Mom needs a time out? Learn how to take care of yourself as a mom when you are stressed out and need a time out.
When Mom Needs a Timeout
The toddler has been up since the crack of dawn. You tried to help her fall back asleep in her room for a while, but that’s a no go. You take her downstairs to make her breakfast, but she doesn’t want anything that you offer.
As you’re trying to diffuse the potential meltdown, your preschooler walks in, pours himself a bowl of cereal, spills the milk, and then lets you know that he used the bathroom but couldn’t find toilet paper.
You know he didn’t wipe the seat or even attempt to wash his hands.
Meanwhile, your daughter walks in crying because her older brother told her she couldn’t play on his Minecraft world. He’s angry because she called him an ‘idiot’.
All of this happens before 7:30 am.
You feel like snapping, but you try desperately to keep it together.
Mom needs time out, but how?
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How to Take a Time Out
The most important thing to remember is that the time out is for you and all about you.
Going to a PTO meeting by yourself or grocery shopping doesn’t necessarily count (unless of course you love to do those things!).
And if you’re going crazy as ‘Mom’ and you have lost a piece of ‘you’ that you miss, how are you ever going to recover so that you could become a better person all around?
Taking a time out should allow you to find a piece of yourself again so that the ‘Mom’ in you feels refreshed and ready to take on your parenting challenges again.Feeling stressed? Taking a time out should allow you to find a piece of yourself again so that the 'Mom' in you feels refreshed and ready to take on your parenting challenges again.
How can you do that?
- Know that it’s totally normal to need a break. You are not the only one who needs a break from your responsibilities. Even those in the work force get scheduled breaks because, let’s face it, doing the same thing over and over again can fry your brain and make you a less productive (and often grumpy) person. Taking a break is a good thing for not only you but everyone around you.
- Choose an activity that you can do by yourself or with your spouse or a good friend. It helps to be kid-free so that you can focus on recharging. (Can’t get away from the kids but need a break now? See some at-home ideas below.)
- Choose an activity that takes at least 20-30 minutes. The longer the better, as it gives you a chance to feel refreshed longer.
- Coordinate schedules with your spouse, a friend, or a sitter. Even if you’re not going far or only need a small amount of time, coordinate schedules with whomever is going to be with the kids. This way you have a date and time and won’t be scrambling for someone to be with the kids when you’re the most stressed.
- Schedule these time outs at least once a month. If you can take one every week, even better!
List of Time Out Ideas for Moms
Browse this list of ideas for when mom needs a time out. Some of them are totally free to do!
- Visit a coffee shop
- Go for a mani or a pedi, or both
- Get a hair cut
- Go for float therapy
- Take a yoga class
- Go to the gym
- Run a 5k or similar challenge
- Go to a play
- Go to lunch with friends
- Take a painting class
- Go on a bike ride
- Visit the library
- Find a place to meditate
- Go to a wine tasting event
- Take a cooking class
- Walk through a botanical garden or nursery
- Window shop
- Go for a drive
- Take a dance class
- Go for a run or walk
- See a movie
- Join a softball/volleyball league
- Take a historical tour
- Find a quiet place to blog
- Take a pottery making class
- Visit a museum
- Browse yard sales
- Lay by a pool
- Go for swim
- Tend to a garden
- Visit an art gallery
- Volunteer for your favorite cause
- Go for a massage
- Join a bowling league
- Float in the pool
Mom’s Daily Me-Time Ideas
While those time outs are great when you can plan them in advance, sometimes Mom needs a time out NOW.
Try these ideas:
Wake up before the kids. This is personally a favorite of mine. Most days, I get up at least an hour before the kids get up. I have my coffee, watch a show, read a devotion, go through my emails, work on the blog, or just relax.
Relax during naptime. No really. I mean it. If you are one of the lucky ones whose kids still take a nap, take 5-10 minutes of their naptime to relax yourself. Yes, I know there is a lot for you to do while they’re sleeping, but trust me, it’ll all still be there when they wake up. This way, you give yourself a chance to recharge so that you can tackle the to-do list later.
Kids won’t nap? Declare a ‘rest time’ when everyone lays down for at least 15 minutes. Maybe one of the kids will doze off anyway!
Take 5-10 minutes to yourself when your spouse gets home from work. After my husband takes a break when he gets home from work, I try to take some time to myself when he’s able to be with the kids.
Keep your kids busy. Sounds exhausting, right? It’s not that way. By busy, I mean that the kids have something to do for a pre-determined amount of time. Have a ‘reading time’ during the day when everyone takes a break to silently read a book or look at a picture book. Put on a movie (preferably a new one they haven’t seen) and provide a small snack while you take a minute to yourself. Set out a craft that is easy enough for them to complete on their own.
Change the scenery. Often, a change of scenery is good for everyone. Take the kids to a park that isn’t too busy or even just go for a walk around the block.
I take the kids for walks when we need to get out of the house. I put the toddler in her baby carrier and the others follow behind. To keep it interesting, I let the kids choose the direction we go in.
Exercise together. Moderate exercise is a great way to refresh your body and your mind. Yoga especially can be calming and refreshing. Try doing some exercises with your kids in the middle of the day. Or, do some exercises first thing in the morning or before bed at night if you prefer to be alone.
Relax with a coloring book. Break out the colored pencils and your adult coloring book. Coloring can help you destress. It’s a great family activity, but it’s also perfect when mom needs a time out.
Dance break. Put on your favorite playlist and crank up the volume. No matter what your dancing ability is (I have zero dancing skills!) get your body moving to the music. This is an awesome family activity as it helps to boost everybody’s mood, most of all Mom’s!
Put the kids to bed early. I know a lot of moms try to take a break once the kids go to bed, but let’s face it, most of us also fall asleep at that time because we’re just so gosh darn tired. If you put the kids to bed earlier than normal, though, you’ll give yourself some time to relax before settling in for the night.
I wouldn’t do this one too many days in a row as it might disrupt your child’s sleep cycle, but once in a while won’t hurt.
Bonus Tips for Moms
I know it may not always be easy to do any of these things when mom needs a time out, especially if you have an infant or are a stay at home mom who feels like she needs to do it all.
It’s totally okay to ask for help. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. Ask your partner/spouse, a friend, other family members to help you with whatever you need.
Set clear expectations. Setting clear expectations with everyone in the family can help alleviate some of your daily stresses. Let the kids know what will be happening during the day and how they can help you by doing their chores, not leaving their stuff everywhere, and by listening to you the first time. If they don’t oblige, then they will lose their privileges.
Adjust the daily to do list. Find yourself stressing over how much you need to get done during the day? Adjust your daily to do list by setting some things aside for another day or by delegating some of the smaller tasks to someone else.
It’s okay to put the baby down. When you have an infant, sometimes it can feel as if you never have a second to yourself. It’s is perfectly fine to put the baby down for a few minutes when you need some time to yourself. Make sure the baby is in a safe environment, like in a bassinet or crib, and take a minute to just breathe. It’s okay if the baby fusses. It’s only for a few minutes.
Unplug. While it’s so tempting to check our devices for the latest news when we take a break, sometimes it can increase your stress levels and drain your brain power, depending on what you’re reading or watching. Set your devices down during your time outs to maximize your recharging capability.
Have any ideas for when mom needs a time out?
I’d love to know what you do for a time out. Leave me a comment below!