“Cameron! If you do not put down that phone and do what I asked you NOW, you will have a time out!”
“Alright. Time out. Now!”
My toddler boy had just, absentmindedly, caused his wooden toddler chair to fall onto his baby brother. Gavin wasn’t hurt or in any danger, so I thought it was appropriate to have Cameron fix his mistake and help his brother. All I asked him to do was turn around from his game on my iPhone and pick up the chair. Then, he could return to playing.
But he refused.
After his two-minutes-for-a-two-year-old were up, I crouched down in front of his time out chair and gave him a hug.
“I know you like to play on the phone, Buddy, but family always comes first. When something is wrong with your brother Gavin, you need to help him. That is your job. That is what family does. Next time Gavin needs help, can you please help him? Yes? That’s great Cameron. Thank you. I love you so much. Now, go tell Gavin you love him.”
Family comes first.
That was what the time out was about.
Not for hitting. Not for biting. Not for throwing toys. Not even really for disobeying (although that too).
It was to emphasize that in our family, family comes first. Before anything else. Always.
As I watched my little boy run off to give his baby brother a kiss, my mind rushed back to a few hours earlier. The baby was napping. I had flicked on Sesame Street to entertain Cameron and had settled myself into the recliner. All I needed was a little shut-eye. I’d be able to watch the toddler and listen for the baby while half asleep, right?
As I laid there, reclined, Cameron climbed up on me. He gave me kisses hoping to wake me up like sleeping beauty. He said “Wake up, Mama!”. Then he laid down beside me and put his little moptop head beside mine. As I smelled his sugary sweet breakfast cereal breath, I asked him to move to the couch.
“Mama just needs a little rest Buddy. Okay? Mama’s tired”.
When exhaustion takes over, Mama guilt tends to take a backseat…
…until a few hours later as I’m disciplining the toddler for not putting his family first and I realized that it might be me who really needs to learn that lesson.
So, Laura, Go take your time out. Take it when the kids are in bed and make sure you recharge. I know you like to play on the Internet. I know you like to stay up late and be social and write and find a little time for yourself. But family always comes first. Don’t let anything get in the way of loving your family. That is your job. That is what a Mama does. Next time your children want you, can you please be there for them? Yes? That’s great! Now, go tell your family you love them.
Do you ever find yourself disciplining your kids for something you should be disciplined for?