Step-Mommy Time-Out

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

I feel that Step Mothers most definitely need a Mommy Time-Out more than ever when they are raising children that are not their own.  My cousin, Lucy, is currently married to Mike, who has two children, ages 15 and 7, from his first wife.  Lucy has two daughters of her own, ages 6 & 8 years old.

For the past 6 months Lucy has had some tough dealings with her husband’s 15 year-old daughter. She has recently found out that the daughter doesn’t like her because she feels Lucy is taking her father away from her.  Not only is the teen feeling neglected by her father, but she is trying to find her own identity and all the challenges that come with being a teenage girl.

Most recently the girl has tried to run away from home twice in one month, though she doesn’t get very far because she is not old enough to support herself and really hasn’t any where to go.

Needless to say, Mike’s blood pressure has gone thru the roof and there has been so much more tension between Lucy and him.

Probably the biggest challenge is that they both have two different styles of parenting and they cannot agree on a common ground, much less see each other’s view.  In the meantime the 15 year old girl is out of control and has been trying to run the household.

Now if all of this doesn’t scream “Take a Mommy Time-Out!” I don’t know what does.  And that is exactly what Lucy has done.  She told me she would leave the situation behind her as she took her Mommy Time-Out, even at times when the teen girl couldn’t be trusted to stay put or behave.  She knew that if she didn’t get her me-time in, her frustration, lack of patience and anger would only make matters worse.  Of course, she took what measures she could to protect all the children involved, having people she trusted to watch over them while she removed herself, but the point is, she made it happen.

Lucy told me that if it wasn’t for her me-time to think things out and clear her head, she would never have been able to go back to Mike with possible solutions and at least more patience.

Finally Mike took control of the situation and altered his discipline technique with the teen girl, which  she has responded well to. The household is now as close to normal as it has been in a long while.

We have to be present for our children and the only way is to take care of our mind, body and soul. Mothers, step or otherwise, should have a consistent MTO at least once a week, preferably twice if possible.

What direct benefits have you seen coming from taking your Mommy Time-Outs?  We would love your feed back!

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?

The Fall & Rise of the MTO

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Image courtesy of debspoons at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You should know from the onset that while Colleen and I have learned the value of taking a Mommy Time-Out, we are not above falling in to old habits and routines.  Case in point:

I recently noticed that I have been on edge with my coworkers, friends and love ones.  I asked myself, “where is this coming from?  Is it that time of the month or am I just too busy taking care of others and not me?  Have I once again become the mother that says ‘yes’ to everyone and wants her children to be in extra activities because she’s afraid they will lose out?”  Well, yes, I have.  I fell back into thinking my children have to attend every birthday party and, of course, I have to be at every church function and attend parties with my friends as well as immediate family.

It got to the point that my mind became so fogged that I could barely remember what I did last week.  And if you asked me what I’ve been doing to so occupy myself, my honest answer would be “I don’t know.”  It was all just ‘stuff’ that in the end just used up my time, wore me our mentally and physically, and turned me into an irritable…woman.

At least I knew enough to see all the classic signs of being overwhelmed and Mommy Time-Out deficient.

As soon as I realized I needed to take care of myself before I had a nervous breakdown, I went on a break at work and put myself in a mental Time-Out.  I meditated for 20 minutes, and in so doing I inspired myself to stop leaving myself out of the equation. I needed to fill that void of having my Mommy Time-Out and do something I wanted to do for myself and not what others were expecting of me.

I then called my sister and asked her to meet me at the local nail shop for a mani/pedi.  Little did I know that she was also in need of her MTO.  We had a great time, laughing and talking about  how we want to do it all without any help because nobody will do it as good as we will.  Of course, we think this is a very silly way of thinking because not only have we not given our families the opportunity to help around the house, we were robbing ourselves of some great MTO times.  Needless to say, we left there fixed on getting back to our Mommy Time-Out agenda!

What inspires your MTOs?

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 Body

Changing old habits can lead to a healthier you

Changing old habits can lead to a healthier you

Our bodies carry us through this life we have been given.  If our body is not working well, our lives in general are negatively affected.  We all have heard “you are what you eat” and I am here to tell you it is  absolutely true.  I was married for 13 years and the last 5 years of my marriage, not realizing how depressed and unhappy I was, gained a lot of weight, eating to cover up my depression.  I am 5’2 and I weighed 140 pounds.  If you ask any health professional, that is slightly obese.

I did not feel good carrying this extra weight and was tired a lot of the time.  My knees were starting to bother me and my children would say that my stomach was their pillow. Carrying all that extra weight placed me in a category of heart attack, stroke and other health issues, and I did not want to be in that category any longer!  Not to mention the fact that I want to be there to see my children get married someday and be able to meet my grandchildren. To be able to do this I needed to replace my old habits of eating with new ones.  So I finally made a conscious decision, joined Weight Watchers, and committed my weekly MTO to attend Weight Watchers’ weekly meeting.

I loved going there and learning about proper portions, not eating my children’s leftovers, and better choices in food.  In the process I made many new friends, learned self-discipline,  and was continually supported by the others there.  Every time I lost a little weight I was encouraged to continue.  I reached my goal weight in 3 months by losing 25 pounds!  At the end of it, I promised myself I would be in the best shape of my life in my 40’s.

Taking care of my body has allowed me to see that I am important and my children see me making healthy choices for myself as well as for them.  My friends and family were so encouraging and saw all the weight I had lost that I inspired them to join Weight Watchers.  So much good came out of me taking a weekly Mommy Time-Out committed solely to better my physical health.

If you are carrying extra weight and would like to lose some of it, do you have a plan? Have you thought of using your Mommy Time-Out as a time to work out with a friend, attend a weight loss class or start to build a regular exercise regime for yourself?  What challenges do you face in pursuing these goals?