8: Time-Out for Mommy

8: Time-Out for Mommy

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

Time-Out for Mommy

Coloring outside the lines is a fine art.

~Kim Nance

It all started out quite innocently. My two older girls were home sick from school, and my youngest was toddling around, still refusing to be potty-trained. I had run out of ideas for keeping everyone happy, so I decided to set my daughters up in the playroom to watch a movie. (Exhaustion makes you believe that you can trust a six-year-old, a four-year-old, and a two-year-old to just sit and watch a movie while Mommy takes a break.)

Feeling like my girls were sufficiently mesmerized by the television screen, I slipped out of the room for what I rationalized would be a quick minute. Now, I want to tell you I headed to do noble mommy things — like scrubbing toilets or making my own baby food or folding my thousandth load of laundry — but I didn’t. Nope. I checked my e-mail.

Keeping an ear open for any tears or sudden crashes, I happily clicked away on my laptop. And with nothing but the sound of cartoon characters coming from the other room, I decided it would be okay to read one short blog post — which may have led to another one and then possibly another one after that.

When sweet giggles drifted out of the playroom, I smiled and thought to myself, “Oh, how nice. Listen to the love. They are having fun.” Perhaps if I had not been so caught up in reading my favorite blogs, my mommy alarm would have gone off — the alarm that notices there is too much quiet and that everyone is getting along too well. The alarm that sends you to see what everyone is really up to.

But instead of hearing that inner alarm, I soon heard my oldest daughter’s tiny voice cheerfully declaring, “Mommy, Lauren is coloring us!” Sure enough, there she stood — her face and sweatshirt scrawled with pink marker, the joy in her voice revealing she had been a willing canvas for my two-year-old.

I bolted to the other room to assess what else bore the mark of my little Picasso. There I found my middle child colored on, toys colored on, and even a sippy cup colored on. I went from distracted mama to angry and disbelieving mama in a matter of seconds. Prying the marker from my toddler’s hand, I swooped her up and marched her to her crib.

With my marker bandit safely behind bars and my older daughters in their rooms for a time-out, I stomped back toward the kitchen. Angry thoughts swirled in my mind. “Couldn’t someone have gotten me before she colored everything but the TV? Come on now! I’m not promoting tattling, but there are things I need to know about. They know we only color on paper and the dry-erase board!”

As I internally huffed and puffed about my now pink ladies, a humbling question bubbled up inside of me. “So, who is going to put YOU in time-out?”

And then I realized that I shared the blame. Should my older girls have known better than to let my littlest color on them and everything in sight? Yes. But should I have also known better than to leave them unattended for so long? (Sigh.) For sure.

With a corrected heart, I thanked God no one ended up hurt during my time of distraction. Sure, a sweatshirt that once could be worn in public would have to become a sleep shirt, but other than that, everyone was fine. Pink, but fine.

In the end, we all learned a few life lessons that would keep us from having quite as many time-outs. My girls learned that sisters are not for coloring on. And me? Well, I learned there are times I am just going to have to ignore the siren call of the Internet — at least until all my adventurous girls are sound asleep.

~Kimberly D. Henderson

More stories from our partners