In a previous blog, there was discussion related to “Alternatives to Time-Out” on how to effectively implement time out with children.  In working with parents, especially those who are having trouble with their child’s behavior, there comes a time when you need a break. These difficulties are even more apparent now that parents and children are spending all their time together. When children are exhibiting challenging behaviors, it is important for parents to give themselves a time out. We all have heard the instructions on planes where we need to put on our own oxygen mask first. The same applies to children. Parents need to practice self-care so they can put forth the maximum effort for their children. So the question needs to be asked, do you need a parent time out? Below are some tips on how parents can take some time for themselves.

Secret Missions

When I was younger, I would occasionally notice my mother saying that she had a “secret mission” with my aunt on the weekends. It was not until I was older that she told me she and my aunt would go get ice cream on Sunday afternoons together. Back then I did not pay it any concern, but now that I am older, I can recognize the importance of giving yourself a break. We need to do better with treating ourselves for no reason at all. Make it a point to figure out a quick and easy way you can treat yourself every week and see if your mood improves. I know it may be more difficult given the current climate, but it is very important that parents get their emotional needs met.

Regularly Scheduled Breaks

When was the last time when you did something just for you? Most of us do not ask ourselves that question because we are so busy. When we are busy and do not make time for ourselves, we become irritable and stressed, which impacts all areas of our life. Persistent irritability and stress impacts our work, mood, health, and relationships. It is time for a break if you over or underreact to your child’s behavior.  It is important that we make breaks a priority. Your break or personal time should not be at the end of a long day. Make it a priority to give yourself breaks throughout your day and week. This could look like taking a 10-minute break every hour or having Saturday mornings as a time for you to relax by yourself. If parents begin practicing these self-care strategies, then their children will learn the importance of making their well-being a priority.

Delegate

A particularly important aspect of parents taking a time out is for them to share their feelings with trusted friends and family members, especially their spouses. If you are the primary caregiver, it is important to know when to ask for help. I am sure you love your children, but we as individuals thrive on resetting our thoughts and feelings. That becomes even more difficult when you have children. If you find yourself getting stressed with parenting, ask a trusted friend or grandparent for advice. If you feel that the current situation is beyond your control, then maybe professional assistance is warranted. Therapists are a great resource to help with planning a daily schedule or providing ideas for positive reinforcement strategies. Now is the perfect time to get help and to learn strategies that will assist in future parenting.

Try Something New

I remember being in grad school preparing for internship interviews and having my instructors tell us to be prepared to talk about our hobbies. The funny part about the story is that none of us had hobbies at the time, because we were so busy with school. I feel most of us would like to have exciting interests, but we do not know what even interests us. I think the best place to start is what we would like to improve in our lives. If you want to get into better shape, how about joining an online exercise class or a healthy cooking class. I believe it is important that we engage in hobbies that foster positive relationships and connections with others. When we feel stressed, it can also feel very isolating. Going out of your comfort zone to meet new people will help you to learn that you are more than someone’s parent, spouse, employee, etc. We are our own unique person with our own goals and interests.

In conclusion, one of the best things you can do for your children is to take care of yourself. Parenting is probably the hardest thing anyone can do, so give yourself a break! Especially during these times it is important to ask, do you need a parent time out? You will not always get it right or perfect but if you are trying, that is what counts.

 

Resources

Advice for Caregivers of Children with Disabilities in the Era of COVID-19

Parenting and Caregiving from the American Psychological Association (APA)

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