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?

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?

Wine Time not Whine Time

Here’s a fun idea for a refreshing MTO. I try and have a glass of wine with my sister, Arcie, and her neighbor Amy at least twice a month. It’s so refreshing to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and a glass of red wine. We enjoy our time without the kids and are able to get into deep discussions about world affairs, and best of all, we are not interrupted!  The best part of our Mommy Time-Out is being able to talk about what’s going on in our lives and the challenges we are having that week. It is so nice to have these types of relationships. Everything we share stays between us, and that is comforting.

What’s your favorite thing to do on your MTO? Or, if you haven’t had one in a while, what’s the thing you want to do most?