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Time-Out for Parents and the use of Micro-breaks.

Updated: Jan 3

Let’s talk about Time-Out.

We aren’t talking about the time-out used in standard parenting, where parents put their children in time-out to think about their actions. This potentially shame-inducing technique is especially unhelpful for children who have experienced early life trauma and leaves little opportunity for the child to be supported in regulating their emotions. We mean Time-Out for you, time away to rest, reflect, and reset.

Why is it important to take a Time-out?

We all need to take a break at some point and need to recharge. Our bodies sometimes can communicate this loud and clear with signs of physical and emotional fatigue, depending on how busy and intense our lives are at that moment in time.

However, the need to recharge come

s with some communication from our bodies, signs of exhaustion like frustration, emotional overwhelm, and finding it difficult to concentrate are all warning signs that if aren’t heeded can lead down the slippery road to compassion fatigue and burnout.

This leads us nicely to the practicalities of having a break, for instance, a night away, which can be easier said than done. You may think this is more hassle than it is worth, especially if you have a young family with children at home with childcare, house, and pets to organise before going anyway. This alone sounds exhausting, let alone having the energy to put into making this happen.

So, what’s the point of trying?

The reluctance and demotivation to take time-out is a symptom of compassion fatigue, it may seem like too much hassle. It may not feel like it’s worth the effort, especially if you have been worn down by the day-to-day challenges and unexpected obstacles of life, including parenting. This can be magnified if you are looking after children with complex needs.

The point is…

Once you start taking time-out, your body can rest, this alone helps you to gain clarity and perspective on daily life. You may find you have had little time to yourself, once you experience how it makes you feel, you will want to experience it again and build in more time.

Back to reality…

A weekend or a night away may sound like the unobtainable, as we have explored briefly earlier, it can be a logistical nightmare. Also, you may not have the headspace to organise a night away, or you haven’t got the energy for the repercussions which may arise with children, housework, or work commitments backlog when you return.

Let’s start small.

Time-out doesn’t have to be a break away, although that would be ideal, minus the hassle of arranging it.

Another way of giving yourself time-out is in the form of micro-breaks. Micro-breaks give you a small window of time, ideally within 5-10 minutes, where you can focus and be present, regulate your emotions, and lower your cortisol levels (the stress hormone). The aim is to start adding a few in your day, where you can then extend these for longer periods, building in time to have breaks.

Micro breaks…

Starting small with micro-breaks can include concentrating on your breathing. Choose to sit or stand and concentrate on your breathing for a couple of minutes.

Another example is using Mindfulness when you are eating or drinking. Take time to savour a warm drink, the way it tastes the way it looks and the way it smells. See how long you can make it last whilst sitting in quiet surroundings.

Ideal times for this are at the start of the day, when children are napping, or when the children are in bed. Make use of the time when they are resting, yes this may seem difficult at first and you may think of a million and one things you can do when you have some quiet time to yourself, but also you may not know where to start. Taking 5 minutes out will help bring clarity to your thinking and focus your mind on tasks you need to complete.

In a nutshell, taking time out with micro-breaks gives you the space to think about what you are doing right now and put stress and worries to the back of your mind for a moment and encourage relaxation and a reduction of stress levels. It also helps to change your mindset and encourages you to take some time for yourself daily, in time, you may work up to wanting a breakaway but more importantly, it helps you to make a start in creating healthy habits to support your physical and mental health.

More ideas on getting started with creating healthy habits are included in our events sections under Day Retreats.


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