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Life with kids is always challenging. If you’re desperately ready to learn how to be a calm mom when your toddler is losing it, you’re in the right spot.
Whether it’s the 5 am wake-up calls, their refusal to eat anything that’s not their favorite color, or the constant stream of chatter and questions, almost every mom wishes that her life was a little less stressful at times.
Whilst a Zen-like existence may seem impossible to imagine right now, there are certainly some simple steps you can take to bring more calm into your life. And it starts with YOU.
Finding it HARD to resist the urge to control your child with threats, punishments, and yelling when they’re acting out? Do you fear your child won’t be prepared for the real world if you don’t teach them who is in control? If this sounds like you, CLICK HERE to learn more about ‘Let Go of Your Inner Control Freak‘
(a virtual workshop created by Bryana Kappadakunnel, an LMFT who specializes in conscious parenting, breaking cycles of shame, child development, and maternal mental health)
Identify “Why is parenting so hard for me?”
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, and we all have our own unique struggles.
New moms may feel anxious that they’re making the right decisions or worry that they’re not qualified to look after a baby alone.
Parents of multiples may struggle to leave the house for fear of the kids running off in opposite directions as soon as they step out of the door.
And moms of teens may find themselves struggling to deal with their unruly offspring’s shocking behavior.
On your journey from chaos to calm, it’s important to identify exactly what it is that makes parenting hard for you personally so that you can address this.
If any of these words sound familiar to you: burn out, overwhelmed, tired, guilt, chaos… then you definitely need to recharge your batteries. ANY trigger can be heightened when you’re at that state of running on empty.
One of the BIGGEST triggers I’ve learned to identify in myself (thanks to the help of Bryana Kappakunnel & her teachings) is that I felt like I always needed to be ‘in charge’. Therefore, when tantrums and outbursts would erupt — it brought me back into the out-of-control state which was an incredibly hard place for me to be in.
Consider the demands of parenting today
Parenting has changed a lot over the past couple of generations. Moms who have full-time jobs spend just as much time tending to their children as stay-at-home moms did in the 1970s.
As well as the tricky balance of family and career to worry about, there’s the overload of information from the internet, which can leave parents confused over which advice is best when it comes to raising kids.
Parenting is hard. But hopefully, this list of tips will give you some actionable ways to bring calm and consciousness into life as a parent.
Practical ways to be a calm mom without driving yourself crazy
1) Don’t take the things your kids do personally
You ask your child to stop messing around with their drink and five minutes later the drink is all over the floor. It’s a common scenario and one which might lead a mom to have feelings of irritation, failure and hopelessness. Particularly if similar scenes are repeated day after day.
It’s important to recognize that your kids aren’t doing these things to annoy you.
Their short-term memories are still developing and they often don’t have the mental capacity to consider all the possible consequences of their actions.
This is nobody’s fault, least of all yours, so don’t take it personally.
2) Make time FOR YOURSELF
Going to the grocery store on your own may feel like time for yourself, but it’s not.
You need real, uninterrupted me-time at least once a week.
Take a long bath, end the night with some journaling, go for a run, or have coffee with a friend.
Of course, it’s hard to fit in with the demands of parenting, but skip the time to unwind and you’re setting yourself up for a life of pent-up stress.
3) Try a Gentle Parenting Approach
Gentle parenting seems to be a bit of a more popular approach amongst millennial parents. I think the obvious reason for it is that we all have a lot of healing to do from how we were raised.
Unfortunately for us, becoming parents has only highlighted the work we have yet to do.
So how can gentle parenting help with this? Gentle parenting is an evidence-based approach. It fosters 4 key areas that include: respect, empathy, understanding, and boundaries.
See that last pillar, boundaries. Oftentimes, gentle parenting gets mistaken as a method of parenting in which children have no rules and become pushovers in this tough world. Yikes, are those assumptions far from the truth.
Gentle parenting is a big shift in how many of us are used to being treated, that’s for sure. However, the benefits are so worth the conscious effort.
One of the reasons this method of parenting is so tough is because most of the works start with YOU, the parent. It requires you to break the cycle of how you were parented, know your own triggers, lead by example, and accept your child with where they’re at & be ready to walk this journey with them.
4) Eliminate ‘Time Outs’, Hold Boundaries.
