Have you ever stopped and noticed yourself being amazing? We all have those parenting moments when things are just working and we’re proud of how we’re doing. And then there are those other moments—those moments when things just aren’t working. Our frustration yields impatience or impulsivity, and our ability to operate from our deepest parenting values disintegrates. In those moments, the background conversation is usually disempowering and negative.

While these thoughts may never cease, we can train our minds to replace them quickly with positive thoughts. One thing we know from research is that, be they conscious or not, thoughts always precede action. So, why not take a stab at adding more positive thoughts to your inner dialogue? One great way to do this is with mantras, simple statements that you can repeat frequently to reverse your downward spiral of negative thinking. By paying closer attention to what you want (vs. what you don’t want), you’re training yourself to have positive thoughts that will precede positive actions. I won’t lie. It takes practice.

Mantras simply remind you to stop and focus on something constructive. They help you drop into a positive place that is actually empowering and fulfilling. They are most effective when you say them as if they are already true, as if you’re already doing the action you desire. I’ve come up with my favorite 10 mantras—which I call the “Rock Your Inner Mama Mantras” —to share with clients. I’d love to share a few of them with you here. Notice that they are carefully worded to have you focus on something that you can control and not some pie-in-the-sky dream of changing someone else.

“I am giving myself compassion and permission to be imperfect.”
“I am prioritizing my relationships over being right.”
“I am flexible, firm, and kind with my children and myself.”

Whether or not these particular mantras resonate with you, it’s a great idea to find some short phrases that you can call on in the heat of a moment. I like to print mine out and post them on the fridge. I have one client who posts them in the bathroom because that’s where she goes when things get rough. Taking a glance at my mantras when my children are whining at my feet or when the mealtime routine is turning into a disaster helps ground me in my own personal truth. For me, permission to be imperfect goes a long way in those moments. What goes a long way with you in those difficult parenting moments?

Other tricks of the trade? Try adding a mantra into your calendar for next week and see what happens when you get a digital reminder that says, for example, “I am grateful for everything I have.” Are you into reward charts? Why not give yourself a sticker every time a mantra helps you avert a dreaded tantrum (your child’s or your own)? Then go treat yourself to something special when the chart is full. It doesn’t really matter what you do. What matters is that you stay engaged in the ever-challenging and ever-inspiring gift of parenting. Hmm. Could that be a new mantra?