A Time of Patience

I was reminded of my New Year’s Resolution over the weekend, when patience was the topic of Sunday’s homily at church. Back in January, I wrote about my mantra of “Less Hurry. Less Worry” and this passage (from a presentation I attended last year) is especially relevant for this time of year:

Life is a series of sprints and there’s a lot of rushing around. Downtime is a necessary time to re-charge to be able to bring energy to each “sprint” or challenge you may face.

We are all rushing and hurrying like crazy in preparation for the holidays. There is a lot of sprinting and stress that takes much of the joy away from this season. Similarly, I feel like there has been a lot of sprinting going on this week, re-grouping after being out of town for Thanksgiving and even just hitting the save button on this post SEVERAL times before having a bigger chunk of time to come back to it. It’s a whole lot of hurry, hurry, hurry. And all that hurrying can make me feel impatient!

Am I More Patient this Year?

Overall throughout the last year, I feel less hurried and at times more patient. However, I probably should ask my family if they would agree with that statement. I still can feel a tendency to over-multi-task instead of focusing on what’s most important at this one point in time. Being conscious of un-productive multi-tasking is the first step, right?

Some patience has been learned through schedule changes as of late. My husband has changed jobs and increased his commute, leaving me to fly solo with the kids in the morning. Instead of thinking he’s around to help (or not), I know it’s all me, so I have become more patient with my kids in the morning. Truthfully, we’ve also had several months of the school year under our belt, so they are also more adjusted to the weekly school routine too. Together we can help each other in the mornings.

The Waiting REALLY is the Hardest Part

As was mentioned in church on Sunday, patience is desperately needed this time of year. Our deacon showed pictures of holiday travel with LONG lines. Shopping on Black Friday or any holiday shopping can bring a LONG line. There’s a lot of waiting, and we all hate that, right?!

Today while waiting in line at a craft store, I was amused by a mom with two kids in front of me for a few reasons. First, I remember those days of shopping with a toddler and an infant all too well (see The BEST Line(s) to get out of a toy store). Now I am just the “older” mom whose kids are now in school (well, some of the time, anyway)! I sometimes share, “I know what you’re going through” lines of encouragement because I too remember those kind people who did the same to me a few years back. This conversation was just last year! Second, the older toddler was saying “bye, bye.”  When I observed her more closely, she was pointing at things and saying, “buy, buy!”  I laughed out loud and commented on this to her mom. Too funny, right? In this moment of waiting and being patient, I was able to engage with the party in front of me instead of being grumpy and sitting on my smartphone.

Ways to be more Patient to Make Waiting Easier

One phrase that comes up in this season of Advent is “waiting in joyful anticipation,” and I am reminded of the symbols and traditions that we use to help us wait – things like Advent calendars, Christmas Countdowns, or lighting candles on the Advent Wreath. This year we are lighting candles on a salt dough wreath that my daughter made in her religious education class. She feels so proud of it, and there is something very special about lighting a candle and enjoying a family dinner together. It makes us slow down a bit, and we look forward to lighting the next candle. Each day in December, we’ll change the Christmas countdown. Each week we’ll light another candle, helping us track the passage of time, which makes the waiting for Christmas a bit easier.

Is the season trying your patience? How do you handle waiting this time of year? Best wishes for some time to slow down, relax, and reflect this December!

Age Two – Take Two

Now that Daddy O. and I are in the throes of age two for the second time around (thus Age Two – Take Two), we can’t help but feel it’s a little easier. Some possible explanations:

  • Maybe we’ve honed our parenting skills for the toddler years, remembering what worked well for big sister’s two-year-old antics.
  • Maybe we’re just a little more laid-back this time around.
  • Maybe God has answered my prayers for patience.
  • Most likely it’s a combination of all of the above.

It’s true that little brother is different than big sister in many ways.  He’s much more talkative, a little more easy-going, more physical in terms of biting and hitting, and is definitely into trains, cars, and balls. Big sister is more than happy to tattle on him whenever he breaks a rule.  She is very black and white and likes things to go HER way when she plays with little brother, though they can be so sweet together (see my post One Thing that Surprised Me Most as a Mom for more about the brother-sister relationship). During moments of conflict, I tend to give them space to see if they’ll figure it out on their own, but intervene when I hear screaming and crying.

Big Sister and Little Brother Age 2

My Two Year Old Cutie-pies (and 4 Year Old Big Sister). I think they are pretending to be kitties. 

