6 signs that Mommy needs a time-out

I child-proofed my house

I can usually spot it a mile away. The slightly crazed look. The ping-ponging emotions – super duper happy and giggly to whiney whiney whiney. The swirling ball of energy building up inside their little bodies threatening to erupt and cause a lava flow of emotions and tantrums.

As a parent, you become acutely aware of the signs. It’s like a radar that start beeping that warns me that I need to act fast in order to avoid a total, epic meltdown.

As a parent, I know when my kids need a time-out or a break – a few minutes away from the scene in order to recalibrate their tiny little equilibria. However, I’m not good at noticing when I need a time-out.

It’s usually because I’m caught up doing other things or just plain not present and mindful enough to notice what’s going on with me. My mindset is often, “I just need to get through the day. I just need to make it to bedtime.”

I fully recognize that I need a break from parenthood and life sometimes. Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and I want to spend time with them. It’s more often that I feel like I’m overstimulated, like my kids, and it become difficult to focus, like my kids. I think that it’s a virtue of my nature – of being an introvert. Sometimes, I need to retreat in order to recharge, to regroup and rebuild my energy stores.

While I need to become more attune to the subtle signs of when I’m hitting my limit, here are 5 tell-tale signs that Mommy needs a time-out:

    1. Your “bathroom breaks,” aka a few minutes of peace to hide in the bathroom to check email/Instagram/Twitter/Facebook, get longer and longer.
    2. You pretend to nap.
    3. You are willing to let the mess get bigger, allow a little extra TV and a few extra treats in exchange for a few moments of quiet.
    4. You volunteer to make the trip to the supermarket in the pouring rain/sleet/snow.
    5. Even a good cheesy movie won’t pull you out of a funk (although Pitch Perfect does a pretty darn good job).
    6. There’s a growing stash of chocolate and/or ice cream in the house which you hide from your children and spouse/partner.

What are the signs that YOU need a time-out? 



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  1. says

    I remember that candy stash that the kids didn’t know about. For a long time it was actually a cookie jar on the counter – then they got old enough to ask what was in the jar.

    Glad I’m not the only one who uses my phone in the bathroom. I think I read somewhere that 600,000 phones are dropped in the toilet every year. Or something like that.
    Carrie @ FamilyFitnessFood.com recently posted..The First Mile SucksMy Profile

    • admin says

      I don’t doubt that that many phones are dropped in the toilet every year!! I’ve had a few close calls haha. The bathroom is the place where I can still get a little bit of privacy :-)

  2. says

    haha! Apparently THIS Mommy needs MORE of a time out… because I am guilty of all of the ones you listed! :)

    One of my favorite go to Mommy needs a time out is loading the boys up to head to the neighborhood park. The fresh air, play ground, and play helps EVERYONE’s cranky mood! :)

    • admin says

      Seriously, I love nap time. My 6 year old still naps. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when he drops it for good!

  3. says

    I begin to crave time…like I can almost physically feel myself getting more and more tense as the day goes on. My hubby says I get crazy eyes…the entire house overwhelms me and then he kicks me out the door and tells me to go run! Between working with kids full time, coming home to my kids, and well the sometimes overgrown kid whom I share my bed with…sometimes it is just a lot of people pulling on me. When I get overwhelmed it is when I fail to get my bucket filled first thing in the morning.
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • admin says

      Yes, craving time and the crazy eyes! It’s so true. My husband usually kicks me out the door to go work out too.

    • admin says

      haha! Mine too! My husband comes around and knocks on the door to make sure I haven’t slipped and hit my head or something.

