Earlier this week, I asked single parents for their best parenting hacks—because if anyone is crushing parenthood, it’s those who are doing it predominantly on their own. There was loads of great advice offered up: Schedule all your dental cleanings in tandem, go to bed when the kids go to bed, get yourself ready for the day first, and utilise your gym’s child care facility.
A lot of the advice struck me as helpful for all parents, but especially this tip from commenter Jacqui Steele, who may finally help me solve my on-going patience problem:
I’m a solo parent of a 7 year old but for 10 years earlier in my life I was a nanny. My parenting hack is one I employ when there’s something we have to do that my child really doesn’t like. For example, my daughter hated taking baths for a while. Some days it was a serious struggle to maintain my patience. One particularly distressing bath, I was mentally crying out for Mary Poppins and I realised the answer: It’s easier to be a nanny because they aren’t your children!?
So my advice is this; when you have come to the end of your rope imagine you’re caring for someone else’s children! When you mentally switch gears from parenting to babysitting your emotional investment changes. Suddenly it’s easier to remain calm and patient and it’s kind of a mental vacation. You’re still conscientious and caring and you’re getting things done. And like me, you may actually come up with new and creative solutions since you now have a fresh perspective!
Imagine. They. Are. Someone. Else’s. Kids.
You have no choice but to keep the kindness in your voice—they’re not your kids. You’re taking all of it way less personally—cuz they’re not your kids. Kids just act out sometimes, right? Not your kids, not your problem!
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Now, you should use this sparingly. Eighteen straight years of pretending your kids don’t belong to you is not the way to go; they’re sure to pick up on that after a while and it won’t be good for your relationship.
But during those especially frustrating moments when they’re having a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store or talking back to you again or just generally being disagreeable, you can distance yourself from the behaviour and lower the stakes by imagining that you’re just the nanny.