Children naturally crave attention from their parents. The principle behind ‘time outs’ is to punish the child for ‘bad behavior’ by taking away your attention by putting them in an isolated scenario.
Here is the magic secret that will solve your problems with time-outs: children aren’t bad.
Sure, maybe your child acting out after you told them playtime was over seems bad. What it really is, is a power struggling between you (the adult) and your toddler (who is developmentally still learning how to understand to transition amongst activities).
Here is the bigger question, if time-outs really work, why do you keep having to repeat them over and over again for weeks on end?
Time outs might give you instant gratification in the moment by ceasing connection and instilling fear, but it DOES NOT teach your child the skill that needs to be learned. In this example, transitions.
Here is what a more gentle parenting approach would look like:
Parent: Hey kiddo, we have 2 more minutes to play with the dump truck. Then it’s time to go eat.
Child: But I want 5 minutes. I don’t want to eat.
Parent: Oh man, you’re having so much fun, it sucks when the fun has to end. How about you help me set the table for dinner while we pretend to be dump trucks?!
In this short scenario, you set a boundary: we have 2 minutes until it’s time to eat. Then, you held space for how your child might be feeling. Lastly, you invited them to be part of a fun solution that leads to the end goal: mealtime.
Will this approach always work so cookie-cutter-like? Definitely not. However, as time goes on and your child learns to trust, understand, and navigate these feelings, you WILL likely notice an improvement in their ability to listen and problem-solve.
This then means, mom gets to be calmer because there are fewer battles to even think about fighting.
5) Try practicing meditation
Meditation is scientifically proven to reduce stress, lower anxiety levels, and cultivate more creative problem-solving. These are all things that will be of incredible benefit to anyone who desires to become a calmer mom.
If you can find five to ten minutes per day to meditate, you’ll soon reap the benefits.
Even one minute per day spent practicing mindfulness is better than nothing, and we’ve all got time for that, even if you have to hide in the bathroom.
A simple meditation technique you can try at home (even on the craziest of days) is this:
- Sit or lay down comfortably
- Close your eyes & breathe naturally
- Let your mind clear of all thoughts
- Focus mind on feeling & listening to each breath you take
- Allow every exhale to rid you of tension and stress
Practice this simple technique as many times a day as needed. It’s very basic and great to do when you’re on the go or feeling trapped at home.
6) Find someone to talk to
A problem shared is a problem halved. Even knowing that others are going through the same stresses as you can provide you with a sense of relief.
If you don’t have other mom friends in your area, check out Facebook groups where you’re sure to find other lonely and stressed parents who are up for a chat.
7) Pick your battles
Unless you’ve somehow spurned little robots instead of children, your life will never be perfect. They will do things that annoy you, forget to listen, and act out. It’s natural.
It’s hard, I know, but you’re always going to have to let some of that bad behavior slide and reprimand only the worst of it.
Because what’s the alternative? Being a naggy mom that criticizes every detail of their child’s behavior won’t make them behave any better. It’ll just make both of you stressed out and unhappy.
8) Create a flexible routine
There’s definitely a sweet spot on the scale between a military-type agenda and just winging the whole day.
For the least stress, plan the outline of a routine, but know that you can deviate from it when you need to.
9) Don’t react out of anger
If you have a temper, it’s vital that you recognize your anger so that you can take action to immediately neutralize it.
As soon as you feel those feelings of anger, you should physically distance yourself from the situation (even if that’s only by one step).
Employ relaxation techniques such as counting to ten, meditation or even just taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly.
10) Be more present
It’s a cliché, I know, but they’re not little for long.
Take time to enjoy living in the moment and enjoying your children, rather than planning your next move or worrying about what’s gone before.
Here are a few ways to help you practice more present parenting:
- Put down the electronic devices.
- Spend some time outside exploring.
- Attend a parent child class or workshop together.
- Dedicate 20 minutes a day of uninterrupted play.
- Get down to their level when interacting.
11) Eat healthy and exercise
There’s a lot of truth in the saying “healthy body, healthy mind”.
Yoga is great for boosting both your physical and mental health, whilst preparing and eating meals made from fresh ingredients is a great way to spend time as a family.
By applying these practical tips & techniques to your day-to-day routine, you’ll be well on your way to be a calm mom & practice more mindful parenting!
Have you tried any of these tips before? Which ones worked best for you and your toddler?