Sometimes I wonder if we are ever blessed with more children how I will adjust. One child alone can try my patience something fierce. I don’t understand how my thirty-plus years of life has produced a patience level that a toddler can bring to it’s knees! Motherhood is good for many things, but learning to remain calm and peaceful must be near the top of the list.
I’m attempting to be a calm mom now, with only one! Here are things I’ve found helpful for practicing being a peaceful mother:
Get outdoors • This is probably the solution to everything that is hard in parenting. It’s the reason that I bought snow pants and rain boots and every warm weather item so early this year. Being outdoors somehow returns my sanity, helps me take some deep breaths, and reminds me that the world is huge and whatever my current problem is shall pass. I enjoy hiking in the woods or taking long walks around our neighborhood, but even standing in the backyard for fifteen minutes helps.
Pray • This should probably be first on the list. The Jesus prayer has helped me many times throughout my life and certainly comes to my aid in tense moments of toddlerdom. I’ve written about the other prayers I love for children. And I find that thanking God for the gift of your child can help soothe away frustrations.
Make alone time • I think mothers everywhere find this a magical and elusive commodity. True alone time: where there’s someone else watching your child and you can do what you’d like to do for a bit is delightful! My husband is sweet to make sure this happens from time to time, because I don’t often hire a babysitter so I can read my latest book at the coffee shop.
I’ve also found that making alone time is necessary. I get up an hour before my daughter so I can sip my cup of tea, write these words, or read a book. I also don’t do chores during nap time if I can help it. For one, daughter loves doing chores–it’d be a shame to deprive her of mopping time with mama. And two, I can vacuum while she’s awake, but I generally can’t finish a chapter of a book. Three, we need some relaxation alone every day to help with our peaceful presence during awake time!
Hug when upset • Okay, this probably seems a little woo-woo or weird, but I’ve actually found it very effective. When we’re struggling to transition through activities and she’s not cooperating, I can feel my blood pressure rising. Before I say something I’ll regret, I say “Mama needs a cuddle now”. Daughter is usually very willing to comply (especially if it means she can stop trying to put her coat/mittens/hat/shoes on). Before you know it we’re both smiling and the hug usually turns into a bear hug of laughter on the floor. Which brings me to the next one…
Find things to laugh about • The fact is: kids are hilarious. They say funny things, do funny things, and are endlessly curious. This can drive us bananas, or make us giggle. I like to stockpile the funny moments so that when I’m irritated I can recall how she yells “Joseph!” to her icon of St. Joseph of Arimethea whenever she walks into her bedroom.
Take pictures and look at them • Far too often we take a million pictures on our easily accessible phones, and then never do anything with them. (i have a few ideas of what to do with all those pictures) I love to scroll back through to the little baby photos. Instantly I’m not upset, and in fact, I’m desperate to be the most kind and peaceful mother because OH MY GOODNESS SHE IS GOING TO BE GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL NEXT WEEK! I HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO!
These are all the things I’m practicing to help be the kind of mom I want to be. The one who responds calmly and peacefully in the face of tears, resistance, defiance, poop, loss, anger, and any other hard things my child throws my way. I won’t always (or even often) be this mom, but I sure am working my hardest to grow patience and peacefulness!
What helps you be calm with your children? What does your ideal mom-self look like?