Monday, June 23, 2008

Time Out

Gabriel is about to turn three.

As a three year old, his time outs have been upgraded to three minutes, rather than the two minute time out of a two year old. When he gets frustrated and starts pushing the baby or throwing things, he gets his time out. Sure, he has a couple weeks until his actual birthday, but I think it's close enough.

They say kids are supposed to get as many minutes in time out as they have years. That's how much they can handle, developmentally, and G certainly seems to be able manage sitting there for longer now. Then I thought about how long these Time Outs would last. I giggled about a 15 year old, sitting in a corner for 15 minutes.

But then, later, as I was reading some old writing that I did, about how I gave myself a time out when the stresses of caring for little guys got to be too much for my frayed temper. When I gave myself my time out, I used that time to do some creative work, some poetry, some deep thought. And when I went back to take care of the kids, I was calm again.

So I just made the connection-- why shouldn't a teenager or an adult take as many minutes of time out as years in their age? It actually makes a lot of sense. It's not about punishing a kid, really, it's about having some time to yourself and centering and regaining your equilibrium.

I am 37 years old. A 37 minutes time out from my temper to get my head back on straight sounds PERFECT. I don't have to sit in a corner, unless... well, my computer is kind of in the corner, so maybe I do. And Sean, he's 40-mumble, so I bet you he would enjoy a nice round 45 minute time out to do whatever he wants, watch a game, have a beer, read a book.

Who says time outs are just for kids? I think we all need them, parents, non parents, grown-ups, teens. Every single one of us can get to the point where life is just too much. Maybe we don't have a wise and loving parent sitting over us looking to set boundaries, telling us when we need our time outs, but we can serve that purpose for ourselves.

Do some mothering for yourself. When it all gets to be too much and you are snapping at petty things-- TIME OUT, BABY!

Take it as a punishment, if you want... if it makes others around you realize they need to leave you alone. "Can't talk, guys, I'm in time out." Take it as needed "me-time" and get some Yoga in or journaling or paint a picture. Take it as a luxury and have a bubble bath or a walk or SoapOpera session, whatever it is that will get you back to your beautiful, lovely, centered self.

As the newly rechristened WarriorMama, I say you are to go into Time Out when you get all bitchy and stressed and angry. Really, you're not fun to be around, not even for yourself. I'm WarriorMama, so you have to listen to me.

Have fun.


Jaime Theler said...

I would love to put myself in Time-out! I would even gleefully round up. The other day I had a run-in with my unbelievably strong-willed daughter. After an hour and a half, we were both in Time Out in our separate rooms. And that's how my husband found us when he came home. I should probably put myself in time out more often, esp. now that school is out for the summer.

Anonymous said...

I'm listening. 39 minutes it is.

This is the second time for me to write this because I had trouble with the connection earlier--so I'm hoping you don't get sent this message ten times. Anyway, on my blog you mentioned teaching and I ought to make it clear that I've got the dream teaching gig for a mom and a writer-wannabe.

I teach at a private school, adult ESL, 9-2 Mon-Thurs. I get NO benefits, but I keep my sanity. (Luckily I'm on my husband's insurance.) So this is how I balance teaching and the rest of it--I don't teach in the public school system.

I guess that makes me a little less Hercuelesa. I gotta leave that role to somebody else. And I have only one child.

But I still need plenty of time-outs.

Sugar said...

A group of friends and I were talking about a commercial where there is a mom and some kids in total chaos. The mom says "Someone needs a timeout!" Cut to mom going to her room, closing the door, and laying down on her bed to relax. It's funny, but maybe good to start practicing.

Rowena said...

I totally needed a time out today, but was unable to take one due to circumstances.

A crankier more temper tantrum throwing kid was not to be found than mommy.

Alas it was not to be found.

And Sugar, I remember that commercial. I wonder if I was influenced?

mapelba, I get you with the part time non public teaching. You probably aren't even doing the high stakes testing. I would love to teach art or writing part time to teenagers, but you know, we do what we can.

Jaime, I know where you're coming from. All day? Someone needs a break. I hope you enjoyed yours.

D'Arcy said...

It's like the whole nap fight it as kids, but as adults you crave to get that little 30 minute (the amount of my time out) to just be.

I like it, but um, I am not a mom, so I was just wondering...what happens to the two year old when you are taking a time out? I know there must be some mystical mothering there I don't know, but I sure would like to learn!

mames said...

just found you via jen lemen and i really enjoyed all the posts i have read. i love the idea of time outing myself, we are approaching the time to start our 14 month olds on a time out approach...whew. feeling a little like the time outs for me are as necessary at times.

i also loved the post on creativity...a lot was lost during this first year with two lovely but unbelievably active boys. now we are discovering the world together and it is as inspiring as any craft book i ever delved into.

Natasha said...

Loved this one...I'm SO going to give myself time outs...bad Tasha off to the corner to write in your journal! it great post

Rowena said...

How ironic that as soon as I wrote this post, I got an enforced time out from the technical difficulties fairy. Back now, I think.

D'arcy, what happens to the two year old in time out is they scream and yell and spit or whatever it is, and then when you say they can get out, they get up and apologize or don't and go on with their day. But I don't think you need to be a mom or be a kid to need a timeout. Just think of how a time out might benefit people at work.

Mames; so glad you made it over. Love Jen Lemen. I do know that it took a while for my now 3 year old to get timeouts, so I waited until he didn't think it was a game, and then it started working.

Natasha, isn't it funny that something that might have been a punishment when you were little becomes something you really look forward to... like going to bed early.

D'Arcy said...

I get what happens to the two year old when THEY get put in a time out!

But what if the MOM needs a time out? How does the two year old take care of himself so mommy gets her time out?

That's the big mystical question for me!

But yes, time outs are good. Maybe I should start implementing them in my high school classroom!

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