I want to talk about something that is pretty important to me: Time-Outs.
But not time-outs for your child. For you.
That's right. Mommy time-outs.
This might seem like a foreign concept for you moms with more than one child. "Time out? Really? Don't you have to have time to have a time out?"
I want to argue that this is one of the most important things you can do for your children. I say this as a teacher, who spends time with many children, all day, every day. About once a week, I need to have a night off to drink some wine, read a book, give myself a pedicure, go shopping....something that doesn't involve children. This allows me to collect myself and prepare for the next round of crying/snot/messy art/etc.
I also say this as a mother, and this might be more important. If you're an exhausted mother reading this, read closely.
Learn to take at least 30 minutes every week that is just for you. Not 30 minutes for a meeting at your church. Not 30 minutes to pay bills online alone, without kids climbing all over you, begging for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (yes, I have been there.) Not even 30 minutes talking to your significant other. 30 minutes for just you. Read a book. Take a hot bath. Go shopping at your favorite store, even if you don't buy anything. Call a friend. Take a nap (my favorite choice.)
Let me just tell you, this is important for you....but it might be even more important for your children. I can say that, from personal experience, when I'm exhausted/stressed, I don't react to June in the best way. I'm more on edge, I give her less time to respond to my requests, and I tend to yell more (I hate yelling.) I'm sure I'm not the only mom who is guilty of this. June can tell when I'm feeling this way, and it effects her behavior, too. She is tense, crabby, and clingy. Then we're both in a foul mood, and it just goes downhill from there.
I've been at the grocery store/library/mall/park and witnessed moms who need a time-out. I want to go up to them and say, "Can I watch your kids for 1/2 hour so you can go take a hot shower and troll Facebook in peace?" That might be a little bit creepy, but I really do want to tell them that they need to give themselves a break. A well-deserved break.
Mothers, you have no idea how much your kids need you to take a break for them. They need you to be well-rested so you can run around with them. They need you to catch up on Facebook and the news so when you're at the park, you can play with them instead of being on your phone. They need you to be relaxed so that you don't get caught up in a battle that won't matter and you won't even remember 4 hours from now.
Maybe this seems unattainable for you. Maybe you have a husband/significant other that works full time and you're a stay-at-home mom. Call your friends, even your single friends. Tell them you need them to come over and watch your kids for 30 minutes. In return, make them dinner. Buy them a groupon. Pass along your secret chili recipe that no one but you and Gramma know. I promise you that your friends (with or without kids) will recognize the desperation in your voice. They will rise to the occasion. Some day in the future, they will call you with the same desperation and you will also rise to the occasion for them. Ask your spouse. Ask for 30 minutes a week that is just for you.
You deserve to be well-rested. You deserve to sit on the deck and have a cup of coffee without worrying about getting 2nd degree burns on your hands from toddlers mistaking you for a jungle gym. You deserve to sit in the bathtub without getting a note slid under the door that says "PLEASE OPEN THE DOOR SO I CAN ASK YOU FOR 5 GAZILLION SWEETIES AND TURN YOUR TUB INTO AN ENCHANTED OCEAN." You deserve to troll Facebook without posting an accidental status update of "djaslrueoaijfklsadfj77777777777." You deserve some time for yourself. Your kids deserve you to take some time for yourself.
So go ahead. Give yourself a time-out. You can thank me later.