Just like his sister (and parents), Little Brother is prone to stubbornness. This trait can lead to monumental tantrums – especially during times of conflict as we have learned!  A few ways that we try to stop tantrums that seem to work:

  • Distraction.  While little brother cried & screamed on a car ride over the holidays, I quick yelled, “Look – Christmas lights out your side (of the car).” The shiny Christmas cheer magically quieted him down.
  • Food Bribe. Little brother and I were having a standoff at the grocery store.  All of our gear and big sister were loaded into a shopping card already.  He didn’t WANT to go in THAT cart.  I didn’t want to reload everything in HIS chosen cart.  We waited. He screamed. We waited some more.  I checked in with him to see if he was ready to join us, and he screamed some more.  I waited more. Finally, I offered him a granola bar that he could eat if he rode in Mom’s cart.  He finally agreed. Another kind mom came up to me, having witness this all unfold, and complimented me on how I handled the situation.  It was really kind of her! Don’t we ALL hate tantrums in public?!
  • Asking questions. After some crying and screaming, I’ll calmly ask little brother, “What do you want?  I can’t understand you right now. Can you use words?” This can typically help.
  • Get favorite blankie & paci.  We find his favorite blanket and pacifier to help him calm down.  At two and a half, he doesn’t use his paci THAT much (mostly at night), but it still gives him comfort. Our dentist and pediatrician have encouraged us to simply let him give it up when he’s ready, so for now the pacifier and favorite blanket bring some peace and quiet to the raging two-year-old.
  • Time and space.  Sometimes you just have to let it out! Little brother has been wanting to hear the end of songs when we drive home, which means sitting in the car.  Sometimes, I oblige and let him listen until the song is over.  One day with below zero temperatures, it wasn’t going to happen, so I carried him unwillingly inside. I gave him time to cry & scream by himself, and in a few minutes he was ready to return to calmness and fun.

I’m curious to see how we continue to navigate Little Brother’s second year.  As is common with kids, just when you think you have things figured out, things can change! How do you cope with the terrible twos and tantrums?

In the spirit of #ThrowbackThursday, here are some older posts I wrote about parenting:

Have a great day and almost TGIF!

5 Tips for Parents

 

I recently read a post from The Bump Life called The Best Parenting Advice I’ve Received, and I think it’s a great list of 5 key pieces of advice.  I just pulled the toy switcheroo in my house, and it worked like a charm.  And I completely agree, getting out of the house every day makes you feel good – like you accomplished something!

I thought of a few more tips that came to mind:

1. Shower and fix your hair every day.  This sounds kind of lame, but I think it ties back to taking care of yourself.  When I take just 15 minutes to get myself ready in the morning, I feel much more awake and ready to take on the day.  When we do finally make it out of the house, I feel better looking good – even better if I put on at least some makeup.  I remember watching a daytime talk show encouraging women to get ready & dress nice just for YOU.

2. Do a load of laundry or some chore every day.  With rarely getting uninterrupted time to get housework done, I break it up into smaller chunks of time, so I’m not overwhelmed. Today my daughter helped me dust and water the plants.  Yay!

3. Do a few things the night before! This can go for packing lunches, picking out clothes, packing the car for a trip, etc.  It is so much easier to get things accomplished with a quiet house that will help streamline the morning routine.

4. Take a timeout. It is perfectly acceptable to put your child in a safe place and leave them there for a few minutes to calm down.  Parents can take their own timeouts too….again it goes back to taking care of yourself for your own health and sanity.

5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I sometimes aspire to be the perfect parent – to do whatever I can to make my children the best people they can be.  This can be exhausting of course, so give yourself permission to just “show-up.” Sure, there are days when the TV is on longer than I would like, or I may not have handled my daughter’s tantrum in the best way, but I know that there will be PLENTY of opportunities to try something different the next day or during the next tantrum.  Parents – like kids – learn through trial and error, and there’s not one perfect way of raising children.  Do what works for you and your family and just make it through the day.  No matter how many tough moments there were, I try to reflect on the sweet, million dollar moments that I had the privilege of experiencing that day.

Want more advice or tips? Check out these links below:

Advice for Parents-to-be from Go Mama O

How to Find a 25th Hour in Your Day – Forbes Women

Top 5 Things I Learned from my Kids

  1. Patience, patience, patience.  I have to credit my almost 3-year-old for many lessons in patience!  There are moments where I am still learning to be patient.  Despite your best efforts, the world certainly does not revolve around the time schedule that you desire when you are a parent, so plan accordingly.Playing outside with my daughter
  2. Spontaneity.  Sure, let’s stop and smell the flowers or pretend we’re puppies.  I’m usually up for anything! It is easier to go along with kid’s ideas than to force what you want to get done on them.
  3. This too shall pass. Sigh.  We all have those moments we’d like to fast forward.  For me it’s definitely tantrum time.  The screeching just grates on my ears.  However, the bad times pass, and we can still manage to share some good times in that very same day. This also relates to #1.
  4. Get outside.  There are a lot of health benefits from simply going outside.  Check out the link from the National Wildlife Federation. It seems that my children nap and sleep better when we get outside.
  5. Unconditional Love. Since having kids, I realize that my capacity to love others is far bigger than I ever imagined. Nothing says I love you like the dirty work of parenting: 3:00 a.m. feedings / wake ups, consoling a sick child, blow out diaper changes, and messy meal times (to name a few).  My children have brought so much joy and a whole lot of love to our family.  We are so blessed!