I wished this Mother’s Day I could receive a lifetime supply of Patience with my children! Can you imagine something like a Patience Spray that we mothers could use at the first signs of irritability, frustration, disappointment, or anger? A charming bottle with the following instructions: spray twice every time you feel like yelling at your children or impulsively react to them just to regret later. Side effects: start to respond calmly and respectfully to any daily adverse or upsetting situation.
I am sure that a Patience Spray could have made my stay-at-home-mom days much more pleasant in these past 4 years. I wished I had it when my 3-year-old threw a comb inside the toilet, and we had to spend around $200 for a plumber to unclog it. And when he threw his sisters’ coins inside, again, the toilet. I wished I had this spray when I discovered a small bottle of bubbles inside my toaster and another time when my daughter spilled a milkshake all over my car. And all those times my kids were pushing or trying to hurt each other when I was on the phone or talking to a grown-up or when they interrupted me with a request, a complaint or something they couldn’t wait to share with me. I really, really wished I had the spray when my kids were potty training, especially the day my daughter peed all over her bookshelf and the new rug. I didn’t have the spray and I lost control, and then I felt guilty afterward and I regretted it too.
If you are a mother, you know what I am talking about and I am sure you have stories like this to share with me. Right? But, before you even start, let me break the news: I am afraid our small children will keep doing things like this no matter how loud we can yell at them, how many times we send them to time out or take away their privileges. Patience on the other hand, even though we can’t receive it as a Mother’s Day gift, we can keep developing just like we can learn a new skill: with courage, practice and repetition, if we choose to.
My choice is made and I invite you to join me in the “non-yeller mom journey.” Be aware it will surely involve failures and time before we master it. But what will keep us going when we fail and think it is impossible? In my case, I will remember how I am their role model and how I want them to learn with me how to regulate their emotions when facing adversities. My goal is that everybody in my family experiences being upset and angry or disagreeing with each other without the need to yell or raise their voices. You may say I am a dreamer, but would it be amazing to live in a world with people just like that?
So now I invite you to create your personal Patience Spray. For some of us, it might be exercising every day. For others, a daily meditation, mindfulness or breathing exercises. Some mothers will find more balance when attending monthly moms night out or finding a support system to surround them. Others will find that being away from the kids from time to time will be effective in recharging their “Patience battery.” There is no single answer so we can pick and choose the right ingredients of our “spray”, the one that will help us have peace of mind.
I am happy to share some of my ingredients. I hope it inspires you to pick yours, and I request we support each other on this patience journey. If you are already a patience master, please, be our mentor!
Set a Goal and Pick Accountability Partners
I set a goal to be more patient and a non-yeller mother. I found it important to have an accountability partner to help me remember my commitment when I have setbacks. In my case, my own children got this role once I shared with them that I am working on being more patient and not yelling at them. Now, at the first signs of getting upset and raising my voice, they say: “Breath, mom! You cannot yell”. Mom friends and partners make good accountability partners too. Pick somebody and share.
What is Causing Me to Be Impatient?
Sometimes I am upset at other things or people and I end up taking it out on the kids. I found it helpful to ask myself “What I am really upset about?” and practice to distinguish it. Is it tiredness, sickness, unrealistic expectations (kids will be ready in just 30 minutes to go to school), failure to plan and organize my day, displaced anger? I can identify it most of the time but sometimes it is too late. The goal is that, with practice, I can catch it right away and avoid going from 0 to 100 just to regret it later.
Saying Sorry and Recommitting to the Goal
I have been saying sorry to my kids when I yell. Sometimes, I fear that after so many “sorries” they will stop forgiving me and just label me as a yeller, grumpy mother. But I am also hopeful that, with time, my ability to regulate my emotions and remain patient will become stronger.
I share with them that I am learning this new skill and that from time to time will be making mistakes. When it happens, though, I will apologize and recommit to patience or chose a different way to respond in the future.
Creating a Tool Box and an Emergency Plan
When the kids push my buttons I like to breath, pay attention to my physical reaction and identify why is that triggering me. I tend to share how I am feeling with them and how what they do makes me feel or the impact on other people. I have tried to ROAR instead of yelling but it didn’t work well. Now, I have been trying to say the word “Bubbles”. It is our secret sign that things are about to get ugly.
Taking about ugly, PMS is a time of the month that things get out of control for me, so I tend to have an emergency plan for those days. Might be a movie day at home or more time in front of the TV. It can be a good time for a neighbor or grandma to hang out with the kids a couple hours, or invite a close friend for a playdate, go to the gym and let the kids spend a couple hours at the kids care. Whatever is available to avoid yelling situations.
Good luck, mamas! I hope someday I can see all of us living in a non-yeller world. There, my baby boy throws a comb inside the toilet, clogs it and I calmly say: “Let’s use another bathroom until the plumber can fix it. And remember, my love, that toilets just like pee, poo and toilet paper.” And when he throws a bubble container inside the toaster… “Toasters are just for bread, my love.”