Welcome to part six in our series, "You are not a victim, you're a mom."
Today we're sitting down and calming down and writing down a better response! That's right, we're talking about the power of a Mommy Time-Out!
When You're Feeling Abused by Your Little People and Are About to Explode - Try Putting Yourself in Time-Out!
ding ding ding - Send yourself to your corner...
I've written before about lovingly sending our children to their rooms when they're all itchy-twitchy looking for a fight. (You can read about it here) Giving your children some minutes (or hours) in their rooms to calm down and relax isn't an angry disciplinary tactic... it's a gift when given correctly. Gently, we take them by the hand and say, "This isn't working. You aren't being kind to your brothers or to me right now. You get to have some quiet time in your room so that you don't hurt your relationship with us. I know that when I call you to come out you will feel so much better and be able to do a great job being calm and kind again."
How about you, dear mom? Wouldn't you love for me to ring the bell when you've accepted their invitation to fight? Wouldn't you like me to throw the towel down on the mat, take you by the weary hand, and walk you quietly to your room? I'd firmly, but lovingly, instruct you to enjoy some quiet play for half an hour. "You can work on a puzzle, look through your picture books, or do some coloring at your desk. I'm sure when I call you out you will be able to do a great job being calm and kind again."
Yes, please! Somebody please give me a time-out!
Unfortunately, putting yourself in a mommy time-out before you lose your cool takes great gobs of self-discipline. And, really, if we had a bit more self-discipline to begin with we likely wouldn't be reading a series about mommy-anger. (Can I get an Amen?) If you are in a vicious and ugly cycle of angry reactions towards your children when they are being... children, it's time we learn to muscle through our knee-jerk tendencies with a little self-control. Just enough self-control to get ourselves into a quiet place for a few minutes! When we learn to pull away and take a few breaths, we just might remember what is true.
Hold every thought captive and remember what is true, lovely, pure...
Whatever it takes, moms, no matter how we feel mid-afternoon, we've got to master this pulling away in order to get a handle on ourselves again.
I've spent the past few weeks reading (and rereading and rereading...) Colossians 3. Today this verse in the Amplified translation gave me a clear directive: "But now rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language from your mouth." (Col 3:8)
Have you ever gotten so worked up that you've cussed at your kids? Perhaps blame and shame is more your angry dialect. Or maybe you just mumble one long negative thread of self-talk over yourself all day long. Or you're the mom who's quick to complain when she's out on the cul de sac with all the other ladies and their kids - giving into "foolish talk".
If you aren't prone to abusive, filthy, vulgar language, perhaps, like me, this verse makes you stop, convicted: "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." (Eh. 5:4)
Moms, no matter what brand of ugly words you spew in your weakest moments, our call is to "...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5b) That must happen before the thoughts can take root and bear fruit as real destructive words. We need to pull them out by the root! And, in their stead, plant truth. Yes, we've got to actively and purposefully pull away in those stress filled moment to fill our minds and mouths with thoughts and theories that are noble and right, edifying and true.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." (Phil. 5:8)
And the amazing thing that happens when we put ourselves in a mommy time out, in order to meditate on what is true, is that our hearts get all filled up with truth... and we overflow with all that good stuff.
"...from the heart the mouth speaks." (Luke 6:48)
My favorite quote from the parenting book Triggers is "Figure out what you mean to say before you say something mean." Amber Lia and I then went a step further in our follow-up book Parenting Scripts, when we took you from gentle principles to practical help. In Parenting Scripts we encourage you to slow down, sit down, and write down a better response. If you want to know what Amber Lia and I each say in our homes to our kids, grab a copy of Parenting Scripts today.
And a mommy time-out is just what you need to craft some better, gentler, more loving responses for those triggered moments.