Patience: Valued Virtue or Impossible Goal?

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24 Jul 2013

Patient mother and naughty sonMy kids just left for a month of camp. Everyone was mostly home this past month and it was great but also tough. Let’s just say that my patience was often sorely tried.

I always thought I was a patient person, and then I had kids. Patience is a midah that you need in abundance when you are a parent. Kids seem to live in a different time zone then us, especially when we need them to do things. They often dawdle, procrastinate and never seem to feel the same panicked urgency that we do when it is time to get to school, do their homework or get into bed.

So what to do? Here are 4 simple tips on how to improve your midah of patience: 

1.   Accept that you will lose your patience:

I know that when I lose my patience with my kids, I get annoyed with myself. I feel that I as a parent I should be above all that and that I should always be loving and kind. So on top of being frustrated with my kids, I am also disappointed in myself. All those negative feelings do not help matters. Recognizing that even the best parents will lose their patience from time to time can help you be more realistic about your parenting and less critical and more patient with yourself. It can then hopefully spillover into how you treat your kids.

2. Patience is Physical:

I have some very smart and kind friends who have given me lots of parenting advice over the years. I was complaining to one of my very smart and kind friends about how tired I was and how I seem to be losing it with more and more with my kids, “I feel like my patience is shot!” She said, ”You need a break, you can’t raise a family if you are not filling up your on gas tank. Patience is physical, my dear!”

She is right. Patience is physical. I have a lot more patience with my kids, if I have eaten a healthy dinner, had my multivitamin and gotten a good night sleep.

So don’t laugh or shake your head. It is not impossible. Taking care of ourselves has to be a priority.

3. Get help:

When you feel like you are losing your patience all the time, it is time to call in the troops. I know sometimes Moms, including myself, have a hard time asking for help but sometimes you need a little extra assistance. Hiring a babysitter for a few hours a week, swapping child care with a friend or asking your family to pitch are just a few of the ways to gain the support you need. Hopefully this will kick your patience level up a notch.

4.  Do what you love:

If we go on our assumption that patience is physical then make time to do what you love to do. When we involve ourselves in our favorite pastimes, we feel more energized and vital, and probably a lot more patient. You can even include your kids in your activities. Children can be taught to cultivate hobbies that you feel passionate about, biking, gardening, nature walks, painting, crafts or reading.

It is not easy to cultivate patience but it can be done. Taking care of yourself, getting help and doing what you love are all simple ways to do just that.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.