Over the last couple months, especially during our crazy move down to the valley, and our go-go-go lifestyle, I sort of formulated my own personal mommy time-out out of sheer necessity.
I wonder, do all moms do this? Do you all need an occasional mommy time-out? I know I sure do! (A couple carafes of wine might not hurt either!) Part of my personality flaws are being short-tempered, not adjusting well to change, and possessing an extreme aversion to surprises. My life needs lists, schedules, color-coding and advance planning. However, being a mom means, I don’t get to plan baby needs, blowouts, meltdowns and messes. Those are the moments when a mommy time-out becomes my saving grace.
When my oldest child decided to bite me (and my infant a couple times) I reached out to an old co-worker of mine, an LPC, to find out what she used to recommend to her clients. She recommended a system called Magic 1-2-3. So, when I read this book, the biggest take-away for me was the whole concept of “no talking”, “no emotion”. This made so much sense to my mommy brain. How can I expect my three-year old to learn things like “our teeth are for chewing growing food”, and “we use our nice words”, if I am over here yelling like a crazed mommiac? Theoretically, mommiac-me would need a thirty-two minute mommy time-out. Except, that much me-time is simply laughable; I can’t even take a solo poop these days.
So, here is my secret. I call it “Mommy 1-2-3, Take 12.”
When my husband leaves his dirty socks in the dining room for the umpteenth time, and my three-year old leaves her soiled undies in the living room, and she smears yogurt all over her face, and her hair, and my coffee table, and my couch, just after a bath, and my infant sits on the floor yelling, and hollering to be picked up because he’s just had a massive poo… I tell myself “1-2-3, TAKE 12!” (Longest run-on ever, huh? My life is the longest run-on ever during these fabulous mommy moments…)
I’m not going to lie to you, sometimes I want to scream. I want to yank out all my hairs and hide in a closet and cry. Sometimes, I want to bang my head against a pixie dusted dollhouse and be a pseudo Jennifer Garner, in my own 32 going on 13. —Instead, I declutter.
I put away twelve things, (not eleven, not thirteen), and I count silently. I not only physically declutter, but I mentally declutter as I put items back in their homes.
My system in action:
“That’s one.” Deep breath.
Cracker wrapper goes in the garbage.
“That’s two.” Deep breath.
Dirty undies go in the hamper.
“That’s three.” Deep breath.
Paper towels go back in the cabinet.
Random toy goes back to the play room.
Swiffer duster goes in the cabinet.
Cereal box goes back in the pantry.
Coffee mug gets dumped out and put in the dishwasher.
Empty water bottle goes in the trash.
Table decoration goes back on the dining table.
Coffee table bench gets pushed back in.
Toothpaste goes back in the bathroom.
Dirty socks go in the hamper.
By the time I am done with twelve, I am ready to deal with the yogurt mess, and nurse and change the baby.
Simple thoughts are my saving grace.
I am truly embarrassed to share the fact that I needed a mommy self-help book; however, this magic book taught me that too many thoughts, too many words, and too many emotions will keep my brain in an undesirable state of mind. Tiny commands to myself, and deep breaths allow me to keep my sanity. So, while the concepts of decluttering probably came from Martha Stewart, and the concepts of “no talking, no emotion” came from this random book author, I have found their combination to be invaluable. In many ways, my children benefit from this system more than I do.