One of the worst preconceived notions about motherhood, is that it is always good. It’s not. In fact, any person who is surrounded by children for more than a few hours at a time- is responsible for feeding them, has to change them, answer their every whim, deal with arguments, tempers, and the constant emotional breakdowns of people under 4 feet tall – knows that there comes a time when mom needs a timeout too! Sadly, far too many mothers who are on the brink of losing it, and who no longer know how to talk to another adult without using that high pitched baby voice – don’t take enough time for themselves and feel guilty for even thinking about getting in their minivan and driving away. Alone. Anywhere. Anywhere but home, at least.
New flash! You ARE NORMAL! You aren’t a bad mother because you are severely tired of playing house, doctor, Barbie’s or Super Ninja turtles. You aren’t a bad mom because you don’t feel like building yet another block tower. You aren’t a bad mom because you want to read People Magazine rather than If you give a Pig a Pancake (for the 55th time today). In fact, if you were able to constantly be a soldier to the needs of your brood without ever tiring or desiring something ‘adult,’ there would be something wrong with you. After all, that is what makes you a grandma…not a mom!
Every parenting expert in the world will tell you that mom needs a timeout too! In fact, it is common knowledge that if you aren’t able to take care of yourself properly – you will never be able to take care of your kids in the most compassionate manner possible. Getting your own personal timeouts is critical to your sanity!
Additionally, there comes a point in your child’s life when they too, need to realize that mom is a person and not the energizer bunny. If you raise your children meeting their every need at all moments and constantly neglecting yourself the ramifications are fierce. Not only will you pass this expectation of helicopter parenting on to your children, who will then suffer from self-neglect when they become parents; but you also fail to enable your children to learn that you too, are important. How can your children respect you as their mother, if you don’t take the time to respect yourself?
There is nothing wrong with mom needing something or wanting something that is separate from her children. Plus, these little 'somethings' that can brighten your day, such as an afternoon manicure, or a weekly massage – also help you to recharge your inner batteries so you have more to give. Not to mention, reduce stress. When your stress levels are lower, you are more apt to be patient, less likely to yell or scream, and will have more physical and mental energy to help you not just ‘get through the day with your kids,’ but rather to enjoy your quality time with your children.
And experts suggest that mommy time outs are good for the marriage too, especially in homes where mom stays home with the kids. Not only does a mommy timeout, enable dad to show off his parenting skills, but it also allows the children to function with the duality of trusting in both parents. Often, in stay at home parent households, kids become so reliant upon one parent, that they don’t think they can function without him or her around. And the dependency strikes a vicious circle of dependency and co-dependency, in which the dependency becomes so bad that mom is afraid to leave, and dad feels uneasy about being alone with his children. So getting out as often as possible, is really a good thing. Even if you take your evening run every day, or choose to go grocery shopping by yourself (and why wouldn’t you) - these timeouts are great for everyone involved.
You might also overlook the fact that your children, also tire of YOU! Believe it or not, you might not be as exciting or fun to be around as you think. Especially if you are burning the maternal candle at both ends. You are likely fidgety, annoyed, easily aggravated and a bit grumpy. (Children can do that to you!)
The perfect time out for you is anything that you enjoy. Regardless of how busy you are, you must pencil yourself into the family schedule. You might enjoy going out with friends or prefer something simpler such as going to the gym. If you have a hobby or passion in life, don’t put it on hold when the kids are little – lest you feel resentful. Instead, mold your mommy timeout around the things in life that you enjoy, which make you feel good – not about being a mother, but about being a woman!
Another hint, is that during the daytime – if you feel your blood pressure rising and you need an escape, do so at home. There is NOTHING wrong with telling the kids that it is naptime and telling them that they need to lie in their beds for 1 hour, whether they go to sleep or not. During this time, you can retreat to your room, do some yoga, watch a soap opera in peace – or anything that doesn’t involve taking care of the kids. Plus, setting limits with your children and teaching them to busy themselves alone…are great life lessons that you will be emphasizing in your home. Start this routine early in life, and your kids too will likely enjoy the time to retreat and take a timeout from grumpy mom!
Listen, parenting is NOT easy. Moms today have so many high expectations of themselves and have bought into this fairy tale that once you become a mother, you will want nothing more than to dote on and take care of your children! Not so! Being a mother doesn’t make you whole – being happy does!