For the last few days, I’ve been trying a new timeout method that has made a huge difference in my parenting of my Crazy Toddler and Twins. It might sound kinda drastic and pretty impossible, but believe me, it’s totally doable. A 30-minute timeout.
Now I know, timeouts are hard and there are pros and cons. There are always camps for and against everything in motherhood, even though I firmly believe there is no “one right way.”
I wish we could sit across from each other and hash this out, so you could know my heart and how much I desire the best for me and my kids, for you and your kids. So let’s just do this. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt, and for the sake of argument say, “Ok. I’m cool with the occasional timeout.” Cool?
Here’s why I firmly believe in this new 30-minute timeout method.
Because some behaviors need to be stopped dead in their tracks. Because some bad habits need drastic measures. Because one-minute here and there never taught anyone anything.
That’s right. It’s your timeout.
30-minutes just for you.
Now, I know you are thinking it’s impossible for a whole slew of reasons. Not so dissimilar than if I was actually suggesting a 30-minute timeout for a child (Which I am not. People. Come on. Really?!). Basically, it would just be impossible. Right? Wrong.
Where would I find the time?
What about my to do list?
Who would fix dinner?
How will the dishes get done?
When would the laundry get folded?
Who will do it if I don’t?
Yes. Some things will have to wait for later. Somethings might not get done during those specific 30-minutes, but let me tell you a secret. Things will still get done.
For the last few days, I’ve set an alarm on my phone for the first 30-minutes after I wake up (before everyone else is up), OR the first 30-minutes of naptime, OR the first 30-minutes after bedtime. Yes, in each instance, whichever block of time I chose, I chose me first.
I grabbed a book and a blanket and set the time for 30-minutes. And it was glorious. A few times, it felt so long and I felt so relaxed and separated from the days worries that I hurried to check my phone to see if I had in fact set the timer. A 30-minute timeout for you time can actually seem pretty long when you are in the middle of it.
Here’s the most miraculous part. As soon as the timer was up, I was actually rejuvenated. And since I knew that I had put myself first, that I actually had some time t0 be my own boss and do something I wanted to do just for me, I went back to my to-do list with more energy and gratitude. I finished my tasks in less time. I didn’t even need that 30-minutes to get everything accomplished after all!
And because I knew I was going to have another 30-minute timeout the next day, I wasn’t so greedy of my time. I wasn’t so grouchy when the kids asked me to play, or when the clothes came out of the dryer, or when it was time to prep dinner. I knew another 30-minutes for me was right around the corner, so I could give the rest of the time more happily and sacrificially without feeling drained and denied.
I firmly believe you need to take a timeout.
Because some behaviors need to be stopped dead in their tracks. The endless cycle of being everything for everyone needs to stop.
Because some bad habits need drastic measures. The self-destructive need to please has to be dealt with firmly.
Because one-minute here and there never taught anyone anything. The constant grasping for seconds of self-care will never quench our thirst for true rest and refreshment, for truly growing in our passions and pursuits.
My friends. Treat yourself well. Don’t let guilt keep you from taking care of yourself. Grab a book or some knitting needles or a sketch book or your guitar or your running shoes. Whatever it is that fuels you and fills you up. Take a timeout. You’ll be better for it.