… Not that kind of “time out”… The kind of “time out” where you pause and turn to your child and see what they really need from you. Perhaps you have a school-age child who just needs a break for the day. A day to stay home with mom or dad and veg out on the couch with a couple good books, breaking only for a walk around the neighborhood or to the park.
Or maybe, as was the case for me today, your small child just needs you to slow down, take a breath, and just hang out.
My little Walkie Talkie has been sick, and that means sleep-deprivation for everyone in our house. Sleep deprivation means “emotional” for my daughter, which throws her normal calm and independent spirit into the wind. Last night was rocky, with some night terrors at 2:30am (this after feeding the Roly-Poly at 1:30am.) Mom and Dad were both on duty last night – I think it’s a true testament to co-parenting when you can do it sleep-deprived in the wee hours of the night! This morning I read an important note, which laid a path for the whole day:
“What is most important to little ones at home with their mama is that their mother enjoys being with them. Not that they take art, or music, and swimming lessons, or go to “school” every day.”
And so began our day watching the snowstorm, reading fairy tales, blowing bubbles for the baby, and baking cookies.
These “slow down” days are so important, especially since I work outside the home some of the week. My girls are blessed to have an amazing nanny who understands the need for some child-directed play time, as well. Dad also has his time alone with the girls, and I’ve seen their relationship with him blossom as a result. And, let’s face it, Daddy does it differently. Whether its combing their hair or making breakfast, Daddy does it differently. And that’s a good thing.
A “time out” day works well when you have a normal routine and schedule most days. A routine provides security, teaches your child how to prioritize, allows for enough sleep, and allows for deeper learning to occur. But, most importantly, those steady days allow for some flexibility when the need arises, when reading “Cinderella” and “The Frog Prince” are all you need to accomplish in a day. When your child just needs to snuggle, or stare at the wall, or watch the clouds drift past.