Putting myself in timeout

TIME OUT: When you're getting overwhelmed, take a few minutes to yourself.
TIME OUT: When you're getting overwhelmed, take a few minutes to yourself.

I'm sitting on the floor in our living room, hiding under my son's car-printed duvet. It's dark under here. And quiet. Well, quiet-er. It's 5pm and there are a few hours to go before reinforcements (my husband) arrive home. It's been one of those never-ending days. A day where I consumed three coffees by 7:18am and where we'd had breakfast, showered, done the grocery shopping and been to the park and back by 10:21.

Right now, my exuberant pre-schooler is running around the room, completely naked (his current outfit of choice) yelling "To infinity and beyond!" It was cute for the first five minutes. It's now been 25. And counting. I can feel a headache starting behind my eyes.

I love the days I spend at home with my little boy and yet some seem to go more smoothly than others. There are days that fly by in a blur of play-dates, shopping, a lunch time nap (if I'm lucky) painting and giggles. And ones that crawl, despite all of the different activities I throw at them. It's these days that can be the most trying and exhausting. Long hours punctuated by epic tantrums - the outbursts becoming physically harder for me to manage, now that he's bigger and stronger - constant requests for food and refusal to comply with any instructions.

One of the most salient pieces of advice I took from the antenatal classes I attended before my son was born, was to take a moment to walk away when you need time out. I remember the midwife, who was running the class, saying that if you're at the point where the crying is getting to you, you've tried everything and you're exhausted and frustrated, to put your baby down in the cot where they'll be safe and walk away for a few minutes. "Your baby will be fine," she assured us, "and you'll have a moment to rejuvenate."

It's advice I still use today with my pre-schooler.  

And so, here I am, taking a moment under my son's doona while he (hopefully) runs until he collapses. I'll come out in a second. I'll make him dinner, put him in the bath, read him a story and meet his list of bedtime demands (milk, water, bunny, songs). We'll cuddle under the blankets and talk about his day. I'll lie with my cheek against his and relish the few quiet moments with my busy, on-the-go little man.

My son thinks it's hilarious that I'm hiding. He thinks it's part of the game. And it's perfect, really. I'm still here, in his space, while taking some space of my own.

As mums, we're often told of the importance of self-care, of trying to find time to do "something nice" for ourselves, whether it's a hair cut, reading a magazine or a girls' night out. Right now, this is exactly the "something nice" that I need, and frankly, one of the few things that's actually possible. It's a brief, stolen moment to collect my thoughts before the bedtime rush. A self-imposed time-out. And a way to generate the last remnants of energy I need to power through the rest of the day.

I know I'm not alone in this. Facebook statuses and tweets from my friends, both new and and not-so-new mums, are often posted from behind the bathroom/laundry/bedroom/pantry door where they've taken refuge for a moment of peace. Another tool in the parenting survival kit.

My only regret right now though:I should have grabbed some chocolate to enjoy in the dark, before I disappeared under the doona. I'll remember that, next time.

What do you do and where do you go when you need a quick time-out?

Essential Mums