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What To Do When You Crave a Mummy 'Time-Out'

Single Parent Parenting

Chaley-Ann Scott | 20 October 2012

Mummy Time Out

You have had four hours sleep,

the house looks like you've been burgled...

You have had four hours sleep, the house looks like you've been burgled, the kids are screaming at each other, and the baby has colic. We have all been there and it's not pretty. You feel overwhelmed, under appreciated and let's be honest- R.E.S.E.N.T.F.U.L. You want no CRAVE- time away. Time to recharge, time to be yourself, time to not feel like a raving lunatic mummy for just a short-while. You have fantasies about reading a book in peace, wearing a pretty dress (minus the stains), or having an uninterrupted conservation over a long, calm, adults-only lunch. This isn't a good head space to be in, it can feel so imprisoning, yet we all feel it at one time or another.

What are we encouraged to do about it? Modern parenting advice tells us to seek out, and actually insist, on that 'Mummy Me-Time' away from our kids. We are told it is vital for us (it helps us to recharge and have interests outside of motherhood) and important for our babies and young children (they learn to be independent from us). But is it really such a good thing all-round, and does it even work? In my opinion it is a big fat NO to both.

What I have learnt from my own experience as a mother-of-four, and as a parenting counsellor...

What I have learnt from my own experience as a mother-of-four, and as a parenting counsellor working with many mothers in this situation, is that grappling for time apart from our kids often leaves to more frustration and upset all around. It rarely recharges us enough, as promised, to feel better when we come back and we are stuck in a vicious circle of craving more and more (and feeling frustrated when we can't get it).

Children typically react in various negative ways too due to our absence from protesting widely when we leave, to being very clingy or challenging when we return. Why is this? Because when they are young children only want to be once place by our side. By the time kids reach puberty, certainly, they'll be able to understand other people have needs too. But if they reach puberty experiencing that the way to meet needs is by ignoring someone else's, that's how they'll treat others.

Expecting to make time for one's self with multiple young children is an unreasonable expectation. It may be possible if the children have a strong attachment to someone else, but in most cases they just want mum!. I understand that moments away have value but the more we hold on for time away - for an hour, just an hour, to ourselves - the less we enjoy our moments with our kids. Getting a 'Time-Out', even for an hour may help in the moment, but it sure won't fix it. It is like sticking a band aid over a severed limb.

So what can we do to retain our sanity?...

So what can we do to retain our sanity? Switching gears from needing a 'Mummy Time-Out' to refuel to being able to refuel by being even more present with our kids is a much more practical solution. The fact is when our children are young, learning how to be contented - to be happy - to get joy from being with them is pretty pivotal. But how can we make this shift in consciousness when we are at our wits end?

Ironically enough what really does help is to do the exact opposite of what we feel we need 'in the moment'. Rather than run for the hills, actually get down to their level and really be with them. Bring them food, play a game, sing, chat, dance, read, tickle, run around outside - whatever helps us to reconnect. It sounds trite, but remember to savour those moments.

Does this approach really work? Many of the mothers I work with say it helps enormously.

Does this approach really work? Many of the mothers I work with say it helps enormously.

When my oldest child was small I honestly didn't have these skills at first as it just didn't come naturally. In fact it was excruciating. I loved being a mummy but as an avid reader I craved stretches of time to do that and I HATED being interrupted. I kicked and screamed, mentally. I wanted my brain back. However, once I started to step away from the expectation that I *should* have stretches of time to myself I found I could snatch little moments throughout the day which helped me recharge a deep breath, reading an email, looking at the sky and completely accepting that I could and would be interrupted.

I also got into the habit of relishing those moments, no matter how small, as well as appreciating being able to really play with my kids and reminding myself they wouldn't always need me this much. It took practice for sure but the rewards are immense. It just takes mindfulness and courage to ignore the rest of society who actively encourage us to push our children away at the earliest opportunity and start pulling them closer to us - even when it might be the last thing in the world we feel like doing at that moment.


About the author...

go to Chaley-Ann's Profile

Chaley-Ann Scott, BA (Hons), IIS, ISA, is a sociologist, writer, parenting counsellor, and mother-of-four. She is a contributing editor to The Attached Family (Attachment Parenting International magazine), and a regular contributor to Mothering, Nurture, The Green Parent, The Mother, The Child, Kids on the Coast and Otherways. Her first book, The Shepherdess: A Guide to Mothering Without Control, is available in all good bookstores or online at or You can read more about Chaley-Ann on her Profile Page page here

This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of article contains only general information, correct at the date of publication. For advice regarding your own personal circumstances, always seek individual advice from a qualified professional. Read the full Disclaimer here

What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the


are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.


plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a


or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

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