How Can I Be A Patient Parent?

When it comes to parenting or dealing with children for that matter, we all consent to the fact that we need to exert patience at its best. Being the so called “patient mom”, I challenge this attribute every single minute of the day, especially when all five are around me arguing, complaining, or even fighting.

regret pateince

Some believe that they do not have this patience, and feel lost as to how to acquire it. But trust me even those who are characterized with lots of patience come to a point where they would like to throw a fit themselves. At this moment in time, we are experiencing a few changes and we have too many errands to be done. At times, I feel I am losing my patience. Since I hate the feelings I get after snapping back at my kiddos, I am trying to implement as many as positive adjustments as possible.

Here is how we can all work on increasing our patience tolerance:

Reduce tasks:

It is OK not being the super mom who can do everything and be everywhere at the same time. It is OK to say No for a few tasks and have specific empty slots on your calendar. We need those moments for us to breathe, to sit with our souls a bit, and to reflect. This not only contributes in patience, but also in peacefulness.

nature patience

Be present:

I always mention how being present makes a calmer person, but it also makes a person more patient. If we really listen to our kids, enjoy watching them while they play, cherish the moments when showering them we are actually being happily patient. It is easier said than done, especially when we have other worries on mind and those entire ugly feelings sneak out when we are doing routine stuff.

Sleep and wake up early:

Sufficient sleep and body rest reduces stress. Although this is not totally applied at our home, but when we are really blessed with enough sleep, we feel relaxed and we enjoy parenting at its best. Of course we also have the patience to deal whatever issues come up.

patience

Confide in them:

Whenever I lose my patience with my kids, I tell them that I need their assistance for me to maintain being the patient mom they know. Their actions influence my whole being, and for me to remain composed and poised there is also a huge responsibility on their side as well. They love to feel important and they would want to help me achieve my goals.

Physical or Mental Activity:

Any kind of physical sports or any mental exercise like meditation, or yoga releases a person’s stress and evacuates one’s inner fatigue.  Once this goal is attained, we can be characterised by forbearance.

A quote from Rumi somehow summarizes the whole idea of patience.

rumi patience

Well restored and serene parents are those who exhibit patience at its best. Let’s all try to maintain such an exuberant lifestyle. I would love to hear more from you and what methods you use in the comments below.

Responsible Toddlers

The title “responsible toddlers” seems ironic. You might be thinking that I am over exaggerating when I combine those two words together, but trust me it is true. Doctors agree that a baby’s frontal lobe, which handles all thought and voluntary behaviour, matures in spurts, and takes years to develop. Moreover, few of these functions, like emotions, speech, and problem solving develop throughout the baby’s childhood, and perhaps even beyond.  (http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a6611/your-babys-brain-the-frontal-lobe#ixzz3xJHmdRdK)

However, a one on one interaction, skin to skin affection, and eye contact form the foundations of what I call “responsible toddlers”. Moreover, what you encourage your toddlers to do shapes their character and defines their attitude. For example, if we keep on repeating how naughty he/she is, they will come to believe that they are really bad and misbehaved. A better reacting to any mischief a child does would be, “What you are doing is not acceptable, or bad, or impolite etcetera” instead of “You are bad, impolite, naughty etcetera.”

Even better, once a toddler misbehaves, it is much more amusing and successful to direct his/her attention towards something else. For example, “Come see what I have here for you”, where you go and do something of interest for him/her.

They do understand and they know everything, so do not outsmart them. I realized that once a child is not occupied with an interesting activity, this need to be engaged will be transferred towards mishaps and sometimes impoliteness.

Nurturing healthy behaviour needs a consistent hard work, lots of patience, and lots of self-control every day. Here are a few things I did before with the boys and I am currently applying with the twins:

Nurture Independence:

I always encourage my kids to try out new things on their own. It could start with simple gestures, like eating alone, undressing, wearing their crocs, putting their dirty clothes in the basket, and even throwing the diaper in the trash bin. You cannot imagine how these small actions add up to their character and have them be responsible little beings.

Cooking Tasks:

I recently started having them help in mixing cakes, and preparing cookies with me. This activity not only gets them engaged, but it also helps in having them expand their vocabulary. While I am cooking, I give them some plastic cups, pots and spoons, some water and have them explore. They pretend to be feeding each other, and sometimes they enjoy sipping water from those cups.

dandr cake mixing

Present Choices:

I usually offer them the choice to choose between the types of fruit they want to eat, or the shoes they want to wear, and sometimes the bed they want to have their day nap in. This makes the child feel valued and respected. There is a mutual kind of respect going between the two of you and it is beautiful.

Show Empathy:

When younger, the twins, like their brothers before, have tried to exhibit tantrums at home, but our reaction to them helped them leap out of it as swiftly as they started. As a parent, we should remain calm and have them understand that we are there for them. Once they settled and were able to grasp what they did, expressions like,” I love you,” “ It is over now,” “It is ok to be angry” etcetera make the child know that we are there for him/her.  Here it is significant that the child understands that he/she does not have the right to hit the parent, throw and break stuff, or hurt oneself. Eye to eye conversation in such a case is vital so you make sure all the warmth and love are seen by the child.

Encourage Sharing:

I insist that the twins share and do it with pleasure which can be done by how softly I ask them to do so. Of course, sentences like, “Thank you for sharing”, “You are very thoughtful” etcetera reinforces such positive behaviour and attitude in the future. Moreover, it reduces frustration when dealing with other kids.
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Firmness and Consistency:

This does not mean that a parent should yell or act aggressively to have the child abide by the rules. It is the challenge to remain calm, and positive as we deal with a certain attitude. After the twins started sleeping on their own, sometimes they try to break the rule and come out of bed. No matter how many times they do that, I carry them back and kiss them again saying, “You need to sleep now.”

