Sometimes Mom Just Needs a Time Out

It finally happened. The you-know-what hit the fan, and I’ve officially lost it. My amazingly adorable, intelligent and loving three-year-old just became THAT kid, the bad kid. Yes, I know it’s a phase… everyone is telling me it’s a phase…. OMG, it better be a phase.

Brendan is now consistently getting bad reports at school. He apparently forgot how to share, picked up hitting, and screams like a cat in heat when he doesn’t get his way. Okay, things could be worse. A lot worse. But let’s be honest (and selfish) for a moment. My mental state is at stake here. If mommy loses her mind, then what?

My behavior these last few weeks has changed too. I have lost my patience. I have my own temper tantrums. My frustration is visible, and I can’t help but turn red and clench my teeth when my child is acting out. I want to throw something. Run away. Mommy needs a time out.

No one told me how hard this was going to be. And that there would be these moments, split-second moments, when I plan my escape.

The worst thing about all of this, besides the anger and frustration, is fear. Fear that, oh my god, something is wrong with my child. He’s going to be intolerable–scare all the other kids away–not be invited to birthday parties.

Alright, so who really cares about parties. I’m just trying to figure out what the problem is and how I can fix it.

I’d like to chalk it up to the fact that Brendan realizes his new baby sister is here to stay, although sometimes I have to convince myself of that. Why? Because he seems to love her. Multiple times a day he says to me “Mommy, I love Audrey.” Ugh, how could this sweet boy turn into a mini-monster?

How could these angels cause mommy stress? Photo by Jaiden Photography

Aside from sibling jealousy, what else could be causing this behavior?

  • He’s three!! And three is the new terrible two
  • Not enough alone time with Mommy? I’ve definitely considered this and am trying to give him some one-on-one.
  • He’s going through an “emotional” growth spurt. I forget where I heard this from, but I love it. Sometimes I gently tell him he needs to learn how to control his emotions. And then when Daddy comes home, he runs to the door to tell him “need to control ‘motions Daddy!”
  • I’m doing it wrong… and now we need Super Nanny to come to our house. Or worse, have Dr. Phil set up his secret cameras.

The bottom line is the good moments always outweigh the bad. And although we joke about planning an escape, how could we live without them?

Perhaps there are some other moms out there who can remind me how tough they’ve had it so I can feel a little better about myself.

Vicky Lane
Vicky Lane is the co-owner and co-founder of Jacksonville Mom (formerly Jax Moms Blog). Since 2012, she has been overseeing the content and technical side of Jacksonville Mom. In this role, she manages over 30 writers and works closely with the managing editor to provide the most relevant content for the Jacksonville parenting community. In her previous career, Vicky obtained her Masters in Education and served as University Registrar at the University of North Florida. Wife to adoring husband John, her love for all things “Mom” began in 2010 when their son Brendan was born. Vicky chose to put her full-time career in higher education on hold to spend time with her new baby, giving her a new respect for motherhood and parenting. In June 2012, John and Vicky welcomed sweet Audrey to the family. Vicky has created an amazing circle of Moms who are continuously seeking new ways to enrich their children’s lives in and around Jacksonville. Being part of the creation of an online parenting resource and small business that serves the great Jacksonville area has allowed her to flourish in a successful career while remaining present for her family.


  1. Vicky you are definitely not alone. I have three boys. 18, 10, and our youngest will be 5 in April. No matter what age they all act out. Joshua our 10 year old went through a very bad phase last year. His tantrums and acting out got so bad I took him for cognitive behavior therapy. He was acting out for attention. The therapist wanted us to focus on the positive things he did. Big loud appreciation. I know it sounds silly. “GREAT JOB getting your homework done without arguing.” Or, ” I noticed you went to time out with out talking back I’m so proud of you. You are doing a great job. Give me a hug.” Try it. When he does something to get in trouble put him in timeout. Then reward him with positive attention. Get the book Transforming a Difficult Child. It was the one the therapist recommended and it has all the information and more to get you going in the right direction. When our oldest is having a rough day and taking it out on us or the kids we simply give him a hug. My husband goes as far as to kiss him on the check and tell him he loves him. It makes him smile and breaks the tension.

    • Thanks Holly! This is great advice… the last few days we’ve been going that extra mile with positive reinforcement, and you can just see his pride shine through 🙂

  2. Having three boys of my own, I can totally understand where you’re coming from. There are days when I want to run in my room, their the covers over my head and escape into a book or a TV show.

    Mommys DO need timeouts. Sometimes, we just have to step back and try to see a situation from another perspective. Its easier to deal with an emotional person… this case a temporarily out of control toddler…..when we’re not reacting emotionally. Instead, stop, walk away if possible, BREATHE, and think about what happened, not how you feel about what happened.

    My eldest son is now 19 yrs old and my youngest is 10 yrs. I would agree that they have all gone through emotional growth spurts. Three years was the toughest, but between the ages of 4-5 they simmered down. But at 7 something came unleashed again!! Not as bad as 3….maybe because they are older and don’t want to perceived as babies….?? By nine they were much better. I’m now going through another spurt with my middle-schooler. Maybe its hormones….?? My point is, it comes in waves, it seems. And there is an end to it….i have to believe that!

    My advice: be consistent, be consistent, be consistent! Its ok to empathize with your child about certain situation. Yes, allow them their feelings and opinions….even encourage them to talk about them. But don’t allow yourself to make excuses or blame yourself for their misbehavior. Practice and promote accountability! And finally, hug each other as often as you possibly can…..even when they’re acting “unhuggable”


  3. He’s just preparing you for Audrey. Hang in there, Mama. You are still in charge. You are still the Mama. You have the power. Your reaction feeds his behavior sometimes and you can’t give him an audience when he is misbehaving. It’s a tough thing – the whole motherhood thing – but it does have so many rewards. You are still bigger than him too! 🙂

  4. I so feel your pain, Vicky. T is 2.5 and this is our life. Every,single.time we are out in public I hear “wow, you have your hands full!” Gee, thanks. Or “how far apart are they” like I am so deranged crazy person for having a second after him. The thing is, I love him to pieces. He’s just a handful right now, and the comments from others don’t help. Hang in there, but I am chugging wine with you in solidarity.


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