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!

Renew Your Soul

Tree Relax300 CMYKThe soul.  Elusive yet obvious.  Like the wind, you don’t see it, but you see the effects of it, and that’s how you know it’s there.  I can tell when my soul needs some renewing, a bit of polishing.  Some loving attention so that my mind and body all work in harmony with it and I feel centered, balanced, whole.

When I miss my Mommy Time-Out, I feel my soul getting a little dull, yearning for attention from me.  So I take my Time-Out and do something to get back in touch with me, with my soul.  Some things are a means to an end, like exercising, writing, going to a movie.  And some things I do are more direct.  Sometimes my Mommy Time-Out is a time when I can just be still and listen – to the noises around me, the people I come in contact with, my inner voice.  I am brought back into the present moment.  I stop thinking (or caring) about what I have to do tomorrow, or what I wish I had or had not done last week.

When I come back to my family after a MTO like that, I see my daughters differently.  I see them as the five and three year olds that they are, and not the self-sufficient young adults I sometimes wish they were when things get hectic.  And I can then enjoy their childhood, that fleeting time of their lives I will never get back.  And when I sit and enjoy their childishness, and soak it in, literally, my soul is fed, all over again.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  And I am redefined.

Do you ever feel like your soul could use some renewing?  How do you do it?  How are you afterwards?

Enjoy Pre-School

My sisters told me once that I would be so happy when my daughters start pre-school.  I thought they were insensitive for saying that.  Just the thought of my children going off, alone and independent, scared me.  What would they do without me?  All the “what if’s” came rushinBench Relax RGB copyg into my mind until the day I suddenly had four hours to myself.  No longer did I have to fit a Mommy Time-Out during nap time or a chance visit by family.  I  realized I now had time to do the things I wanted to do without little ones tugging at me or crying for my attention. I was able to take an online class once a week. I met with friends for lunch, and practiced yoga.  I loved every minute of those four hours because I knew how much I needed to take care of me and get back to doing those very things I did before I became a mother.

My sisters remind me once in a while of the look of shock on my face when they first told me how happy I would be to get my MTOs once the girls were in pre-school. I thought it was insensitive of them to suggest I would be happy my children were away from me so I could selfishly do things for myself.  But what no one told me was that it is NOT selfish at all.  It is for my own good, and the good of my children, that I have my Mommy Time-Outs and get back to who I was before diapers and bottles.

To this day, I appreciate my Mommy Time-Outs more then ever.  And then, as now, my daughters love school. They are able to develop socially and independently, make and keep friends, and discover oh so many interests and hobbies.  And you know what?  So am I!

What are your children doing when you are on your Mommy Time-Out?

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?

When Dirty Dishes Are Okay

Dirty Dishes or Stressed-Out Me?  Hmmm....

Dirty Dishes or Stressed-Out Me? Hmmm….

I really never understood why people felt the need to suggest to me, “When your baby sleeps, you should sleep.”  It was the first time I became a mother and I thought it made perfect sense.  After all, I was lacking sleep because I was nursing every 2 to 3 hours. I could barely stay awake and take care of myself now that another human was relying on me. Of course I was going to sleep!  Well, I soon realized that when the baby was sleeping I had NO TIME to sleep!  What no one told me was that when the baby was sleeping it was the only time I had to clean, do laundry and other daily household chores.  By the time I was finished and ready for that nap, guess what? Yup! The baby was up for her next feeding.

Eventually I got to the point where I could not keep up with the house because I was too exhausted from lack of sleep. I began to realize I needed to get back to taking care of me. It did not matter if my house was upside-down or the dishes were piling up. I napped for as long as my baby napped, and I did not feel guilty. When a friend or family member came over, I took advantage of their visit, and they were happy to have the time with the baby. I took longer showers and actually shaved my legs. I knew exactly what I needed to get myself back to being the woman I was prior to having children. Sometimes, if I didn’t feel like cooking that night, I asked my husband to stop and pick up dinner.

I was not ashamed of admitting that I needed the help. Anyone who offered to cook, help around the house, run errands for me, I gladly accepted and looked at it as a blessing. I made my MTO happen as much and as often as I could when the help was offered.

No, no one told me that as a mother my first instinct would be to NOT take care of myself, but that is exactly what happens.  We mothers must make a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to have a Mommy Time-Out.  Yes, make sure the children are cared for, and when they are in capable, trusted hands, take the time you need to find yourself again so you can return to your family rested, centered and more capable of caring for them.

What are some things you wish someone had told you about motherhood?