The True Value of Parental Time Out

I have written about Dr Mark Schillinger DC previously on my blog and credit him for helping to restore my body back to health at Schillinger Chiropractic & Wellness Center in San Rafael. He is also an expert in male adolescence and family unity. He is the creator of The RIGHT Way® 
which is an integral method of personal growth, also the founder of The Young Men's Ultimate Weekend, a modern rites of passage initiation for young men.

His partner Zoe Fry CMT is a mother of two teenagers and a teacher of Presence and Inquiry, also the founder of Be A Gifta corporation dedicated to the evolution of Gift consciousness. She was inspired to co-create the Ultimate Parenting Weekend, which gives parents the tools to create thriving families.

Zoe and Mark were kind enough to share their expertise by writing today’s guest post about the true value of parents taking time out for themselves:

The True Value of Parental Time Outs

“As mentors and educators of parents with challenging teenagers, we see the end results of years of bad habits. The one that tops our list is the lack of parental Self-care. Most parents, especially new ones, often feel overwhelmed by all of the demands on their time. Scheduling time in the gym or on the massage table loses priority. As the years roll along the kid's school wants you to volunteer, the laundry and the cooking need to get done, the kids need help with their homework and their sports practices and social activities require you to drive them everywhere.

On top of that, the parents that work have even less time for themselves. Before you know it you have given many years to the care of your family and are left feeling disheartened that you've forgotten who you are and how to nurture yourself.

Just as a financial advisor helping you plan your retirement will remind you that you must pay yourself first, by taking a little from now to invest in the future, self care now will work in the exact same way. Believe it or not, your family will silently thank you for it. 

Mark always lovingly reminds me when I forget self-care, “No one is happy if Mommy is unhappy”.  And it’s true that the ripple effect of a burned out parent can be devastating to a family and a marriage. We see it far too frequently in our practice. Because our cultural values of productivity and independence drive us to over give and over perform, we don't always focus our attention on ourselves. This can be remedied by what we call the Parental Time Out. Just like we put our child in a quiet place when their behavior is not in alignment with the behavioral values of the family, we need to give ourselves a time out. 

The effect of a time out for child or parent is to return to a ‘resting state’ or a return to ‘self’. Time outs are a reset button for humans. In essence, it’s a mini meditation vacation practice. Being alone allows us a few moments to release whatever was agitating us. For a child that might be jealousy of the new baby, or a possessive impulse to hoard all the blocks, or frustration at a sibling for crossing the line in the back seat of the car. 

For an adult it could be the thought that I must get out of the house at a certain time or that I need to stop this baby from crying, even though I have already tried everything, or even that my partner isn’t helping enough. When parents take time out in the moment they catch themselves agitated, they model the values of good physical health and mental well being to their children.

If you worry that your children will become upset that you need a quick break, simply breathe slowly and tell them, even the babies, that you are taking a time out and that you will return, feeling better. Ideally, you will return to your responsibilities with more patience and love. You can even use a kitchen timer so they can keep track of your time out, as you do theirs. Tell them you need whatever amount of time feels right for you. With my teenagers I take 20 minutes, but when they were younger and needier, it was shorter. Go to your designated time out place. Mine is in my home office, where I sit or lie down and rest.

Ignore the protests and interruptions with a loving indifference and, eventually their hostility will die down. Begin by allowing your mind to get quieter by focusing on relaxing your body. Notice where your body tensions are and gently contract and release them. Make sure to allow at least one minute of stillness and internal silence before you complete your time out.

Even if you're not good at this kind of thing, with consistent practice you'll be rewarded with the gift of serenity. You'll come out of your time out reset and ready to respond to the needs and chaos instead of reacting and feeling overwhelmed.

When non-punitive Time Outs become routine within your family culture it gives parents and children a sense of personal responsibility to care for themselves.  This makes everyone accountable to regulate their own feelings and reactive behaviors. Living this way will reduce everyone's stress and make room for the love everyone in the house wants.

Be sure to find out more about Mark Schillinger's services, Zoe Fry’s Be A Gift project and the Young Men Ultimate Weekend taking place in June.

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