Mommy Time-Outs by Jennifer Holt

My little boy, Jack, will be turning 2 in only four months, and I have a feeling that I’ll be putting Jennifer Holt’s tips for reclaiming 2s from tantrums (in the March 2010 issue of ParentLife) to good use! But sometimes it is not just your child that needs a time-out. Parents need time-outs too.  Consider the following extra tips from Jennifer!

Mommy Time-Outs

123_angry_2s.jpgSometimes despite all our best efforts, toddlers can get the upper hand. If you feel your blood pressure rising, it might be a good idea to take a time out of your own.  Here are some ideas.

  1. Walk away to a quiet place. If you are in your own home, be sure your toddler is in a safe place and take a moment for yourself. You may even need to go outdoors.
  2. Get distracted. Turn on your favorite TV brain drain or put your mp3 player headphones in. It’s OK to take a moment for yourself before you lose your temper.
  3. Get a drink of water if you can’t physically walk away. It will cool your body down and hopefully your emotions.
  4. Make a phone call to a friend. I’m sure you know someone else who has children who can sympathize!
  5. Just breathe. If you know any deep breathing techniques, they can be helpful. If not, just take a series of five deep breaths, filling your entire stomach with air from your nose, then pushing the air out through your mouth.

Damage Control
Many times you can see the writing on the wall just before your toddler explodes. When you see your child escalating, try some of these tips. Eventually, your child may learn to self-soothe with these same techniques.

  1. Pretend Play. Ask your child to pretend he is someone else. What would Thomas the Train or Spiderman be doing right now? What would they say?
  2. Start the Music. Singing a happy song (with hand motions!) often helps. I love to use “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” even when you’re not so happy.
  3. Physical Touch. If you have a sensory kid, she may respond to a tight hug, a back scratch, or a rocking motion.
  4. Distraction. Carry a favorite toy or snack in your purse as a distraction. Sometimes a “stress ball” or squeezable toy will help children to self-calm.

What are your favorite (and effective) ways for dealing with tantrums? 

Challenges & Blessings

If you know me at all, you know that I don’t cook … especially on the weekends. So eating out most meals on the weekend has become a habit. A habit that is about to dramatically change. Our 18-month-old, Jack, is getting to the age where it is difficult to go out to eat with him. Sunday was a perfect example. 

One of my favorite burger places opened a new location in our town, and I was super excited. We decided to try it out on Sunday after church … our first mistake for two reasons:

  1. The restaurant had only been open a couple of weeks and apparently everyone had the very same idea we did. It was packed!
  2. Sunday lunch is not Jack’s best time. He’s hungry, exhausted, and ready for a nap. (In case you are wondering why we don’t head straight home for this reason, we eat somewhere close to church to ensure Jack gets lunch before falling asleep on the way home.)

112_eating-out.jpgWhen we saw the crowd, we were tempted to turn around and head somewhere else, but I was determined we were going to make it work. I really wanted that burger! The trouble started when we realized there were no available high chairs. We tried just having him sit in a big chair and on our laps with no success. Luckily, by the time our food arrived, a high chair became available. However, by that time, Jack had reached his limit. He began screaming and pointing at random things on the table. I would offer him the things he was pointing at (his drink, a bite of his lunch, etc.), but nothing seemed to help. He just kept screaming and randomly pointing. We tried to calm him down for what seemed like an eternity. (Luckily, it’s a very loud restaurant so I’m thinking we didn’t disturb those around us too terribly much.) I was getting ready to make a quick exit if necessary. Finally … in an act of desperation, I offered Jack a french fry! (I know, I know … a terrible choice … but like I said … I was desperate!) That apparently was what he had wanted all along. (Not sure why that didn’t occur to me earlier. I guess I was in denial … only offering him the better choices.)  We were able to speed through the rest of our lunch offering Jack a steady supply of french fries!

So … what exactly did I take away from this experience? As a parent embarking on this new phase of toddlerhood, I am reminded of how each new phase has its unique challenges but also its many blessings. We may not be able to eat out as often as we used to, but it is amazing to watch Jack as he learns new things every day and is beginning to show so much personality! I’m also amazed at how sacrificies (such as not eating out, being too tired to stay up late, and not getting to sleep in) don’t really feel like sacrifices in light of the tremendous blessing that our little man is! It makes me hesitant and excited all at the same time to see what each new phase of Jack’s life brings!

What are the challenges and blessings that you are facing in your child’s particular phase of development? Share your thoughts with us.