Monday, March 31, 2014

Patience is a work in progress

As the second oldest of a large brood of cousins I have been surrounded by (and often in charge of) lots of babies and kids from a very young age. I mean..... what kid from a large extended family wasn't sent outside to play with their 10 younger cousins and told to 'make sure you take care of the little ones!!'? Then, as soon as I was old enough to babysit, I took my course and by the time I was 12, I was regularly looking after a 2 year and 6 month old (and also well on my way to getting my hands on a shiny new pair of doc martens FYI). As a teenager I taught snowboarding for years, in my twenties I worked in after school care and surprise, surprise I got my teaching degree in 2010. But despite this long resume of working with and being surrounded by children basically all my life.....nothing could prepare me for the 24/7 job of motherhood. I am the first to admit that I am not the most patient person in the world...well, add sleep deprivation to the mix and my already worn patience grows even thinner. So when I read the March chapter about patience, I knew I needed to open my heart and listen up because I could use a little help in this department!!
One of my goals is to change my focus to seek peace not perfection. 
We are not perfect. This I know for sure. Life can be chaotic and I know I will not always react in the perfect way....but there are a few things that I took from reading this chapter. There are a lot of things I am doing right and I am patient waaaaaay more often than not. I need to acknowledge that and be proud. Nothing wrong with patting myself on the back for taking a moment to ask my toddler why she took my new ball of yarn out and proceeded to pull yards of in out leaving in a tangled mess instead of grabbing it back and yelling her for touching my stuff. Toddlers usually have a reason for doing things, often ones we don't understand and that's usually because we don't ask. For the record....she was going to make a scarf for her bear. Now how can I get mad at that? I just took a situation that could have been frustrating for both of us and turned it into a sweet memory. I am trying to remember that for every time I  yell or react out of frustration before thinking about the situation.....those are the moments that are preventing me from the calm and joyful life I am seeking. But, for every one of those times I can catch myself and choose to be patient, I am one step closer to a more peaceful existence. 

The first step in doing this is noting my triggers. So I started to note when I felt that I was less able to control my reactions and when little things start to bother me more. There seemed to be 2 pretty obvious ones.....hunger and timelines. 
1. Ever heard of the saying....'I'm sorry for what I said when I was hungry'? Ya....that's pretty spot on for me. If I am snappy, more easily frustrated and EVERYTHING seems worse than it is.....chances are I forgot to eat breakfast. So I am really trying to eat meals regularly and be more diligent at having snacks throughout the day. Any outing on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster so I am trying remember to bring lots of snacks (for me and Lexi) while we are out. Side it wrong to bribe your toddler with food in order to get her to stay in the stroller, thus making your trip to Michael's much quicker and smoother? Well it I'm probably going to continue it regardless.
2. Timelines. Ugggh. I used to be a very punctual person. Even with a new baby....and pretty much until she was around 15 months, I was usually on time for things. I just haven't adjusted to life with a toddler with opinion who insists on choosing her own clothes, and dressing herself or running out of her room multiple times because she has no interest in going where we are getting ready to go. When I am under a time crunch I start to feel anxious and irritated because every little thing Alexis does that requires my intervention is then keeping me from doing what I need to be doing in a timely fashion. It's often the 15-30 minutes it takes for me to make dinner where she climbs things she isn't supposed to, grabs at things, colours on walls, unloads cupboards and on and on and on. So my approach to the timeline issue kind of depends on the situation. But a few of the things that have worked so far are to give myself extra time, whether making dinner or leaving the house...if I don't feel rushed I don't feel as 'snappy' with Alexis. I have also been trying to make room for unscheduled time where we aren't in a rush and don't have a specific time we need to be somewhere so she can wander and explore at her own pace. If we are heading to the park to play and she is walking, she just loves to stop and touch everything and smell every flower. This has also been a great reminder for myself to slow down and enjoy the journey as much as the destination. 
And finally in those moments where I am about to lose it and all else has failed....and let me tell you when you are home all day with a toddler there are definitely those moments......I try to remember pause, take a few deep breaths and then say a little prayer for strength and patience to react in a way that will be most gentle with Alexis' heart. 
Some days are easier than others and some days I have to dig deep. Patience will always be a work in progress. And it will always be worth working on. 


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