  4. says

    So funny! Now that my kids are older and both in school, I will say these moments are much fewer and farther apart. Now it’s the fighting that sends me off…sometimes I just have to walk away. As always, I am thankful for running/fitness in my life…makes me handle anything much, much better!
    misszippy recently posted..Spring break in the #ATXMy Profile

  5. says

    Yep!! Those are all the signs that I need a time-out. Yesterday was awful. As soon as my husband got home, I ran out of the house. I went to the rec center to run and then to yoga. I needed to get away for my own sanity.
    Natalie recently posted..Kona Kase ReviewMy Profile

  6. says

    Most of those ring true for me as well (even though I don’t have kiddos)… I find that when I wake up in the morning and I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that only sleeping until 2pm or many margaritas before noon can solve – time to have a rest day and get away.

  7. says

    Ok. Yes to the stashes that I hide. Yes to hiding in the bathroom. Yes to it all!!!

    The one silver lining of my divorce is that I have scheduled time outs (Tues. and Fri.). Last night I went to my mom’s house and got caught up on Shameless and the first episode of Game of Thrones. This morning I feel rejuvenated … just from having a little time to myself!
    Martha recently posted..The Rules for Living With Your ExMy Profile

    • admin says

      After 3 days off from the kids and home, I came home feeling SO MUCH BETTER. Talk to me about Shameless and Game of Thrones. I’m so out of it. Worth watching?

    • admin says

      ohmygosh bathroom breaks are the only way that I can get through the day! Sometimes it’s literally to just catch my breathe and regroup when I know that I’m running low on patience.

    • admin says

      I totally get that Heather. It’s both the run and hide and spending really good quality time with a good friend. Those are the best ways to recharge.

  8. says

    I so get very bit of this! For me, it’s the stash of Whole Foods vegan chocolate chis that quickly disappear on a stressful day, hiding in the bathroom. or talking to them in a whisper, which is way worst than yelling in my house.
    Ilene recently posted..The In-BetweenMy Profile

    • admin says

      The whisper!!! That’s the worst! And the kids know it too. Their eyes kind of skit side to side and to each other like, we should get out of here before she blows her top!

  9. says

    1, 4, and 6 are my signs! Totally. I just find myself getting more frustrated than I normally would. Patience goes out the window. And I’m really, really patient with my three-year-old on a good day, and she can really try it!
    Tamara recently posted..Moonrise, Moonset.My Profile

  10. says

    I have a secret cabinet that you have to wave a wand by to find it where I hide all of my “timeout” chocolate. Actually, it is just one that I keep stuff that we rarely use so no one goes in it. 😉 If I find myself in that cabinet more than just the little nibble, I know I need to let Chris know that I need some time for myself. Thankfully, he is great at making sure I get it. I just have to remember to ask for it and be aware of when I need to. It is a hard thing to see sometimes until it is too late and you’ve exploded on someone or something (at least in my case anyway).
    Kristen recently posted..Right Brain Kind of LifeMy Profile

    • admin says

      I’m also thankful that my husband is pretty good about making sure that I have time to recharge and workout because he knows that will make me feel better. It is hard to remember sometimes! But it’s good for us to remember to take care of ourselves too.

    • admin says

      It is a lot sometimes, isn’t it? I think that we all want to do so much and take on so much, especially as mothers, that sometimes we forget that we need some time too. I hope that you got to take a little break this weekend :-)

  11. says

    I always love your writing, even though I’m not a mom I can relate to this post ;). For me it’s those days where the warm shower before bed does not come soon enough. As I learn more about myself and deepen my Yoga practice I am realizing how powerful breath is, and just taking a few minutes to close my eyes and get centered again.
    Alison recently posted..BalanceMy Profile

    • admin says

      Yes! I’ve been realizing too how powerful breath is. Sometimes that’s really want I need, a few moments to breath and recenter myself.

  12. says

    How about when even your bathroom time isn’t your own! I shut the door (even lock it sometimes) only to find I forgot to lock it and now I’m talking to a toddler about toilet paper.

    That’s when I know I need a break! :)
    katie recently posted..Personal Trainers…Take NoteMy Profile

    • admin says

      haha. My older son has figured out that I hide in the bathroom sometimes and he slips me notes under the door and other assorted items.

