Do I really have to talk about patience?
Often when people hear that we have ten children they say, “You must have a lot of patience!” I’m sure there are a lot of reasons that God blessed us with a large family, but I can say with a good bit of confidence that it was not because I was patient, perhaps because I needed to learn patience, but not because I had already had it.
Welcome to 4 Moms, 35 Kids: How Moms of Many Manage. This week we’re talking about patience.
I am more patient now than I was before we had children, but I still have a long way to go (a very long way to go).
When I think about patience and avoiding losing it, there are two main ideas that come into my head. One is avoiding situations where my patience will be overly taxed and the other is managing in the midst of those taxing times. For me it’s important to utilize both.
or avoid situations that will unnecessarily test patience
We train our children to obey quickly, cheerfully and completely.
Often when I begin to get frustrated it’s because I have allowed a pattern of disobedience to emerge. (“I’ve asked you to pick up your room three times already.” which means that I’ve already allowed three instances of disobedience.) This type of repeated and/or consistent disobedience is frequently a result of my laziness and failure to consistently train my children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (“Children obey your parents” is His standard, not just mine.)
I try not to over commit or over schedule.
Kids are kids and they need me, my love and my attention, lots of it. Spending a day (or an hour) on a project may be a necessity, but spending three days (or three hours) on a project may be provoking your children to anger (Col. 3:21).
You know your children and you probably already know that they function better when you’re not running from place to place, activity to activity, but are able to slow down and spend time focusing on them.
I give myself extra time.
When we have a deadline, I try to plan for an extra half hour to meet that deadline. This allows us to handle a blowout diaper, a disobedient child, a lost shoe, another potty break or whatever else comes down the pike. It’s when I face all of these (and twenty more) at the same time that I work on keeping my patience, because it happens and those stressful situations are sure to come, no matter how many children are in your home.
Cope in the chaos
Despite our best efforts we will face situations that test our patience to the limit. Here are some things that I do/keep in mind that help me handle the tough times in a biblical manner.
There is never an excuse for impatience.
It doesn’t matter what situation I face, I have no right to respond with impatience, no matter what the ‘world’ (and even our Christian friends) may tell me.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Cor. 10:13)
Pray for patience
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Luke 11:9)
Pray without ceasing
It’s very difficult/impossible to get frustrated or angry if I’m in the process of praying.
Focus on the goal
Generally my impatience comes when I’m focused on me and what I want to accomplish (dinner on the table, clean house, laundry folded). In these instances I view my children’s interruptions as a hindrance to the goal, but I have it all wrong.
Peace, love, kindness and regarding others as more important than myself is what I say my goal is and having children gives me a multitude of opportunities to demonstrate the truth of that. When I remember that my goal in life is to serve Christ by serving these children, then I’m able to have a right view of the interruptions, messes and chaos that come my way.
Stop what you’re doing and look at your child
Think about the situation from their perspective.
With ten children I am frequently asked the same question multiple times simply because several children need to know the answer. I’m often sorely tempted to reply with impatience when I’m asked, “May I go play outside?” for the seventh time in 3 minutes, but when I stop a moment and look at my child, I realize that this child has not yet heard my reply, they’ve done nothing wrong and are simply asking me a question. Responding with impatience would certainly be provoking my child to anger.
Take a break
It can be something as simple as sitting down and reading a picture book or as elaborate as taking the kids to the park for a swim and a picnic, but sometimes you just need to take some time to remember that it’s fun being a mommy and these kids are some of the best gifts that God has given.
When you lose your patience and respond to your children in a sinful manner, then be quick to repent and ask their forgiveness and God’s forgiveness. I always use the words, “I was wrong”. I tell them in what way I sinned against them and I ask them to forgive me.
What strategies help you to keep your patience?
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