I am not a patient person by nature. And Motherhood has magnified this particular weakness of mine ten fold.
Ok. Maybe a gabazillion fold.
Times infinity. Plus one.
But even though I have a long way to go, I have also come a long way. If you struggle with patience, I hope you’ll glean something from the tricks I’ve employed to keep my sanity.
Just wanting to be more patient isn’t enough. Most of us want our house to be cleaner or we want to get in shape, but wanting doesn’t make things happen. We need to focus. So take a week and focus on practicing patience.
For example, I’ve been doing a Bible study on patience and journaling each day about how well I keep my frustrations at bay. Search google for what the Bible says about patience and anger, along with your Bible concordance, and you surely will be challenged. I also have a chart on my refrigerator where my kids can mark how well I did for the day. Kids are great at accountability.
2. Recognize Your Frustration
Too often we have fully given in to our impatience before we recognize it. By then, we’re no longer thinking rationally and we’re much less likely to act and speak in love. The earlier we can recognize when we’re becoming impatient the easier it will be for us to calm ourselves down and control our emotions. Be honest and open about your weakness, seek accountability from your husband or close friend. The quicker you are to confess your weaknesses, the easier it will be to conquer them.
3. Recognize That Acting Out Frustration Is Pointless
When I notice that I’m becoming impatient, I remind myself of James 1:19-20
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
It’s such an excellent reminder that the fruit of my frustration is bound to be rotten.
4. Identify Frustrating Situations
What situations tend to frustrate you the most? Running late for events? Kids waking up too early? The need to repeat instructions to a child? Write them down. Keep a running list. Identify trends. If we can anticipate a frustrating situation, we can work to counteract our emotions.
5. Prevent Frustrating Situations
Now that I’ve identified my most frustrating circumstances, I can think about ways to avoid becoming impatient.
I find I get impatient a lot when we are running late. The obvious remedy here is to get started MUCH earlier. Even after 7 years of motherhood, I forget how long it takes small children to get ready to go somewhere. I need to begin getting them going well in advance…even if it means taking the chance that their hair or clothes get messed up before we actually leave and I need to fix it again. The extra work is worth avoiding the likely frustration.
6. Take Time Out
Two year old’s aren’t the only ones who need time out. If I feel like my emotions are getting the best of me, I’ll tell my kids that mommy needs time out and I’ll either send them to their room to play or I’ll put a video on and I’ll go in the other room to calm down.
7. Ignore It
Sometimes the best thing to do is just ignore whatever frustrating activity your kids are doing and redirect to something else. If we’re not going to respond in love, perhaps we should just move on.
8. Fake it Til You Make It
Here’s another silly tactic that totally works. If you’re losing it, pretend you’re being featured in a tv show and every word is being aired across the nation or will be viewed at your church on Sunday. Odds are, you’ll get your emotions under control rather quickly.
This might sound crazy, but sometimes, if I have no other options, I just pretend I’m patient. I basically pretend I’m up for an Oscar and do my best impression of a sweet, grandma preschool teacher. Sometimes all my frustration being channeled into acting, allows me to calm down and then truly feel relaxed again.
9. Pray. A lot.
This is a method of first resort. When I wake up in the morning I pray for a patient spirit. When I begin to feel frustrated, I pray for patience. If I’m having a hard time, I often stop and have my children pray for me.
It is also important to pray for wisdom. None of these tactics is perfect all the time. Pray not only for patience, but for the best response to your children and your own emotions.
An added thought by Lindsay…
10. Review your Mission Statement
When you feel a frustrating situation coming on, take the opportunity to step back and review your mission (if you have a mission statement in written form, post this in an obvious place that you could review quickly). What is your goal in mothering? What kind of example do you want to lay before your children? Take a moment to reflect on the fact that your desire is to nurture and disciple, love and train them to love the Lord. How does my actions reflect on the love of Christ?
Time To Take Action
Let’s all work together today to identify situations that make us impatient and ideas for counteracting our emotions.
If we each share an idea or two, we can all learn from our experiences and wisdom and we’ll be one step closer to being the patient mothers we long to be.