Confessions of a Mommy Time-Out Advocate

Image courtesy of farconville at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of farconville at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I didn’t take my Mommy Time-Out last week.  Coming from someone whose life is being spent advocating other moms to be sure to take regular, weekly MTOs, some would call me a hypocrite.  I’ll just call myself human and leave it at that.

Sometimes life has other plans, and so do the people around you that you depend on to watch your kids so you can take a good MTO.  That’s what happened to me last week.  My husband had a project at work that took more of his time than usual, my mother was out of state, and my friends were all busy planning their children’s birthday parties, fighting colds and fevers, or all of the above.

As for me, quite frankly, I forgot.  The week literally got away from me.  One day I wake up and it’s Monday, and before I know it, it’s the end of the week and I’m writing this article confessing to my MTO miss.  It seemed every second of every day last week was filled with something pressing: deadlines, interviews, Girl Scout meeting, classes for my two youngest…

These aren’t excuses, just a reality all us moms live through.  Sometimes we just can’t make it happen.

However, something amazing happened last week as well.  I wasn’t stressed.  I look back and I can’t think of a single time that I went ballistic on my kids, my husband or anyone else.  I used to, when I didn’t get my regular MTOs, but last week that didn’t happen.  Last week, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say I had my MTO after all.

After some thought, I figured it all out.  It was all my regular MTOs up to that point.  It was like I had built up a reserve of patience, calm and balance every week prior when I did have a Mommy Time-Out.

My plan is to be back on track next week.  My mom is back in town and jonesin’ to see her grandchildren and I intend to take full advantage of that fact!  Everyone wins, because my girls have missed their Oma, she needs her fix, and I need my MTO.

I know that in the future, if I miss an MTO once in a while, I will be okay, as long as I have as many consistent MTOs in between.  It’s empowering to see the Mommy Time-Out concept at work and working.

From personal experience I can tell you that regular MTOs really do work – in so many ways.   So make a commitment to yourself to make sure they happen often and regularly, and see the benefits in your life!

 

Back To School Mommy Time-Outs!

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The new school year is here!  In the next couple of weeks (depending on where you live) some if not all of our children will be returning to school!

Whether all or just one of our children are headed to school, it will now be a little bit easier for us to take some regular Mommy Time-Outs.  At the very least, it is one less child to have someone to babysit and entertain.  At the most, more free days to have some time for ourselves!  Hooray!

No doubt we have all spent the last few weeks planning for school – buying school supplies, clothes, learning new schedules and bus routes.  There’s just one more thing we need to do.  Plan our regular Mommy Time-Outs!  We can’t forget ourselves in all of this preparation.

For me, I am asking my mom if she can commit at least 2 days per week to come over and watch my two youngest who are not in school yet.  One day I will spend running errands, making calls, working on my business, and the other?  You guessed it!  Mommy Time-Out!

We should emphasize, too, that consistency is key.  Everyone is on a regular schedule, so why shouldn’t our Mommy Time-Outs?  The more MTOs we have, especially regular weekly ones (at least), the more often our kids will come home from school to a more relaxed mommy who is able to give her undivided and very patient attention!

What are your plans this school year for your regular Mommy Time-Outs?  We’d love to hear your ideas!!

Moms Helping Moms

Image courtesy of Craftyjoe at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Craftyjoe at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have a very good friend named Sally who become a parent all over again because her son and daughter-in-law could not get their life together.  I ran into her while I was grocery shopping and she looked very tired and overwhelmed.  She caught me up on what had happened in the last year of her life.  Sally said her grandson came to live with her when he was two weeks old.   She told me she felt she was not prepared to take on the responsibility but she also knew this was the right thing to do.

She admitted to me that she had forgotten how much work it was taking care of an infant, from changing diapers to feeding at all hours of the night. I asked her who was helping her or at least giving her a break once in a while?  She said she has nobody, it is only her.

I offered my services and told her I had two daughters that would be great company for her grandson.  She could drop off the baby for 6 hours while she went and had a Time-Out for herself.  She was in tears, “You would do that for me?”  Absolutely, I told her, anything I can do to help.

Sally said there was only one problem – she had no idea what to do with herself for 6 hours.  I can help with that, too, I told her.  I then called my friend, Cindy, who is a masseuse and asked if she were willing to give a free message to a friend that was in desperate need.  Cindy readily agreed and plans were made.

When she came to pick up her grandson later that day, Sally was so encouraged that now she is taking her MTO’s on a weekly basis.  She saw the importance of it and how good it made her feel to take care of herself and in doing so she could be a better parent.  Mommy Time-Out in action!

What friend or family member do you feel needs an MTO and how can you offer your services?

