Recently I responded to a question on Instagram. The question “what is the New Year’s resolution you’ve failed the worst?” was easy for me to answer. It brought me immediately back to a time when I accepted The Orange Rhino challenge, an online challenge to parent without yelling for 365 days.

I’m not sure how long I lasted. Knowing that I had a three and one-year-old at the time, it probably wasn’t more than a day or two. Add to the regular stressors of motherhood, a pregnancy, and I can promise you that yelling happened. What I do remember is this–I failed.

If you’re looking to be a more peaceful parent in 2021, don’t give yourself strict rules and impossible expectations. Instead, give yourself grace.

5 Tips for Calm During the Chaos

1. Count to 10

Call it a time-out, a beat, whatever you want. Just remember that time-outs are not just for when you blow up and do the yelling. Counting to 10 is not just for when you lose your temper. Take time to yourself throughout the day. Close your eyes and count to 10 whenever you have a free moment. Practice square breathing (inhale for 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, exhale 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, repeat).

2. Pick Your Battles

You don’t always have to be right, and you don’t always have to engage in the fight. When it comes to parenting, it’s important to keep the peace by not fighting every battle. Evaluate each negative experience with your children before responding. Would conflict help overall, or hurt overall? Sometimes a gentle reminder goes further than discipline and punishment.

3. Start Everyday the Same

Begin your day with positive energy. Pray, connect with God, and connect with your children and spouse before the business of the day takes over. A morning routine will put you in a calmer place each day. It also sets a great example for your children and sets the stage for a daily routine.

4. Minimize Stress

The stress we encounter as adults can often impact our attitude toward our children. When we’re stressed out over finances, relationships, work, etc., our fuse is shorter. We may jump to conclusions. We may punish more harshly. As much as possible, treat your children the same when you’re stressed and when you’re not. Of course it’s “easier said than done”, but can be achieved, if you are consistent in your interactions with your kids.

5. Use the C.A.L.M. Technique

Connect. Affect. Listen. Mirror. Connect with your children daily. Choose a specific time each day to put your phone away and connect with your children through an organized activity or free time. Make sure you communicate through words and body language that you are listening and available to them. Utilize affect matching to show your children empathy. If they look sad, you should look sad. When they are happy, you share in that happiness with your face. Listen actively to your children. Repeat and paraphrase so they know you hear them and are listening. Sit with your child and mirror with them, reflecting back to them how they are feeling and letting them share it with you.