Being firm and consistent does not only help toddlers, but it also constructs the foundations of dealing with “easier” teen agers as well. 🙂

Play time:

I dedicate almost an hour of play every day with them. It is pleasurable, rewarding, fulfilling and educational which also reminds me how blessed we are to have the time of being together.

There are plenty of activities that can be done, like painting, playing with dough, coloring, puzzle building, reading, cup stacking, block building, and the list never ends.

plyng twins

As I am always working on improving my parenting skills here, are a few things I am working on changing with my reaction not only with the toddlers, but the boys as well:

Limit the times I say NO:

As humans our first and easiest reaction would be “NO” to maybe every single request. Maybe it is out of fear, or sometimes out of not knowing how to react to a certain situation. This made me realise that I am encouraging a negative attitude which shows later on. So instead of saying” No, don’t do that”, or “No, it hurts!” I would say, “Gently, let us go down the stairs together”, “Gently! Pulling my hair hurts.” I can see some more positive reaction coming out even from the boys.

NO

Let us try to save the word NO for real dangerous situations.

Respect their individuality:

We need to be always aware of the fact that our children are not us. Each one of them has his/her own character, attitudes, personalities, and unique traits. We cannot force things on them, but we can guide them through explanations and clarifications as to why certain things are accepted and why others are not.  An open discussion starts really early on and moves throughout the years.

This reminds me of Gibran Khalil Gibran “On Children”

gibran quote

Yes, it is overwhelming at the beginning and seems impossible to even think of having those “responsible toddlers”, but it is worth trying. I would love to hear how you handle tantrums and what methods you apply. Please share your ideas in the comments below.

 

How My Babies Learned to Sleep Alone!

In the midst of all the commotion and the beautiful chaos during the vacation, the twins started sleeping on their own. Hurrayyy!

When all my five were still babies, they used to either sleep directly after being breast fed, or by the usage of a pacifier. Some of my babies used to doze off by pushing the stroller. Each one of them had their own preference, and I usually followed what made them comfortable and secure. Dahlia for example, would want me to sit next to her as she would coo or hymn until she became tired and sleepy.

Like all first babies, my first son used to sleep in a very quiet surrounding and we used get annoyed if there was any noise. Reaching number five, we are at a stage where we might even turn on the light as they sleep and they would not even feel it!

With my five kiddos my mothering instincts grew and matured. I became more aware of their needs and understood their attachment to me. For me it was a simple understanding I had with my children; if they need me, I am available both physically and emotionally. I realized that they will not sleep with me for a very long time, so why not take advantage of those cherishing moments as long as they last.

sleeping quote

One of the main successful methods for babies to sleep well is establishing a fixed routine. Otherwise, things get complicated and babies get horribly tired. Some parents are lucky enough to have their babies sleep throughout the night. On the other hand, not all babies do, and many parents get drenched by the time their little ones are settled into a fixed routine. However I have some good news for you dear mamas. Recent studies show that babies who do wake up a lot are highly associated with higher levels of intelligence and better mental health’ (Fleming professor of infant and developmental psychology, Buzzfeed.com)

newborn quote

I also learned, through my experience, that it takes some time for them to really understand and learn to sleep alone. However, I did not force it on any of them by applying “sleep training” or “controlled crying” methods. A 2011 study  showed that those approaches increase the level of stress in the babies even if they eventually learn to stop crying. It did take a lot of energy and time from me and my husband, but in the end we succeeded in having them sleep on their own.(http://www.earlyhumandevelopment.com/article/S0378-3782(11)00270-2/abstract)

Just two days after we came back from our trip to Lebanon, I was busy with the other boys tending to their scholastic duties. The twins were tired and I could not be present with them to follow in their habitual sleeping routines. So I gently put each one of them in their beds, saying, ‘Mommy is busy, and you need to sleep alone.’ I came back after five minutes to check on them to find both soundly asleep. Hurray again!

Even better, last night, Raphy held my hand and took me to his bed so I can tuck him in. Now that is even a bigger success! The cherry on top is that they both stopped waking up at night after mastering the skill of sleeping independently.

As a new mother, it is natural to try different techniques and means, especially if you are having a hard time with sleeping. But like all parenting issues, the main fruitful key is having true patience, or applying what we learn with serenity.

There are many handy tips that moms can surf on the net. At first babies spend most of their days sleeping; as they grow naps should be reduced. For example, once the baby is around 16 months old one nap per day is sufficient, and it is always better to have it done before 4:00 pm. Otherwise, the baby will not be able to sleep early at night. In addition, if the baby fails to sleep at that time it is OK to have her/him nap for ten minutes and wake them up.

sleeping chart

As per Fleming, many years ago and in many African countries nowadays babies spend most of their times carried around their mommy’s waist.  Babies crave personal contact and feel stressed if they do not get it. The whole idea of having the babies sleep all night in their own cots is a recent 20th century idea. This also explains why the rate of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) has increased.

In our modern lives we want everything to be perfectly organised, but the reality of parenting proves otherwise. If we grab that amazing chance of being parents where we could comprehend and appreciate their needs, we would relish those moments. I came to the conclusion that things get settled at their own time. For some it might take less than others, it is OK if yours need more time. Just go with their flow and enjoy them!

raising kids