When our children were little, a time out was the symbol of trouble, somebody had pushed Mom past the point of understanding and they needed to take a break. Truth was that break usually as much for me as them.
These days my teens still take time outs. Some more often than others, depending on the need and their individual personalities. For example, our oldest daughter was away at college last year and every few weeks would have a strong need to come home. We would be tempted to make plans to go do fun things, but she just wanted to be home, hearing the music that plays in our house almost constantly, resting on the couch while I cooked dinner. She needed a time out from the stress of college, some home cooking and to be reminded that she is loved.
Last week out youngest daughter texted me while at school, middle of her morning and said she was struggling with friends and that maybe she should come home for the day. I picked her up at lunchtime and took her out to lunch. Just the two of us for less than an hour. We talked about school and Homecoming and plans for the evening, and a little about what was bothering her. I dropped my girl off at school in time to get back to class and she had a great afternoon. She just needed a time out for fresh air and a sandwich, and to be reminded that she is loved.
Later this week my guy is taking our son on a trip to New York City for a long weekend. He’s off to a great start on the school year that is normally known for being a stressful one, and this will be a time of refreshment and bonding with his Dad. He just needs a couple of days away in a city he’s admired for years, and to be reminded that he is loved.
In our family, a teenage time out can be a late lunch at a downtown restaurant, a quick trip to the a favorite store for a special skirt, or just a walk with the dogs through the neighborhood. The trick has been figuring out what works with whom, and making the time to do it. I love having big kids for many reasons, but one of them is because I actually enjoy their time outs these days.