I had a long exhausting day with my boys shopping for items for our new house. The boys weren’t necessarily behaving badly, but they were at the point of being done. They had been arguing with each other, they had been making a slight spectacle of themselves in the store, and they were just being loud. Obnoxiously loud. They hadn’t really done anything wrong, but I was tired as well and just needing a break.
There was no need to “punish” them and make them have a time-out. So I did the next best thing. I put myself in time-out. I went to my bedroom and ate my dinner and watched some television with my boyfriend. They ate their dinner and watched some television and played on their computers. They were quiet and kept to themselves for the most part. A few times they came to ask me to do something (that they very well could do on their own). I reminded them that I was in time-out and needed some time to myself.
Now, I have shared custody of my children and have them 50% of the time, their dad has them just as equally. I don’t get to see them every day like a lot of parents. And while I know that I should make the most of the time I have with them, I have tremendous amount of “mommy-guilt” for taking time to myself. I know it’s an irrational thought, but one that pushes to the front of my mind all the time. I wrote about the illustrious “Mommy Guilt” here back in December. I’m a work in progress, what can I say?
But there are a few things that I’ve come to realize about putting myself in “Mommy Time-Out.”
It’s absolutely NECESSARY to take some time for myself.
I know you’re saying, “Well, I already KNEW that!” Then great! You’re one step ahead of me! While in my mind I KNOW it’s necessary, living that out is SO difficult. I don’t get to see my children every day like the seemingly “normal” mommies out there. I already struggle with the guilt of being a divorced, co-parenting mama. But I have found that taking some time for myself, however short or long it may be, is necessary for my day-to-day functioning as a mom.
It doesn’t have to be a time of doing ANYTHING.
I’m always on the go. From one event to the next to the next. Picking my boys up at their father’s house or school, getting groceries, cleaning up the living room so we can find the couch to sit on, etc etc. Just as every other mother out there is on the go, I feel like sometimes I can’t stop. Or I should say DON’T stop. It’s not necessarily that I CAN’T, but I just won’t. I feel like if I don’t have planned activities with my boys every moment I have them that I’m disappointed them somehow.
And even if I take some time for myself, I’m constantly thinking, “Well, the dishes need to be put away. There are 3 bags of trash on the patio to take out. I REALLY need to dust and do laundry.” STOP!! Just relax, and don’t do anything. My boyfriend will attest to my constant on-the-g0 mindset. After having bilateral carpal tunnel surgery last year, he left me a note on the 3rd day of my recovery (after he had to go back to work) that explicitly told me NOT to clean. He knows me!
But seriously, my “Mommy Time-Out” could just be a time of watching my favorite TV show for 30 minutes and eating a cookie. It could be taking an extra long shower with no one rushing me out or fearing the hot water will run out before I’m done. I don’t have to DO anything, except be alone.
It requires TEAMWORK and understanding.
My boys are still young (7&9), but they are starting to come to the realization that being alone for a little while, i.e. a time-out, is not necessarily a bad thing all the time. They are starting to see that they need time away from their brother to just do what they want to do. The younger annoys the older and the older is starting to act, well, older! Now that they see that they enjoy the time to themselves, it helps them recognize the need for me to do the same.
This means, that we all have to work together to give each other our space. My children need to work together to get along and be at least cordial to each other while I’m in my time-out. They are learning the need for self-control, problem solving, and conflict resolution. They are learning to do more on their own, and learn independence. Those are qualities I want to instill in my children regardless of being in a time-out.
A self-imposed “Mommy Time-Out” has been one of the best things I have started doing. I have only done it a few times, and it’s still a foreign concept to me. But, I’m learning how important it is for me to function, and function efficiently on a day-to-day basis raising my boys!