Do you ever feel like you just need a break from parenting? If so, it’s probably because you do need a break. And let’s make it clear up front that needing a break is not a bad thing. It isn’t a reflection of your parenting, and it certainly isn’t a reflection of your love for your child. It’s a reflection of your very human needs. And those needs have to be met if you want to thrive as a parent. So, moms, let’s talk about why we all need a time out and how it can really help us throughout our day.
If you know me or even if you keep up with my blog, you might know that I have one super feisty little lady. My baby, who is now thirteen months, has been nothing less than a fireball from the day she was born. I shared an article a few months ago about what it looks like to love her so much it hurts. And that remains true for us. I love her so much it hurts. And, I love her so much it hurts.
What’s the difference? Well, the first is the natural, massive, over-the-moon love I have for her. It just is. No matter what, I will always feel that exponential love. The second, on the other hand, is the active love. It’s the verb. It’s the love that does. It’s the love the directs my choices with her on a daily basis. And it’s the love that hurts. Because it doesn’t always feel good to make the right choice in parenting.
In fact, sometimes it really feels like crap.
And to be honest, sometimes it’s draining.
Now, don’t get me wrong. That over-the-moon love I talked about leads me to keep on loving no matter how drained I am, but it’s never a good idea to stay in that place.
And here’s where it gets tricky for us stay-at-home moms.
We don’t really have a choice to physically take a break from our little ones. This mom gig is our full time job. And when you’re on the job you can’t just walk away whenever you want. So what gives?
We need a time out. (Even the ones of us that think we don’t— we do). And we don’t need that break because we are bored and restless or have been sitting at our desk for too long.
We need a break because we don’t even have the opportunity to be bored. We don’t get a chance to be restless, and we certainly don’t have a chance to sit for too long.
From the moment we wake up in the morning our minds are cluttered with a million thoughts, tasks, and feelings of our own. Then we lock eyes with our little ones and we are filled with all of their emotions as well. And then our minds start to scroll through a never ending checklist of the needs of our babies.
We operate in a “get it done, what’s next” sort of way. We move from one task to the next, often doing three or more of those tasks at a time, all while constantly being touched or hearing our name on repeat. When there’s a break from our name it’s usually for crying. And while most days this is just our normal and we do it on autopilot without skipping a beat, we all reach our limit from time to time.
And that’s okay.
But the problem is when we let ourselves get angry and frustrated, and we don’t realize we have reached our limit until it’s too late. Then we are irritated and bothered, and every little thing starts to bother us.
It’s only then that realize we should have taken a time out two hours sooner.
And that’s the thing— we need to take a time out before we let ourselves reach our breaking point.
But how? When it’s already nearly impossible to step away from your kids to go to the bathroom, how in the world is there space for a time out.
Well, here’s where it’s on you.
You, mama, need a time out. And only you can take care of yourself in such a way that you are prioritizing your needs. You are responsible for you. And owning that is the most important step. Because no one else can force you to take time for you. (I know this because my husband tried to force me and it never worked. I had to realize it on my own).
After you realize how important this is, however, you can take a few steps to make sure you have your time outs before you reach the end of your rope.
First of all, realize that a time out does not have to be physical. You don’t need to lock yourself in another room to get a break— but you can. (I may or may not have locked myself in the bathroom once when my baby was six months old. She was safe, I swear). If your baby is totally safe, then by all means, walk out of the room and give yourself a much needed break. Do whatever you need to do for five minutes to get a much needed reset.
But an even better break is a mental one. And this is the time out I want to encourage you to take.
When you recognize that you are leaning towards frustration, literally stop yourself. Choose to take a mental time out to collect yourself and take a deep breath. Your child may be screaming or pulling at your shirt, but as long as they are safe— ignore it. Give yourself a minute of you time. Shut everything else out and get your mind in a better place.
Taking a mental time out might not seem like enough, or to some it may even seem silly. But here’s the thing, taking a mental time out could be break you need in order to not snap at your kids. It could be the break that prevents you from tipping over the edge in frustration.
You can even take your mental time out a step further and speak out loud whatever it is you need to say. I know for me speaking that I am not going to get frustrated really helps. There’s something about taking a break to reset and literally saying it out loud— something about that really helps me start over with my attitude.
Whatever it looks like for you, take a time out before you reach your breaking point. Do it for your kids, but even more importantly, do it for you.