I’ve always been a dreamer. Oh yes .. I was going to change the world. I was going to raise the best children ever to walk the earth. I was never going to make the same mistakes OTHER parents made. No way.
Then I had children.
My first lesson in patience happened immediately while sitting alone with two crying infants for months at a time. I often felt pretty helpless. I mean, you can’t just leave two crying infants and go for a run.
People always ask me how I managed twin infants and I always respond the same way … “With a lot of tears.”
Staying calm as a parent may come easier for some more than others. It hasn’t always been easy for me.
Yeah, where’s the handbook?
I call it Parenting from the Heart.
I’ve learned so many lessons on this topic in the last six years. I hope to pass a few on to other parents who might be struggling with keeping their cool.
In fact, it is my great wish that parents would read this blog and change the way they are parenting so that they, too, can be the change they wish to see in the world.
This week, I asked on my Facebook page how you stay calm as a parent and boy did you deliver! Read all of the responses on Facebook. And, please add your own ideas to the comments below as well. Here are just 25 Ways to Stay Calm as a Parent — some are mine, some are yours!
- Own your Nos. There are times when I say no without even thinking and then one no leads to another no and soon we’re in a vicious cycle. I’ve learned that by really thinking before I respond I feel authentic power when I do say no — or yes. Try hard to not rush to saying no to your child just because of inconvenience.
- Be open to Yes. There’s a ton of power in the word YES. Y-E-S. Conscious Yeses are beautiful. Conscious Yeses transform families. Conscious Yeses are cause for celebration.
- Read. Read everything you can that makes you feel good and that reminds you to remain calm. For me, it started with Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller but it’s hardly ended there. I have a whole nightstand filled with books that I pull out when I need a pick-me-up or as a reminder to remain calm and relaxed as a parent. Some are parenting books. Some are inspirational books. Others are just beautiful and get me thinking creatively, which is the best way to parent, in my experience.
- Solitude. I suspect that many of us who struggle with staying calm in the chaos also struggle with noise. Some people — extroverts — are happy with a ton of noise. I am not. Silence is often the medicine we need to replenish and rejuvenate ourselves and yet it may be the hardest to make happen. There are many other ways to stay at peace.
- Take a deep breath. Never ever punish when angry. Just don’t. Heed this advice and you’ll always be a calm parent. Separate the kids and then walk away. Step outside. Or, go to your room and close the door and lay on your bed until you are calm. Run down to the basement. Put on some music in your ear buds. Something. Anything. Just breathe and calm down before you even attempt to react.
- Get up early. Having time to yourself is absolutely essential. Period.
- Go to bed early. Being fully rested is key. You can’t be a good parent if you are too tired to think, too tired to come up with creative responses and solutions or too tired to ignore the small things.
- Get a hobby. I write therefore I am. For others, it’s cooking or sewing or quilting or crocheting. Even more are finding a love in photography, baking, blogging, or gardening. We all have that one thing that just fills us up, that gives us a different purpose in life. Devote yourself to yours.
- Energize yourself. This is my all-time favorite thing to do in my day. Choose the things that you love and that make you happy and do them every day. In my e-course, I’ll share my own list.
- Ignore the small stuff. What’s that book say, it’s all small stuff? I don’t know about that. But I do know that some parents — myself included — can get wrapped up in micromanaging their children and their every move. Delegate some of that worry and stress to the Universe. this includes NOT arguing back with a child.
- Think of the Big Picture. A few mentioned this on the Facebook page as important and I agree. Will this tiny infraction of behavior like drinking the bathtub water and spitting it out matter in the long run? No. Will it delay bedtime, yes. So what. Move on. Nothing to see here.
- Clean. When your children are frustrating the bejeezus out of you, clean. Do those things that you need to do and work off the frustrations by cleaning. This is the only time that I stress the importance of cleaning. It gives you something productive to do instead of micromanaging the children. While your at it, think of the chores they will have to do as a result of their bad behavior. Some call it an uh-oh chore. I just call it a chore to help fill my bucket back up.
- Speak your mantra. Each of us has phrases that give us comfort, sayings that we can say over and over again in our heads until the difficult moment passes. Some of you suggested mantras like “I am the adult” or “Mommy is the greatest!” I have a whole list of mantras that I use.
- Exercise. Walk. Do yoga. Run. Whatever you can do to feel good on the inside will make parenting from the heart a lot better.
- Slow down. Don’t plan a ton of things because the minute you want to get a long list of things done is the very minute that you will find things blow up. Stress is what causes us to lose our cool so the less we have to stress about, the less crazy we’ll become.
- Get silly. I’ve said this before but doing something entirely out of the ordinary is a great way to turn things around quickly. Tell jokes. Just act nutty. You’ll laugh. SING. DANCE. Laugh. Deal with the consequences later, when everyone’s thinking more clearly.
- Talk it out. Establish a talk-it-out rule. In this house, we talk out our problems with soft words, not our hands and not by yelling. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
- Role model. If you want your children to grow up calm, cool and collected than keep that in your head at all times. What you say to your children becomes what they hear in their heads. That’s powerful stuff to consider.
- Eat. There have been many times when I’ve been starving and not taking care of myself. Stop and make sure you’re not feeling the result of low blood sugar.
- Set your rules. This is a really big deal and something I didn’t really do early on. The sooner your establish your household rules the better off you will be as a parent. Our rules are on our refrigerator so that when a rule is broken we can immediately point to it and say look here, you’ve broken Rule No. 2, keep your hands and feet to yourself. When you are confident about the rules in your house, you are confident in enforcing those rules.
- Don’t set too many rules. Seriously. Children are still learning and experimenting. We can’t expect them to never make mistakes. To stay calm, stick to no more than five rules at a time and make those the important ones. Let little infractions go by with teachable moments rather than discipline.
- Change your routine. If you find yourself in a stressed out rut, perhaps it’s time to change things around and do something exciting and different. A change in fresh air or environment is enough to keep me feeling calm and peaceful a lot longer than going through the motions of the same-old, same-old.
- Be Grateful. Many of you mentioned that reminding yourself of how special it is to have a child is the best way to calm yourself down. Savoring the little moments. Being grateful for the time we have with our children. These are all big, heart-filled reminders of what it really means to be a parent, even when times are challenging.
- Replenish your spirit. For some this means prayer or meditation. For others it might be sinking into a hot bath at night. Taking care of your spirit is as important as taking care of your body. Whatever you use to de-stress and center yourself, do it often.
- When all else fails, hug it out. I love this one that came up on the Facebook page. Too often what our children need — and what we need in return — is that close connection and touch of the ones we love. My very spirited daughter responds positively to touch and so we snuggle often. So, instead of yelling or hurting, hug it out. If only we could pass this tip along to the rest of the world, right?
There are certainly many other ways to stay calm, cool and collected as a parent and I expect anyone who reads this post to add their own positive ideas that are meant to help inspire parents. These are ideas I wish I had on that second and third month home with twin infants, and again when those infants moved into their terrible twos. But, no matter where you are on your parenting journey, I suspect this list will at least be worth keeping, for one of those days. You can now download and print this list for yourself to keep close at hand.