  13. says

    Hiding in the bathroom rarely works for me. I end up with a toddler in the bathroom telling me “good job making peepee mama.” Extra TV and treats, I am guilty of. I hate Spongebob, but when I need a few to myself, Bob is my man.
    Sylvia @ Frolic Through Life recently posted..I’m An Aunt!My Profile

    • admin says

      haha. Yes, I love when my kids compliment me on making pee pee too. I’ve been turning to extra TV more these days. My kids don’t watch a lot so I figure an extra half hour won’t hurt.

  14. says

    Though I don’t have kids, I definitely go through periods where I just need to take myself out of the work-wife mode. I can tell when I sit in my car for about 5 minutes in the driveway just to chill before going inside. Or when a 3 mile run turns into 5 miles because I just don’t want to see my email. Or when I get excited about a meeting because it means getting to be around different people for a bit, change in scenery.
    Taylor @ LiftingRevolution recently posted..The “Spiced Up” National Walking Day WorkoutMy Profile

  15. says

    I am so guilty of the grocery store one! I’ll wander around that store for hours. I never knew how much fun grocery shopping was until I had kids and went solo. LOL
    jan recently posted..Oh, the MidwestMy Profile

  16. says

    Oh yes! These are signs. Mine are when I start loosing my mind and screaming over the small things that happen several times a day that include but are not limited to, leaving dirty socks out, snail collections left in the house, leaving playdough in pockets and discovering it in the dryer, un-flushed toilets (no, not just pee), finding a moldy strawberry under the couch cushion, when the inhabitants of your house have a wardrobe change several times a day for no reason at all, constant arguing, saying yet again that they don’t like to eat what you have worked the last two hours preparing, I have gone un-showered for more than 3 days, any kind of stomach virus that goes around the house, any kind of vomit or decaying food in the car, the constant “mommy, mommy, mommy” that goes on when you try to have even the smallest conversation with your spouse, yeah, these are just few things that warrant a mommy time out in my house.
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..My Favorite Running Things- Spring 2013My Profile

    • admin says

      I love you. My list/day sounds very similar to yours. All those little things add up so quickly! The one that totally sets me over the edge is the refusing to eat the dinner that I’ve spent so much time in preparing. Drives me batty!!

  17. says

    Oh friend, if Pitch Perfect can’t fix it, then it is SERIOUS! But really, it’s so great that you are so in tune with yourself, and taking the steps to recognize when you need a break. We all need a break from life sometimes, whether we have kiddos or not.

    • admin says

      I’m seriously in love with Pitch Perfect. I can’t believe that I hadn’t seen it before this week! And then I proceeded to watch it three times in three days. haha. It’s brilliant!

  18. says

    This was me today! Keenan was getting tired and cranky, not wanting to cooperate close to lunch time and I was definitely trying hard to not show my frustration. I certainly needed a time-out, which fortunately I got once he went down for his nap (for 2 1/2 hours!). Working out is my “me-time,” but a run to the grocery store is something I’ve done, too!
    Melissa @ Fit ‘n’ Well Mommy recently posted..It’s My SITS Day!!My Profile

  19. says

    It is like you are a fly on my wall! I become much less go with the flow and sillier things start to upset me. The hiding chocolate is definitely up there. As is declaring nap time cause I need a nap!
    Jess recently posted..Grateful Thursday!My Profile

  20. says

    oh my gosh I love this. I am an introvert to and THRIVE on time by myself. I need it. I crave it. I can’t always be “on.” Last weekend my hubs gave me the morning off and I went to a coffee shop and sat by myself for a nice long time. Then walked around the downtown area and window shopped a bit. It was great. totally recharged my batteries.
    Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..First Postpartum 5K: Todd’s Trot Race RecapMy Profile

    • admin says

      Those escapes – when you can walk around and act like a normal adult are always some of the best. I’m so glad that you got a little bit of time to recharge.


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