Last weekend, Larson had her first gymnastics meet which meant I had my first gymnastics meet as a mom. I had no idea what to expect. It was all very exciting. To watch these kids be so brave.
Then, it came time for the awards. It was suddenly clear to me two things:
1) That every kid was going to get a medal
2) That we were going to be there ALL DAY – I’m talking 14th place to 1st in every category in several age groups
I was getting VERY impatient. I suddenly did NOT care if Larson got a medal – let’s get back to the old school 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners! and get out of here!
Then, I looked up and saw this. My kid. Sitting there so patiently.
She wasn’t crying or pitching a fit. She leaned over and said “good job” to her friend wearing 4 medals as she sat there wearing none. And I got teary thinking – I’ll remember THIS moment more than anything she wins. She turned back with this shy grin with a hint of fear . Her eyes said “Am I going to get anything mom?” And I gave her the smile back of assurance and pride. And almost rushed the blue carpet. She already won.
It wasn’t her turn yet, but she remained calm. And then it was her turn. That cutie patootie got her 5 medals and jumped up on the podium four times. Suddenly, the waiting was worth it.
I watched my child wait with a happy heart. Better than her mom.
I saw my kid display patience and I liked it.
Now, don’t get too excited. This doesn’t happen all of the time. There are PLENTY of times – this same child needs a snack, or hug or potty – NOW! And patience isn’t her virtue.
Why does patience matter?
Is patience just for good little Christian families? Why is this something we even care about?
For me, patience is less about waiting well now and so much more about their future. I know one day – it’s going to be way more than a medal. They are going to be waiting on a first job. Waiting on their first husband. Waiting to get pregnant. And I have learned and observed a connection between patience and faith.
Learning to wait well translates into learning to trust well.”
For my own life, the times that I have waited and trusted that God actually does know better – it always turns out better. I want my girls to practice the virtue of patience from a very tiny age so that when the stakes are high, they are ready.
It doesn’t make it easy, it simply makes it worth it.
So, that’s the goal this month. To simply practice. In little ways and big ways, because one day their ability to wait is going to impact their faith.
In Chapter 5 of In This House, We Will Giggle – there is an entire chapter dedicated to Patience. It has a Family Fun activity, catch phrases, family dinner questions, scripture verses and an easy definition. For today, I’ll just give you a few quick tips.
1. Avoid Unnecessary Waiting
Help a sister/brother out. Sometimes, we want two-year-olds to act like 20-years-olds. They physically cannot sit still for four hours perfectly. If your favorite restaurant has an hour-long wait and all kids are hungry – you might be headed into a disaster. Or, if 4 pm every day is the time your family melts down – that might not be the ideal time to stock up on your home goods at Target. They do indeed need to learn patience – but we can avoid unnecessary waiting and insane levels of parent/kid anxiety.
Our Grammy coined this phrase and I love it. “Pack your patience!” If we know we are going to wait somewhere – we warn our kids and simply say “pack your patience” and even pack a bag to help with it. Whether it’s a coloring book or simple game or card game. We try to improve the process. We try to only use screens if it’s an emergency situation and people are truly melting down. We keep a bag in our junk closet that has things like this. They know to run and get something fun from the bag if we are headed to a sporting event or restaurant where they will be asked to wait with a happy heart.
In addition, waiting is always a good time to focus on others. Waiting on your turn at gymnastics? Encourage your friend and cheer loud. Or, simply clean up something around you. Try a a Light ‘Em Up act in a restaurant. Text 10 friends with something sweet.
Since patience is SUPER hard and often a new thing for our kids – praise it like crazy. If you see anything that looks or smells like patience, jump on it with big praise. Once you start pointing it out – they will begin to see it isn’t that hard. And my kids do more of good things – when I notice and praise. Like all of us.
For myself, I notice that I’m often impatient for no reason. I have to remind myself and my kids that we have nowhere to be and can just chill out. We can set the tone and help out cashiers, coaches, teachers, baristas and more. We can just chill and be happy. Nothing is really that urgent.
Let me know what things are working for you! What tips and tricks work for your family!