Patient Mothering on Bad Days

May 15, 2010

It has been one of those days… Two failed nap attempts. A toddler who constantly wants to nurse.  The perpetual sounds of cranks and whines. There seemed to be nothing that would please him.

I kept it together pretty well, but late this afternoon I finally lost my patience. I missed the mark when it came to my job as a mother. It kills me to not be the epitome of the gentle, attached mother that I want to be (and that I usually am). But today (and really, all week) things have just been off track. He is extra whiny and needy, and my patience is stretched thin.

On days like this I could use more ideas for grounded, gentle and patient parenting. A few things that work for us so far…

What helps me set the tone:

  • A prayer to start the day, and intermediate prayers asking for God’s mercy throughout the day.
  • Beginning the day with a playful/joyous spirit.
  • Really focusing on him for the first hour of the morning (after my coffee is made, of course!)
  • Getting enough to sleep. Lately it’s been hard for me to go to bed on time.

What helps me try to get both of us back on track (or what helps me keep my sanity):

  • Taking the time to pay 100% attention to him for a while. Read books, play outside – whatever he wants is what we do.
  • On the flip side, letting him watch TV. Sometimes it is either this or I might jump ship.
  • If my husband is home, I am a big fan of letting them have one-on-one time. This is definitely a win-win for everyone.
  • Take a trip to the mall or Target. Take a walk. Water the plants together.

What are your ideas? If you have older kids, tell me: does your patience grow as time goes on? I sometimes wonder if I would be more patient if I had more perspective on just how young Calvin really is. I hope I don’t come off as sounding horribly impatient; my husband always tells me that he is amazed by my patience with Calvin. But when that patience cracks… boy, do I hate that.

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2 Responses to “Patient Mothering on Bad Days”

  1. James Says:

    There’s nothing wrong with running out of patience. Trust how you feel but override your instincts to react when they don’t align with your ideals.

    I don’t yet have much experience dealing with the neediness of a toddler, but I have clear memories of being an unruly toddler myself. Here’s what I remember working on me:

    * When I was fussy, my parents would give me a pillow and tell me to beat it up. Not only did this improve my mood (it was fun reigning down blows with my tiny fists of toddler fury and showing off to my parents/audience), I almost always took a nap afterward.

    * When I was clingy/needy and being rude or impatient about it my parents would make me leave the room until I could be nice. If this made me mad, I was welcome to take my frustration out on a pillow or two.

    * In general, I either had to be nice to my parents or be by my self. They rarely punished me; I was still allowed to play with toys, etc. However I could only gain the acknowledgement and attention I desired from them if I wasn’t a jerk about it.

    • Liz Says:

      We will probably do something similar to your ideas once he is a little older – I think this is still a little above his head. And that’s one reason why I get so frustrated about running out of patience – his needs are legitimate but there are instances where I just feel that I’ve run out of steam and can no longer meet them.


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