A Mommy Time-Out

Klimt, Sleeping Woman detail

I really admire parenting and education author Alfie Kohn and the way he challenges us as parents to reconsider our basic assumptions about how best to raise kind, considerate, polite human beings.  You can find my quick-read summary of his book, Unconditional Parenting in the AP Book Snapshots section of this site.

Ever since I read this book, I’ve reconsidered “time outs” — the almost universally accepted parenting tool considered to be gentle behavior management.  And alas, Alfie suggests we rethink what it means to manage, and thereby manipulate/control our children’s actions altogether.

This is no easy task.

When my second baby was born and I was out-of-my-mind tired from the triple high-need combination of a newborn, 2-year-old, and teenage step-daughter, I lost my patience a few times when I couldn’t master getting both girls to sleep at the same time in the afternoons.  Twice I succumbed to a time-out for my toddler. Both were no more than 30 seconds in our large walk-in closet with me holding the door.  I felt so awful both times knowing that she was in complete distress and, as Alfie points out, experiencing my withdrawal of love.

So I haven’t done a time out since and hope that my well of patience deepens for my second angel so she never has to experience that. I’ve succumbed to all kinds of “if you do this, you can have that” parenting moves — but I’ll save that for another post.

Tonight, I’m calling a Time Out for Me.

Not to withdraw love from anyone in my family.  Not to indirectly punish anyone.  But to simply love and care for myself.  For the first time in 3 1/2 years, I’m going to sleep BY MYSELF. Just me, my favorite pillow, a big cozy blanket and my couch.  Holy CROW.  I hope the glass of wine I’m about to pour for myself will support my strong desire to experience 8 hours straight of uninterrupted sleep.  But I will be thrilled if I score 6 hours before my now highly-conditioned, middle-of-the-night wake(s).

I looked in the mirror today and the frazzled hair, droopy red-eyes and puffed up cold-sore lip staring back at me said, “It’s time.”

Time for this Mama to get some serious rest.

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3 Responses to “A Mommy Time-Out”

  1. Mammydiaries says:

    Oh wow… such a good idea. And how the hell did my image appear in your mirror?!?!?!?

  2. Christi says:

    How did it go? I dream of sleeping by myself, but instead find myself sandwiched between two little snorers. I just miss the days when I could read in bed and it was something other than picture books!

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