Does Time Out Really Work? – MommySync
Motherhood

Does Time Out Really Work?

My head is ringing and the backs of my eyes hurt. This is pretty much a constant right now. The toddler tantrums are taking a toll on my body, mind, and spirit, and I’m sleeping less than ever! These girls keep me on my toes, and I rarely get to nap because the only time baby V doesn’t sleep is when the twins nap. So no catch up time for mama.

Fatigue is commonplace for mamas, and when you add toddler screaming, it will send just about anyone over the edge. The high pitched screeches my daughters hit are just ridiculous, and on days like today, Advil doesn’t cut it. I need some serious prescription medication and a week of sleep, neither of which are available, so I do what moms do: persist. 

Despite being Mom Tired, I persevere, and I’ve become a stickler for time out. I’ve found that consistent reinforcement of time out has helped tremendously. This might seem really simple, but twins feed off of each other. So where a singleton will listen, the twins find solidarity in misbehaving, and it can be very difficult to manage.

I hold firm beliefs in only creating rules I can enforce. So once we’ve set up time out as a consequence, it doesn’t matter what’s happening, I need to enforce it. The dogs can be going crazy, Baby V is crying for a bottle, I have to use the restroom, I have to eat something, I have to finish cooking/cleaning. Everything has to be put on hold to enforce time out, and sometimes it’s more exhausting to be consistent than to just give them what they want. 

The girls will usually receive warnings for unacceptable behavior, but throwing a tantrum gets them put in time out immediately. No warnings; they know better. And I’ve seen a reduction in tantrums thrown. I did not know time out could be effective this early on with twins. I thought I just had to survive the terrible twos, and let me tell you, I was not surviving. 

The twin factor was killing me. I have one kid who kind of listens and one that thinks everything is a game. At the park, she will literally laugh at me as she’s running towards traffic, and I’m screaming and running after her to stop. This is the reason I never go anywhere alone. It’s simply not safe. And although I have one child that listens better than the other, the mischievous child often enlists the help of her sister to engage in trouble. So both of my children end up being a handful. 

Now that we have an effective routine and location for time out, I’ve seen some really wonderful developmental changes in my girls. They are listening much better, and they are learning consequences for their actions. I always knew about these benefits, but I was really surprised with the timing. I didn’t know I could get both girls in time out, while feeding a baby, and keep them there. The girls tend to split and run on me, and it can be difficult to establish order. Throw in a baby and potty training, and you have yourself a disaster.

The girls tried to pull one over on me and say, “Potty! Potty!” whenever they were in time out. I’ve learned to keep a plastic potty near the time out corner, so the girls have zero reasons to get out early. And I’ve just accepted the fact that baby V’s feedings will be constantly interrupted by refereeing, water cup refills, and time out enforcement. No one said mom life was easy.

Despite trying to get my kids out of the house as often as possible, using arts and crafts when we can’t get out, and consistent reinforcement of time out, some days are still just horrible. So horrible, it makes me question my parenting skills. Would a better mother know how to handle her children? Would a better mother have better behaved children?

The interesting thing is that my kids behave for everyone except for me. They are little angels when I drop them off at yoga daycare or when I have family members watch them. But whenever they’re around me (and sometimes papa), they act out. I know this is a plea for attention, and I do my best to address their needs. I try to give lots of cuddles and kiss their boo boos and give each child individual attention. But I am one person, and inevitably someone feels left out, and oh boy does she show me just how she feels.

Some days we have wonderful snuggle days, and some days my head just throbs from toddler twin screaming. It’s like constantly being at a kids’ party, and it really lowers my ability to respond to stimuli with patience. Some days I am just a hot mess, but then I remember that these are the best days. I am told over and over how quickly the time at home will go and how important it is to be present and thankful. Let’s just say, some days I do this well, and some days I remind myself it’s ok to be a mess.

It’s ok to have three baskets of laundry that need to be folded. It’s ok to have a sink full of dishes. It’s ok to have toys littered all over the floor. What’s important is that my children feel loved, and that I take care of myself. I want to enjoy this time; it only comes once.

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