has placed such a rush on growing them up fast and forcing them to become competent little humans as quickly as possible. (And I’m well aware this isn’t just our culture). I absolutely will teach my children respect, how to focus, self discipline, social decorum and how to behave politely as the situation may demand, but I will also let them shriek and run, play with abandon, and cry on my lap. They don’t need to practice algebra at two and play Mozart by three. If they end up doing so, great. But I’m not going to ruin their childhood by pushing them until they’re miserable. I was chatting with one of my piano student parents the other night and she shared that her daughters school wants to place her in the gifted program, and while they want to give her more, they’re not going to push her past what she wants to do. I have SO much respect for them. This child, she is balanced, she is wicked smart, she is motivated and driven, she is HAPPY. She has focus, confidence, and empathy well beyond her years. And her mother is wise in giving her as much as she wants without ruining her thirst for knowledge by shoving too much down her throat. This child is one of my best students. Never once has she said “that’s too hard” or “I can’t”. She’s happy and focused and a delight every lesson.

img_1336If a child is taught to love learning, without fear, and views new concepts as exciting and not scary, they’re far more likely to be motivated to push themselves to do more, to do better, in confidence and on their own, without having us ride them and make them miserable. A child is born looking at the world in wonder. We have a tremendous responsibility to teach them about this world without destroying that starry eyed fascination. It took a little while for my babies to crawl. Could I have done more tummy time, or pushed them harder so they would crawl faster? Absolutely. Did they crawl when they were ready? Of course they did! I now have speed demons blasting all over everything, my son just the other day went fearlessly four wheeling over rocks by the river. In my opinion the extra tears and stress of lots of tummy time wasn’t worth it. We did tummy time of course, but only as long as I could read to them and keep it a mostly happy experience while we did. I did not deem the frustration and intense tears to be worth them crawling a few weeks earlier.

img_1338Of course we cannot prevent all frustration. Not every learning experience will leave them filled with happiness and wanting more. But I believe that if they have this foundation of confident joy filled learning, they can handle the not so glorious moments.

I was homeschooled growing up. A tremendous sacrifice my mother made for her children, and a gift I will be forever grateful for. While ensuring I had a balanced education, she allowed me to pursue subjects I was passionate about and patiently allowed me to conquer those I was less than interested in as I grew. For example, for a while I was obsessed with phonics. I completed more phonics workbooks and projects than most people do in a lifetime. Math, on the other hand, was not my favorite. But she experimented until she found what I connected with, a way to learn that didn’t scare the pants off of me or make me feel stupid. And we did do tests, she prepared us for this real world of college testing and scary expectations. But because I had that foundation of joy, that love of learning, I was able to face the scarier real world and conquer it.

I firmly believe this concept also applies to emotional growth and understanding, but I’ll save that for another post.

img_1337In closing, my dear fellow mamas, please don’t allow our social media and culture to make you question your baby or yourself. We are all doing the best we can, trust in your child and allow them to bloom on their own schedule. They’re only little once, celebrate these moments and don’t allow fear to rob you (and your child!) of the joy of watching them grow and thrive according to their own personal schedule.

 

Mamas Have Needs Too?! Or, Self Care is Haaaaard

img_9806Self care is hard. As a mama, it’s literally almost impossible sometimes. They say you can’t pour from a cup that’s empty but sometimes as a mom that is just what you have to do. Sometimes my kids don’t sleep, so I don’t sleep, and you know what? When they wake up the next morning I don’t get to just ignore them while I catch up on my zzz’s! Nope! They need fed, diapers changed and someone to watch them so they don’t knock out a tooth or stab out each other’s eyes. And yep, I am that person!
Sometimes I don’t get that glass of water or get to pee in a timely fashion because my babies have needs that can’t wait. Call me crazy but it’s really hard to go to the bathroom when my son is screaming because he pooped his diaper and it’s burning his little butt. So I change his diaper, and then eventually, I get to pee. Typically with a kid on my lap (or two). And as you might know from my last post, (click here to watch my rant on sharing love not germs) I just finished having the stomach flu. And nope, motherhood didn’t ‘pause’ whilst I fought that nasty virus.
I used to lecture my mom on self care. I still do sometimes since her kids are adults and she still doesn’t care for herself as she should. But, being a mom myself, I get why she doesn’t. Someday my kids will be adults and I I’ll probably need the self care lecture because let’s face it mamas, decades of a habit is hard to break. img_9796
And you know, I chose to bring these little beings into the world, they didn’t really have a say in it. So I don’t think it’s unfair that their needs are put before mine. That doesn’t mean though that some days aren’t so hard I want to cry, and sometimes I just want to eat my dinner without it getting slapped to the floor or shoveling it in my mouth at a race rocket pace. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids, or that I don’t want them more than anything. It doesn’t make me a bad mom that I look at photos of women with their hair and makeup done, their cute jeans obviously freshly washed and feel a pang of absence of my self worth.
Motherhood is HARD. Do I love it? With all my heart. Is it worth it?! Without question! I wouldn’t trade being a mama for ANYTHING. But. It. Is. Hard. So hard. Being the primary caregiver to tiny humans is no joke. There are literally lives DEPENDING on you, 24/7! HUMAN. LIVES. Whether or not your child survives let alone thrives is all on YOU. That’s one heck of a privilege and responsibility y’all.

img_9677I’m trying to remember to do little bits of self care when I can. Having a third cup of coffee (even if it gets cold), taking the extra 30 seconds to not only rip the ponytail off my head before bed but actually brush my hair, putting on a quick show for the babies so I can wash my face without screaming in the background. These things seem small but mamas you know, those small things are the first to go when you’re prioritizing your moves like a military captain for efficiency.
This won’t be my last post on self care, so tell me, what do you find is YOUR biggest challenge as a mama in caring for you? Let me know in the comments!

Hang in there mamas, and go buy some wine, I prefer the big bottles. A glass may help (I find it heavenly, and yes you can have it even if you’re breastfeeding!!!!). But I’ll go off on that later.fullsizerender