We’re All In This Together

Coming in August 2013, Mommy Time-Out will be publishing extended articles in a new and amazing magazine – Glimpse California.  Be sure to subscribe at http://www.glimpsecali.com/ to read more in-depth Mommy Time-Out articles and get the latest Glimpse California updates.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

“It Takes A Village”, “No Man (or Woman!) Is An Island”, and my personal favorite “Together We Achieve That Which No One Can Achieve Alone.”

These are all slogans that emphasize the reality of raising children – we all, every one of us, need other people if we are going to have consistent, quality Mommy Time-Outs so that we can be better parents to our children.

Can you make things happen by yourself?  Of course you can. You do it all the time.  And single parents out there know all too well what it means to “go it alone.”  But I bet even they have a babysitter’s number handy, have at least one child registered at a daycare or community group or a family member to help watch the kids while mom or dad are at work.  In other words, while we can definitely get things done by ourselves, we can get a LOT more done, and be more effective, when we have a support group around us.

And the great thing about support groups is that they go both ways.  Yes, the other parents/friends/family are there for you, but guess what? You are also there for them.

Now, I know that to some of you this may seem like a big commitment, but surprisingly it isn’t, especially if the person(s) supporting you have kids of their own.  When I started trading kid-watching time with other parents, I found it was actually just as easy – if not easier – than when it was just my own children I was watching.  Why?  Simply put, automatic playdate!  Their kids kept my kids busy, they all wore each other out, and I was able to have a bit of peace and quiet while they played in the next room.

What if they don’t have children of their own to trade time with?  Often, believe it or not, just time with your kids is payment enough for some – like grandma, aka “Oma” in our house.  Other times I have given back by watching a friend’s dog while she was out of town, or simply just paid my single, financially struggling friends some money.  Regardless of who I reciprocated with, I always felt better knowing they were getting something they really needed.

I think it goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway, that whomever you decide to ask to watch your kids, make sure it is someone who has proven to you time and again they can be trusted around children, are responsible, and are healthy enough to manage your child(ren) while you are away.

So make a list of all the people in your life that you trust to watch your children, give them a call, and start setting up a support group with this simple narrative: “Hey, you want to get some time (or money) for yourself? Let’s help each other out!”  Tell them your idea of trading “playdates” or babysitting for x, and then start scheduling.

We can raise our children by ourselves, yes, but having a trusted support group to help share the burden will go a long way in making you a more balanced, effective, patient and rested parent because that support group will help you take your much-needed, well-deserved Mommy Time-Outs.  Just as important, you will give to your friends and family something they really need, whether it’s money, time with your kids, or an overdue “me-time”.

Do you have a support group already in place? How did that happen?  If not, what obstacles are challenging you to be a part of one?  We want to hear from you!

Add A Little Seasoning

A14_0136No one told me that the older I was when I had my children, the more my heart and my body would be at odds with what I wanted to do.  By the time I turned 38 years old, I had an infant and a toddler.  Both of my girls were still in diapers and I was changing them around the clock. There was little sleep, especially at night, and when there was, it was always interrupted.  Ironically, in my twenties I never batted an eye at staying up until 1 or 2 a.m. partying or just watching late night movies, then getting up at 6 am the next day for work.  But now??

So I needed a strategy.  Between the lack of sleep from the newborn and trying to keep up with my toddler, I decided to put them on the same eating and sleeping schedule.  It was the best thing I could have done for myself.  When they slept I took a cat nap, and began to exercise.  Having had two children back-to-back I’d lost my girly figure.  I was motivated to get myself in good shape, but also have enough energy throughout the day.  You see, Sofia, my oldest daughter, was walking and running and had no sense of fear.  She became extremely active and got into everything!  She wanted to play all the time.  If I had any hope of keeping up with them, I had to get into shape!

Of course, there were times when the girls weren’t accommodating to my new regime, so I adapted.  The times when the girls refused to take their naps, I put them in a double stroller and walked around my neighborhood. When my husband came home from work, I would leave the girls with him and walk with my neighbor, at least twice a week.  There were a couple of nights that my husband was on child duty while I went out with friends or just took a long bath.  You know that saying, “When mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy”?  He caught on to that real quick and made sure I was taking my MTO!

Yes, though it seems obvious that the older you get the harder it is to keep up with active children, no one told me of the struggle between what I wanted to do and what I could do.  But those little Mommy Time-Outs paid off in big ways.  I used that time to get in shape – body, mind and soul.  Fitting them in where and when I could was necessary and I am so glad I did – and so is my family, because I always came back to them refreshed and ready for the next family adventure!

What are you surprised to learn about yourself when you had your children?