What Happens When You Put Yourself in Time-out?

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take a time-out

“That’s it! You’re in time-out, Buster!”

Sound familiar? Perhaps you said these words (or something similar) to your child an hour ago, or maybe it’s been years since they last passed your lips. Most likely though, if you are a parent, you found yourself resorting to time-out at some point.

And for good reason. Emotions are usually running high during a child’s infraction. Time-outs allow all parties involved to regroup and refocus.

But have you ever thought about what happens when you put yourself in time-out?

One day I put myself there—twice!

It’s Important to Take Time-Outs

My first time-out looked suspiciously like a social meeting with a sweet friend. The second: a short walk on a trail I’ve neglected for awhile.

That’s right. These sidetracks can be considered time-outs. We generally think of time-out as a negative consequence. But it really isn’t .

When we examine its definition, we simply find a proactive attempt to stop the current action.


noun ˈtīm-ˈau̇t

          1: a brief suspension of activity : break; especially : a suspension of play in an athletic game

2: a quiet period used especially as a disciplinary measure for children

And who doesn’t need at least one break in the way their day is going? Jesus recognized the importance of breaks in the daily routine, incorporated them in His ministry (removing Himself to pray [Matthew 14:23] and to rest [John 4:6], among others), and encouraged His disciples to do the same.

Thought of in this way, a time-out can be an important tool in experiencing productive, satisfying days. They are perhaps more important as a rest break then a discipline break.

A time-out can be an important tool in experiencing productive, satisfying days. Share on X

In fact, many successful inventors, great thinkers, and entrepreneurs build a time-out in the form of a nap into each day. Best-selling author, speaker, and former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers,  Michael Hyatt, even wrote a post and created a podcast about the importance of naps.

I’m not much of a napper, but my forced time-outs accomplish some of the same goals. They allow me to step away from the constant demands of the day. To gain new perspective. To tackle my work refreshed. To enjoy the process.

When I go back to my tasks, it is with renewed vigor.

What a Time-Out Offers

We all have great demands put on us each day. Sometimes by others. Often by ourselves. Time-outs help us manage these demands in several ways:

  • help us refresh and gain new insight into our daily demands (perhaps, not all tasks need to be done that day, or maybe one or two can be shortened)
  • allow for a fresh perspective on how to tackle a task
  • prevent or control the “knee-jerk” reaction often present when under stress
  • foster enjoyment of the process, not just the outcome
  • give us time to breathe and embrace the blessings that permeate each day

Think of time-outs as debriefings. Do yourself a favor and build one or two into each day. Maybe make one a nap …

And when you feel like you’re caught in a tsunami, put yourself in time-out again. Don’t hesitate to say, “That’s it! You’re in time-out, Buster!”

It may be exactly what you need to reconnect with the One who offers the perfect shelter for your storm.

A time-out may be exactly what you need to reconnect with the One who offers the perfect shelter for your storm. Share on X

“The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, ‘Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.’  For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat” (Mark 6:30–31 MSG).

Reflections: Can you identify times of your day when a time-out might be most effective? Are there certain types of time-outs that have helped/or you think would help you more than others? Have you experienced a downside to taking time-outs?

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By His Grace,



  1. Natasha Metzler on September 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Love this!!!

    • juliesunne on September 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      Thanks, Natasha.

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Julie Sunne

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's blessings to get lost in its happenings. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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