And when I returned my son was reaching into the pantry on his tippy toes. Oh man, I knew exactly what was about to happen before it even happened. Unfortunately, I was about 6 feet too far away to stop him from destroying my beautiful clean kitchen right before my very eyes.
He reached so desperately for the playdoh in the pantry, and in doing so, he gingerly edged a giant bag of Jasmine rice to it’s tipping point off the shelf.
The bag plummeted from the pantry shelf like a lead weight sinking to the bottom of the ocean. The 15 pound bag of rice now coated the entire kitchen floor. Tiny pieces of rice sat under the stove, under the refrigerator and crunching beneath the bottoms of my feet—all one million pieces of it.
That’s when I lost it.
It was one of those days when you try so hard to do everything right, yet everything goes wrong. You get up early to cook breakfast and pack lunches only to see your child take one bite because “It doesn’t taste right.” You spend time playing chasing games around the house only to have your child fall down get hurt and spiral into an unthinkable point-of-no-return meltdown. You fold all the laundry only to have your child knock it off the table moments later.
You do all these things–and more–despite the fact that it feels pointless.
The rice was just the breaking point. We all know that I didn’t lose it because of the spilled rice. I lost it because sometimes motherhood feels like a thankless job.
This is a job where you are pushed and pushed and pushed to your maximum level of patience, only to be pushed even further. It’s a crazy cycle that’s like bad 80’s music on repeat.
5 Steps to Becoming a More Patient Parent.
Of course we all want to be a patient mom. We want to be the mom who reacts calm and poised and positively to every parenting situation imaginable. We want to be the mom who has it altogether.
While I don’t have it completely together (Does anyone?), I am more patient now than I was one hour ago.
1. Count to ten, start again.
Yep. Count to ten. Aloud. This forces your mind to focus on something besides the trigger. Then readdress the issue at hand—start again.
2. Connect, the redirect.
Make eye contact. Hug. Touch noses. Connecting helps you remember the important relationship you are building as a parent. Then redirect your child to a better activity or behavior.
3. Eat, don’t speak.
Thirst and hunger have a huge impact on patience, yet I’m guilty totally ignoring these two basic necessities. Why am I not taking care of myself?
4. Review, know the child’s point of view.
It’s so easy to forget the child’s point of view. Review the situation, then imagine the child’s point of view. When I put myself in my son’s shoes, it’s easy for me to see knocking over the bag of rice was an accident.
5. One hour from now.
I often say to myself, “In an hour from now will this matter?” In the grand scheme of things, will a spilled bag of rice really mean anything? Probably not.
All that rice on the floor.
After I was done having my own tantrum over rice, I found my son crying in the corner of the kitchen with his hands covering his eyes. I walked over to him, squatted down to his level, and said, “Son, I’m sorry I yelled at you.” Peaking between his fingers at me, he hesitated for a moment.
I felt awful.
A few minutes later, he pulled his hands from his eyes and extended them towards me for a big ‘ole hug. We connected. We made peace. And we cleaned up the rice together.
Well, most of it. The five hundred pieces of rice under the oven still remain. And they will probably stay there for another 2 years.
Who has time to clean under an oven?
I’ll save my patience for another task.
Want more on motherhood?
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- 7 Things Resilient Mothers Do Differently
- When Motherhood Feels Heavy, Remember This…
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