Friday, March 18, 2011

Time Out!

Ever have one of those days where you wish you could give yourself a time out just so you can take a break from the difficulties of raising small children? Yep, I had one of those days yesterday.

Once and a while I just find the job to be overwhelming and find that I'm reacting in the wrong way. It's like a movie where the train is headed for the bridge ahead that has collapsed and the hero is no where to be found. If you're on the train you're screwed. Well sometimes I feel like I'm the one driving that train and the kids are the passengers and we're all screwed!

I find that most days I have these issues is when I've had less than normal sleep. Yesterday I was working on about 4 1/2 hours of sleep. For me that's not even near adequate. Before kids I was an 8hr sleeper almost every single night. I was able to get up at 5:45am to be at work at 7am (a time I requested to be the start of my work day!). Now I find that 8hrs is a dream but I MUST get at least 6hrs to be decently functional the next day. The days I don't get that I find myself to be very short on patience. I'm irritable, depressed and nothing seems to go my way.

Yesterday didn't start well. Not only had I very little sleep, DS came into our room to announce he pooped in his pull-up which is a step back in his training process as the past few weeks he's been waking up and going to the bathroom by himself. Yes I know *eye rolling* accidents happen but for me it was a frustrating start to the day as I hate the feeling like I'm starting over again.

After that the day just went downhill and I was leading the charge on the fastest sled. I think my lack of sleep set the mood for the day because I didn't have patience for DS's singing at the top of his lungs, or DD's running away from me when I said it was time to leave the indoor playground (not the best selection of activity with my energy levels so low). My mood just got worse and worse as I looked at my To Do list and realized not only was I behind but I had no energy or desire to even touch the To Do list.

The kids started to behave worse, they smelled defeat on me and were on the attack. I was ready to cry. And then at some point mid-afternoon I just gave up. I put on the tv, gave them some popcorn and walked away. Basically I gave myself a time out because I was tired of yelling.  It was like that when my dad showed up at 5pm to babysit them. I didn't even care how it looked that the house was a mess and the kids were being babysat by the tv. I was in self preservation mode and yet feeling super guilty for being such a bad mom that I had to give myself a time out.
I had to leave the house to sign DD up to soccer and then attend her kindergarten info night. I always keep a book in my purse or car but this time I took a second out to grab another book off the shelf I've been meaning to start for a while and never seem to find the time (mainly because it's a parenting book and I don't feel like homework!).
I showed up at the soccer registration 15 minutes before it even opened so I grabbed my fictional book and started to read. After a few minutes I started to feel guilty I wasn't reading the parenting book; after the day I had I really SHOULD be looking for help and be reading the parenting book.
I picked up the parenting book and started to read. Right away I identified with the author and felt I should have read this book a long time ago. She talks about how raising toddlers is physically exhausting while raising preschoolers is mentally exhausting...and I have one of each!!  She talks about how in toddler years you're running after them as they're running into traffic, and in preschool years you're now negotiating with your 4yr old to get them to do things, and how time outs don't really work on them anymore.
Relief. Someone else gets it! I'm living in two different worlds of difficult at the same time! I'm stressing about jr. kindergarten vs. regular kindergarten, about signing up for both soccer and swimming and wondering how many activities are too many, and trying to explain the mechanics of how babies are born without going into TOO much detail.  But I'm also worrying about my kid darting away from me in a parking lot, falling down the stairs, the ear they keep tugging on saying it hurts, and the order I need to run my errands as I need to make sure I'm in a store with a public bathroom on hourly intervals so we don't have any potty training accidents.  It's exhausting and you pile all that on top of getting no sleep and you get a mom with so little patience and energy she's giving herself a time out due to poor parenting.
Sitting in that car reading about the author's experiences, and other moms experiences I realized I need to just write the day off and start fresh the next day. It made me feel relief that I wasn't alone, but also understanding that this will pass; I will catch up on sleep and will be able to deal with the kids in a more patient manner.  
Parenting will be challenging at all ages but as long as I realize I'm not alone and there's sources like parenting books, chat forums, and other mom blogs I'll feel connected and supported.
I'm sure there will still be days I need to give myself a time out but I'm hoping I can at least recognize those moods/situations sooner so I can manage them better. By being able to keep things simple but keep them occupied with activities they love I can be the hero and stop the train in time before it falls off the cliff.  


  1. Toddler are known to make plenty of mistakes, its part of their learning process. Once they get it, it gets better. As hard as it may seem right now, its the time you will hold precious. Mine are 10 and 13, and it has gone by so quickly.

    Its hard to believe when your in the middle of it. Take care of yourself, that way you have more to give. Its the one thing I recommend to all mothers. Find a way to carve time to yourself. It does get better and before you know it, they start school and life changes.

  2. I hear you and I only have one. Remember the days when you didn't sleep and you could always "catch-up" tomorrow? With children, that never happens.

    Because of my recent mood swings, my hubby has helped me assemble an artillary of weapons to use on such occasions:

    - collage materials
    - playdough
    - a few new books (only one at a time are presented)
    - stickers and paper
    - toy "traps" (at night the toys are set up in an interesting way to appeal to her so I can catch a few more minutes of sleep)

    With these trappings I can have a time-out and not feel as guilty (I too struggle with the tv-watching thing and I beat myself up when I have to resort to it). These alternatives help ease the guilt.

  3. Glad I'm not the only one :)

    It's been a hard few days but in just 3 more days I get to drop them off to Grandpa and Grandma's house and take a bit of a break. Sleep, glorious sleep is 1st on the agenda.

  4. oh, i can TOTALLY relate to you on this post, and I TOTALLY appreciate your honesty about it all! I have a hard time being honest about "these kind of days", lol!

    I have a 21 month old and an almost 4 year old and they WEAR ME OUT!!!! The 4 year old especially....he's very busy and VERY stubborn! There have been occasions where I have gone to bed feeling like a failure because I let the bad behavior get the best of me.

    It's not easy, that's for sure! But we are all experiencing this mommyhood together, and we ALWAYS understand...