Family Life

Mama Needs a Time Out

Our snowy white wonderland weekend was wonderful and special.

Until it wasn’t.

For me, at least.

On Friday, Calvin woke up so excited to see that his snow day dreams had come true and there was white all around! I remember lying in bed early in the morning and hearing him yell out, “MAMAAA!! IT SNOOOOWWW!!!”

We all went out together, bundled up in our snow gear. Henry and I did not love being out in the cold, so we didn’t last long before we retreated first to the porch where we could sit under blankets, and then into the house where we could really stay warm and leave the cold, wet, snow play to Calvin and James.


As I sat inside, snuggled up with Henry looking out the window at Calvin and James making snowballs outside, I smiled at how perfect it was: Calvin has a daddy who will stay out in the snow all day with him and ride bikes in the snow, and throw snowballs and make snowmen. And James has a kid who gives him an excuse to be out there playing like a kid and going on snowy adventures. And meanwhile, I have a kid who will stay inside with me where it’s warm and just look at all the pretty snow. And Henry has a mama who will bring him in when he’s getting fussy out in the cold. And set him up with a sensory bathtub full of rice.


For the first two days of the snowy long weekend, that’s pretty much how it went. James and Calvin spent the day outside playing in the snow, Henry spent the day playing indoors with me, and I spent the day making sure everyone was fed and doing things around the house. And sweeping up rice that the kids keep tracking out of the bathtub. And in the evenings, James and I were making our way through a Star Wars movie marathon: staying up way too late, but having fun.

By Sunday, however, the magic had worn off. James was exhausted and went back to sleep after breakfast. I was starting to stress because I felt like we were running out of groceries and our cul-de-sac was still full of snow. We were both short on sleep thanks to our movie nights. Calvin was pouty because neither of us wanted to take him outside. Henry (who is usually such a good eater!) was getting picky about the snack options remaining in our cupboards. When Henry started pitching a fit about the hard boiled egg I was offering him, I cracked. I’d been feeling irritable all morning, and I at this point I’d reached the end of my rope and was about to totally lose it at my 2-year-old. Luckily, James was awake again. So instead of losing it at Henry, I stood up, I said “I’m done. I’m out.” And I went upstairs and locked myself in my room like an angry teenager.


I realize that that sounds like a totally unreasonable reaction to a child refusing to eat an egg. It is a totally unreasonable reaction. Sometimes humans are unreasonable. Kids and adults. And it’s usually because of other stuff we’ve all got going on bubbling under the surface. If we don’t give ourselves breaks or chances to work out the stress, it builds up til you can’t hold it in anymore. I needed a time out. A break from the kids. A break from being responsible for other people. A moment to rest and recharge. Alone!

I stayed in there through naptime and then I tried to re-integrate myself back into the family. It did not go well. Nope. Wasn’t ready. I was still totally snappy and short with everyone. I am grateful that James was so patient with me. Instead of calling me out for acting like a jerk (which I would have totally deserved), he just let me go back to hiding in our room.

Later, I told James, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry it went down like that. I wish I had just asked nicely for a break this morning instead of losing it and leaving.”

And he said it was OK.

Why is it so hard for me to just ask nicely for some time to myself?? This is not the first time this has happened. I know that James gets it and that he’s totally supportive about me needing breaks from the kids. But I am not good at asking for them. I always feel like he, the working parent, is the one who needs a break. Because he does! But so do I. And it’s so much worse to wait until I’m at the point of losing my temper before I finally say I need some time alone! I need a break before I get to the end of that rope.

So let me be a cautionary tale. Make time for yourself before you run out of reserves. Ask for what you need. Check in with yourself and see if you really feel ok or if you’re just pushing through. And get enough sleep!!



2 thoughts on “Mama Needs a Time Out

  1. The trade-off between staying up late for spouse/friends/me-time and having enough energy and patience the next day is so hard to get right! And then when I get it wrong, I always get even grumpier because I feel like I brought it on myself by just not going to bed.

    And for me anyway staying home is so so much harder than working. Kids are emotionally and physically exhausting in a way work just isn’t. So I completely think you deserve many weekend naps!


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