I used to think I was a patient person.
A few years ago I even thought about studying to be a primary school teacher.
But I found out when I became a parent that losing patience is all too easy.
Unless you have the patience of a saint I think it's almost inevitable.
Some of the things that wind me up are really trivial. It feels like they compound each other though.
Here are some examples.
Getting Up In The Morning
The alarm goes off most days in our house at 6.30am and that means the start of a busy 90 minutes.
We have to be out of the house by around 8am in order to get to school on time.
I tentatively start waking the kids up around 7am and then give them some space for a few minutes.
Most of the time they're tired and grumpy and don't want to get up even though they've had loads of sleep.
The points where I start losing patience are when:
- I've made breakfast and they don't eat anything;
- I've asked them to get dressed 5 times without a response;
- they won't clean their teeth after finally eating something, and;
- when it's cold outside and they refuse to wear a coat.
Spend Hours Waiting Around For Them
After school finishes my kids take part in after school activities.
But because they're different ages, they finish school and their activities at different times of the day.
I usually pick one of them up from school and my wife is able to pick up the other.
Sometimes it doesn't work out like that though and my daughter and I end up waiting around for an hour for my son's activity to finish.
If it's nice weather that's fine but recently it's been seriously cold and I don't want to hang around in the cold for an hour.
My daughter's usually keen to because there are other parents waiting around with their kids for the same reason.
When it's -1 degrees outside it's inevitable I start losing patience and want to make a quick exit to the local coffee shop.
Homework is a nightly battle and one where patience can be lost so easily!
My son is generally very good at doing his homework, although sometimes he gets halfway through and doesn't want to continue.
My daughter is the opposite though and struggles to complete it.
She's tired by the time she gets home and concentration levels are low.
I'm usually willing both of them to get it done and over with so we can all relax for the evening.
It can be quite a stressful business and on occassion we just give up and don't complete it.
I understand that it's good for the kids to consolidate what they've learnt in school but life's also too short to try and win the battle every night.
I Don't Want To Yell
When you get to the yelling stage, you're out of control.
And as much as I don't want to do it, I seem to yell at the kids quite a bit.
Much of the advice I've read about this sort of thing feels very patronising and I didn't find helpful.
I did find some great ideas in Lizzie Heislet's article on Babble though.
Some of them are so obvious yet when I'm losing patience I wouldn't have considered them.
I particularly like the idea of popping some chocolate, although that won't help my waistline!
When I read that "expressing anger negatively can increase the stress hormone cortosil and lead to ailments like high blood pressure", I decided it's time to do something about it.
So for the next week or so, I'm going to try and diffuse any situation that arises without being reactionary.
I know that's a very short term target but you've got to start as you mean to go on.
Running Keeps Me Calm
Since I started running 18 months ago, not only has my health improved, but also my general mood.
Being a stay at home dad can be quite a stressful existence and at times quite lonely.
It's quite easy to feel isolated and generally down in the dumps so anything to get out and about is welcome.
Over the past few weeks I've been inconsistent with my running schedule and I've noticed myself how my stress level has increased.
My wife has commented before that I'm much calmer since I started running so I need to get back to it straight away.
My excuse has been how cold it's been outside but it didn't phase me this time last year.
I set up a new training calendar today starting on Monday to encourage myself to get with the program.
That should help with being less reactive and losing patience a few less times with the kids next week.
Is Losing Patience Inevitable When You Have Kids?
I've purposely haven't fully answered the question because it depends.
It depends on the people involved, their individual circumstances and how well they cope with stress and pressure.
For me it feels like it's inevitable that I'll lose my patience with the kids at some point during the day.
What do you think? How do you steer away from conflict and being reactionary?
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