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Parenting requires a lot, and I do mean A LOT, of patience.  It requires the kind of patience that doesn’t come naturally for most of us.  It calls for the kind of patience that definitely requires a conscious effort.  Do you have the patience for parenting?

I’ve always considered myself a pretty patient person.  There are times that I can be extremely patient but, of course, there are other times when I just don’t have it in me.  I think we are all a bit like that.  Patience has always been a big part of my daily life, even before I became a parent.  My career, before becoming a stay-at-home mom, required a lot of patience.  I dealt with the public during times of trial, during times of anger and frustration.  It required that I listen patiently to my clients and gather the patience necessary to work with them to find a solution.  My clients, given that they were going through something frustrating and annoying, were, needless to say, not very patient with me or the process.  They expected results yesterday and were quick to become agitated and angry.  It took a lot of conscious effort to find the patience necessary to get the job done.  I prided myself in the patience I had under fire.  When I was pregnant with Maya I thought that my job skills would come in handy during parenting, I mean how could a child be any more difficult to deal with than some of my clients :)

Well, I quickly found out that being a parent requires more patience than I have had to use in any other area of my life.  There are days I question my ability to do this job.  Days when I question if I have the patience to make it through to bedtime.  Parenting is hard work.  Parenting a toddler is more challenging than anything else I have ever done.  It takes more skills, patience and creativity than any other job I have ever had.  It is also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  One little smile, a big hug or even just hearing the work “mommy” makes it all worth it and makes those moments when my patience was lacking simply disappear.

Keeping my cool under pressure can be tough sometimes.  I admit that I have my moments when I’ve had enough and yell because I just can’t take it anymore.  I’ve started with time outs when necessary to help Maya learn about consequences and they seem to working for the most part.  But we still have those days when nothing works.  On those really rough days when I feel like there is only one tiny string holding it all together there are a few things I try that help keep my cool, like:

  • Breathe and consider the action.  Is it just me be impatient or is this really something worth getting upset over?
  • I try to engage my daughter in activities that I know don’t usually end with trouble.  For example, my daughter loves coloring, so if things are going south I’ll suggest a coloring session or a painting session to help ease both our nerves.
  • We head out.  Some days our only option is to run an errand or do a little shopping but getting out of the house helps us both.  A change of scenery can work magic for a frustrated toddler and a frustrated mom.
  • I try to have at least 2 or 3 little adventures planned for each week.  Fun activities that can be used to encourage good behavior.  Things like our weekly playdate with our good friends, or a trip to the zoo or park if the weather is nice, or a mommy and me class.
  • If all else fails we spend a little time doing our own thing.  I’ll do a little house cleaning and she’ll watch a movie, play with her toys or read a book.

The nice thing about these days of toddlerhood are that toddlers are very distractable, change from being really mad and frustrated to be happy go lucky again in no time flat.  So even in those moments when things aren’t going so well and we are both frustrated I know that better times and big smiles are just around the corner.  I have found that keeping my cool and being patient are keys to successful, frustration-free, days for both of us.  It is sometimes easier said than done, but I do my best and that’s all we can really do in this job that has no handbook.  At the end of the day when my daughter and I are snuggling up together reading a bedtime story I know I’m doing something right.

What tricks to do you use when frustrations are high and patience is low?  How do you and your kids get through those tough days?

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