Gotcha – I bet you assumed this post would be about the classic movie all parents are avoiding like the plague. Though I am able to recite the movie almost word-for-word, this post, thankfully for all involved, is not about Frozen.
Now that that’s out of the way, I was wondering if anyone has had a similar experience to this one. Insert your own child or experience with children to the scenario below:
Child A is throwing/hitting/talking back/teasing or generally misbehaving. After repeated re-directions, talks, explanations and pleads, the child will not find something productive or positive to do. You start to lose it. After all, by now they know that they are doing something that they shouldn’t. “Time out!” you yell. The child’s reaction is expected but no less grating – scream, yell back and tantrum. At this point, you are both heated and you both need a break.
Have you noticed how for many kids, they legitimately seem to let it go (ah, now the title makes sense) when their time out is over. For the most part, both once through with their break in time out and after they’ve apologized for their actions, they bounce back in the room happy and ready to get on with their day. It’s amazing.
At least, it’s amazing because in comparison, I’m awful at time out. Rather than letting go of whatever the issue was, it is much easier to hold onto it. Chew on it, mull it over, I can’t believe he was doing that, why won’t he just listen, etc. My inability to forgive and forget gets carried over into the rest of the day. Ben comes home from work: “How was the day?” he asks. “You’ll never believe blah blah blah, complain, complain, complain, relive the issue unnecessarily” says I. It’s ridiculous! So, my challenge to me, and you too if you’re like me, is to get better at time out. Here’s my list or how to:
- I need to do a better job of putting myself in time out. When I recognize that I am not doing a good job of letting go of whatever is bothering me, I need to take a break.
- I need to lower my expectations of what a break might consist of. Stay at home mom of 3 with a husband who works, deploys, goes on work trips does not typically get an hour long lunch break to cool down. I’m not complaining about it, it’s just my reality. A break for me is 20 minutes in the car driving to gymnastics class while listening to The Lion King soundtrack for the uncountable numbered time. A break for me is 5 minutes after breakfast to check in on Facebook with my now cold cup of coffee. A break for me is 30 seconds to read an email in the kitchen while whoever is in trouble is in time out. In reality, I have lots of opportunities for breaks, they are just short, sometimes unconventional breaks.
- Now that I know I do have breaks, I need to take advantage of them. Maybe the 30 seconds in the kitchen would be better used if I prayed an Our Father or a few Hail Mary’s, asking for strength and patience to lovingly correct my troublesome child and to let go of whatever misdemeanor just occurred. Maybe my 5 minutes with my coffee would produce a happier me if I spent it in prayer or just stillness. Maybe my 20 minutes in the car would be better spent talking with my children, rather than trying to ignore or getting frustrated at their single-minded music selections.
In my mind, life is what you make it. You don’t wake up one day full of grudges and regrets, they build up over a lifetime. Each day we make choices, and each choice helps to form our inclinations. When we develop good coping mechanisms and practice letting go of small issues, it will be easier when larger affronts arise. We will be more inclined to make a good choice.
Learning to let go is an art, I truly believe that. It is one that I am practicing mastering. Fortunately, my kids give me opportunities to practice every day. Do you have any situations in your life where you need to practice letting go?