Once kids enter toddler years most parents struggle to keep their sanity. Toddler years are not easy, to say the least. You may wonder, ‘How to be a calm parent?’, when in the midst of temper tantrums and control issues.
I too had my share of times when I felt like I was about to lose it. Situations may vary from family to family, but the anger triggers are almost always the same – Tiredness and Sleep Deprivation. No parent wants to be the monster in their child’s life. We don’t yell and scream intentionally.
We just lose ourselves in the moment and think there is no other way to control the situation than yelling and screaming. So, ‘how to stop being an angry mom?’
Before we get to the steps to help you create a calmer home, there is a big point that needs to be covered.
KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS: A START TOWARDS PEACEFUL PARENTING
Take a moment to analyze the circumstances the last time you yelled or felt defeated by your child. Were you tired? Were you sleep deprived? had a bad day?
Once you know your triggers, take steps to address the core problem first. If you are feeling tired or sleep deprived – ask your partner or a close relative to help you out so you can get some rest, feel fresh and get back in again.
Every parent needs a time out from parenting. Its natural to get burned out if you are trying to do everything single-handedly.
HERE ARE 11 STEPS TO BECOMING A CALM PARENT
- Change in perspective
The first change that needs to happen is a change in your perspective of life. Everything is not happening to you. As your children grow there are different milestones they will cover that require special attention and guidance. These fluctuations in your child’s behavior and habits do not reflect on you.
Your job as a parent is to stop taking your child’s growth and development too personally. All kids yell, scream and test boundaries. Continue with consistent messaging and calm approach to tackle your child’s needs.
Related reading: How to get your toddler to listen without yelling
- Prepare for success
As I mentioned in the point above; tiredness, lack of sleep are all triggers to an angry meltdown. Children are going to be challenging. It’s our emotional and mental wellbeing that triggers the anger. Once you know potential anger triggers, plan ways to avoid or cope with them.
Here are a few ways to control your temper and avoid an angry meltdown;
- If you have a busy day ahead, go to bed early the night prior.
- Don’t plan any socialization when you or your kids are tired.
- Cut down on activities if you feel the schedule is too busy and weighing you down. Sometimes unstructured time is also needed to help unwind and feel connected with your kids.
Another important point worth mentioning, is building the right type of support system suited to your family situation.
Since my husband travels extensively for work and is unavailable to parent with me for a large part of the month, the first decision I took once my son was a toddler and I was ready to return to work was hire a caretaker for a few hours each day.
The solution may look different for each family, but the simple truth is that it helps to have some sort of a support system to help raise our kids, motherhood is not about being a supermom.
You can take help from your spouse, or either of your parents, or choose a daycare/nanny. Whatever works for your situation.
Raising children truly does require a village, we do many young mothers disservice by having them believe that they need to do it all. Look after their kids, cook meals, clean and work. Its impossible to juggle everything all at once and not loose your calm.
We should not feel ashamed to ask for help, especially during those early growing up years of our children lives.
- Time blocking
Time blocking is a method of allocating a set period of time to tasks and completing them with a complete focus in that specified amount of time.
If you are a work from home mom like me this can help you stay productive throughout the day.
I divide my time throughout the day between big important tasks and smaller unimportant tasks. Activities that require most amounts of focus need to be done in a dedicated ‘do not disturb’ time block.
You can schedule such quiet complete focus time slots around your kid’s naps or hire help/send kids to daycare, so you get dedicated work done.
Easier activities that require less attention can be done in small 20 minute windows for eg, while waiting at a doctors office, waiting while food cooks or while traveling.
I use such mundane time slots of the day to reply back to non-urgent emails or reading up and researching information or creating a draft of a blog post in the notes app on my phone.
I use a weekly planner and list out my time blocks for the week. I plan the week on a Sunday so I know what to expect each day with one glance at the weekly planner. Having a weekly planner also helps stay on track and motivated since you are looking at tasks over a period of one week instead of a day.
Here is a post I wrote recently on my productivity tips as a work from home mom, juggling my time between my son and work.
- Be present
Take a breather from the frantic pace of life and be present. Sometimes it’s nice to just put the phone away and truly appreciate your child as he plays. I keep early mornings and evening bedtime routine dedicated to mom and son time.
When my husband is home both of us keep our phones away and spend quality time with our son. No distractions.
There are days I need to use the phone or laptop even at night to meet some deadlines, but I try and keep those to a few limited instances.
Having alone time with my son helps me connect with him, understand his needs better, in turn, making me confident in my abilities as a mom. Just the feeling of bonding with my son gives confidence. This confidence comes in handy when I am facing testing situations.
You use your insight into your child’s behavior to provide creative solutions and avoid another yelling spree.
We yell and scream when we feel we are not heard. When you spend one on one time with your child you learn about him and these learnings help you make him feel more loved and heard. Yelling and screaming is always a call for attention, for more love and time.
- Set structure
The key to a calmer home is to have a certain structure to the day.
Having a consistent routine for the day helps your child know what is expected of him.
This helps him move along the day in a calmer manner too. In fact, most young children love a routine that includes their favorite activities and happily comply. Think of 4-5 activities your child loves and structure the day strategically placing these activities to best suit your energy levels. This works very well for me.
My son loves reading, water play, park time and kitchen based pretend play.
And a routine that keeps me energetic throughout the day is one that starts slow, picks up the pace and then ends slow. So I divide his favorite activities to match my energy levels throughout the day. This way both of us get what we want and there are few tears and disagreements.
