Am I the only one, or are there any other mothers out there who have at some point lost patience with their children?
I’ve talked with enough Moms to know that this is not an uncommon problem.
As homeschool Moms, we have the privilege of having our children at home with us and experiencing the rich rewards that homeschooling yields. This lifestyle has been a true blessing for my family, and I have a difficult time picturing our life any other way.
However, I do have the occasional day when it seems that my buttons are being pushed – sometimes all at once – and it’s all I can do not to sprout horns and a tail.
Some days I’m more successful than others…sigh.
I really don’t want my children’s memories of their childhood to include an unhappy, irritable, shouting mother. That is not who God created me to be, and that is not the mother He intended for my children.
These are a few strategies I’ve gleaned from other Moms over the years that often help me to cope during moments of frustration.
- Pray without ceasing. In the morning before I see my children. At the breakfast table with my children. When we pull out the math book. When children won’t stop annoying each other. When it’s only 10:00 AM and I’m looking up the number for my local school district. When… (Get the idea?)
- Go to bed early! This is a hard one for me and something I continue to work on, but when I discipline myself to do it, my children and I are rewarded with smooth, pleasant days. I am such a kinder, gentler person when I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep.
- Control my tongue. I once read in a little parenting booklet, “Let every one of your words spoken to your children be lined with the silver threads of love and kindness.” Unfortunately I cannot recall the author, but wouldn’t this be a beautiful and wise prayer for the beginning of each day? I also like to remember, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1) If I can muster up a gentle answer, it is often my own wrath that is diminished.
- Put myself in time out. If I feel like I’m about to lose it, it is sometimes necessary to announce to my children that Mommy needs some cooling down time. I’ve locked myself in the bathroom, sneaked out into the garage with a couple of Hershey’s kisses, and stepped out onto our back patio for fresh air. I’ve even stuck my head in the refrigerator, and amazingly it helps to calm me down and clear my frustration. Go ahead and laugh, but it works! Sometimes taking a time out just isn’t possible, especially if you have babies or young children. If that’s the case for you, then I encourage you to try another of these strategies instead.
- Take three deep breaths or simply count to ten before reacting to the situation. And employ strategy #1 while you’re at it.
- Cuddle up on the couch and read a book. If I’m pulling my hair out, then that could be a sign that it’s time to close up the books and declare it storytime. I do not regret a single moment that I’ve spent curled up with my children reading a good story together, even if it meant that we fell behind a day in math.
- Sing a song. It doesn’t matter if you think you can sing or not. Just do it. Sing a hymn, praise song, children’s song, silly song or whatever you know. Just make sure it’s uplifting, joyful, fun, or all of the above. If your kids join in, that’s great. If not, keep on singin’. It will do wonders for everyone’s mood – particularly yours.
- Go outside. When the going gets tough, the tough head for the great outdoors. If things are going awry in our school day, sometimes I’ll pick up school and take it outside. Giving my children the freedom to run off excess energy while I depressurize on the patio swing can do wonders for my students and for myself. After a few minutes of recess, sometimes I’ll continue our lessons outside. The youngers can play while I work individually with my oldest on the swing. When he’s finished with his assignment, he is rewarded with more outdoor playtime while one of my youngers sits with me for her one-on-one lesson time.
- Ask myself questions. When my children are getting on my very last nerve, there are some important questions I should ask myself:
“Are they truly being disobedient or disrespectful, or are they simply being kids?”
“Will this matter twenty years from now?”
“What kind of response from me will be most edifying to my child?”
Don’t get me wrong. I still fail much more often than I’d like to admit, but I know that if I continue to yield myself moment by moment to what God wants, He will grow the fruits of patience, kindness, gentleness, and love in me in such a way that they will spill over into the lives of my children.