A routine of a 2-year-old
6-7 am Read books and a snack
7-9 am Brush teeth then free play [he chooses what toys to play with. I sit close by with my cup of tea and we talk, read books and play together]
9 am Breakfast
10-12:30 am More free play. At age 2 he plays with puzzles, building blocks, vehicles, busy books, kitchen utensils, pretend play, water play, play dough, stickers and craft activities. [this is the intense part of the day, our nanny takes over at this point and I get some work and cooking done.]
12:30-1 pm Lunch
1-2 pm Listen to nursery rhymes, tell stories and naptime
2-4 pm Naptime
4-5 pm Snack and free play
5-7 pm Park
7-7:30 pm Dinner
7:30 pm Bath
8-9 pm Bedtime routine [brush teeth, read books, tell stories, hugs, and cuddles. Stay inside the bedroom in order for your child to know its bedtime.]
Now, the time slots may vary depending on the day (for example, when he is teething, bedtime gets pushed to even later), but overall this is how our day flows. My aim is to have him in bed for the night by 9 pm latest. And most days he falls off to sleep between 8:30 pm to 9 pm. This structure allows me some time for myself and for my husband.
Having alone time is important for a mother’s mental wellbeing, in turn, making her a calmer mom.
Are you struggling with setting a solid routine? Try the Family Routines e-course by Pulling Curls. Hilary is a working mom of 3 and her course gives new mothers insight into how veteran moms like her are maintaining a thriving family life with less mom guilt. This course helps you,
- Enjoy daily tasks, while teaching kids life skills
- Stop the guilt from not accomplishing as much as you want
- Feel great about what you ARE getting done
- Leave more “margins” in your day, to be able to tackle the unexpected easier
Finding the right routine that suits your family is the start to a peaceful parenting life.
- Set limits & house rules
When children enter toddler years the need for limits and house rules is very important. These are important for your sanity.
Most parents lose their cool trying to keep the child safe and away from harm. Why not set limits and house rules to get them used to stay safe indoors. Some examples of house rules are things like;
- Designated safe play areas in the house
- Designated spot or chair for feeding
- Rules for play (when the family has more than one kid; explain gentle touch and how one child can ask for a toy from another)
- Baby safe home (grills on windows, safety locks on fridge doors and cabinets, slip-proof bathroom mats, safety nets around pool areas, learn how we created a baby-safe home in my post on baby-proofing the house.)
- Set time for meals.
- Carve out self only time
I already spoke about carving out time just for yourself in the day in my blog post on creating a self-care routine. Self-only time helps stay refreshed and energized.
I notice I am less frustrated and irritable on days I have spent some time doing something just for myself. Investing some time for yourself also makes you more enthusiastic about doing more for your kids.
The more you pour in your glass the more you can pour out for others.
- Dedicate family time
Family time in a family with a traveling spouse is rare. But the first instance we get; we spend time together in some family activity. Either visit a local nature park or go to the museum. Anything to get out of the house and spend some quality time together. This keeps all our spirits high and sets a calmer mood for 2-3 days after.
Spending time together as a family is also important for young children to develop positive self-esteem. Your child becomes a more confident and happier baby knowing mommy and daddy care about his needs and want to spend time doing things that interest him.
Here is a blog post I wrote recently on how I brought the fun back into parenting, with my tips and ideas on how to be a more fun mom.
- Ask someone to care for you
When you are constantly caring for others in your life, there is bound to be some burnout. At such times even a self-care routine won’t do it for you.
I regularly ask my parents to help with my son or my mom/hubby to cook me meals. This gives me a break from the monotony of everyday tasks and I find myself a happier person when I feel cared for.
This sounds simple but believe me, we forget about this in our daily routine. If you don’t have a family nearby to help; ask hubby to pamper you sometime or hire services that do certain tasks like cooking and delivering fresh food just to give you a break.
- Night routine
The way you end the day is as important as the day itself.
Write about your day in a journal. Journaling helps with goal setting, learning from the day and motivates you to do more in your life.
Use night time to include your favorite self-care activities.
Add a 5-minute prayer to your routine. Having gratitude for all your blessings in life has a calming effect on the mind and reminds you of what’s important. Avoid screens before bedtime and go straight to bed.
11. Planning personal and professional goals
I don’t know about you, but I am the type of person who will immediately calm down once I figure out a way to navigate the day aka ‘plan my day’. I like to have a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly plan for my personal and professional life. This helps me feel less anxious and stay calm in the midst of daily family chaos.
I already spoke about the importance of journaling in the previous point. When you know you are headed in a particular direction you work towards it with focus and determination.
All these seemingly simple steps make you a calm parent. I won’t be surprised if more than half the moms who read this don’t include these steps in their daily routine and feel guilty about yelling and being an angry parent.
My friend Shailaja from Diary of a doting mom talks about her experience of moving from an angry to a calm mom on her blog. Her journey through peaceful parenting has learnings for all of us.
Calmness comes from within, it is not external. So we need to work coping with triggers in order to be a calm parent. It is not easy following gentle parenting principles on a day to day basis.
Parenting requires a lot of practice and creativity. But it’s not impossible either. The more you practice calmness and creativity when parenting, the easier it becomes.
What strategies do you employ to maintain calm in a stressful situation? Do leave me a comment below on your experience with peaceful parenting.