Parenting Secret: Know When It’s Time to Call It a Day for Your Child

My 8 year old son (Vman) sat in the back seat of the car.

Huge tears poured down his cheeks.

His face contorted in complete anguish.

“I just don’t want to go to gymnastics,” he bellowed.

I twisted my head to look into the back seat.

Hbomb, my insightful 6 year old, gave me that knowing look… here we go again.

“Mom, it’s okay we if we miss gymnastics,” Hbomb stated.

Oh my goodness, how giving that boy is!

My children love gymnastics.

And when I say love, I mean LOVE.

It is the most incredible workout out there for these boys.

After an hour of climbing ropes, swinging from the rings and flipping around on the bar, they are drenched in sweat.

Never mind how awesome it is for their sensory diet… gymnastics is just awesome for any kid, period.

But when you have kids with Sensory Processing Disorder, meeting their physical sensory diet needs is paramount.

Skipping gymnastics can mean the difference between a good couple of days and some not so great days.

Parenting Secret: Know When It's Time to Call It a Day for Your Child | Mommy Evolution

Meltdown or Something Else?

At first, I thought I’d just wait out the meltdown.

Sometimes Vman just needs to let it all out before we can move forward.

So I pulled the car over to the side of the road, took a deep breath and calmly spoke with him.

But today wasn’t just a regular meltdown for Vman… a letting go of the day.

Instead of thrashing about, he was actually in control, but those tears just kept pouring out.

He was sharing his raw emotions, and the simple fact was, Vman was done for the day.

It didn’t help that the previous two days after school we had some sort of appointment — including allergy shots and the orthodontist.

He hadn’t had his usual reset time at home, and it was showing.

Plus, we were trying to get back into the rhythm of our routine after spring break.

Listen To Your Child: Know When It’s Time to Call It a Day

As a sensory parent, a big part of my job is to keep in tune with the nuances of Vman’s moods.

Is he on the road toward a meltdown? Or is it just a tantrum? Is there something more going on than what appears on the surface?

Often what can feel like defiance, out-of-control behavior or just plain bratty outbursts is actually a sign of something bigger going on.

As parents, I think we can sometimes get so focused on what is supposed to happen (like getting to an appointment, making sports practice or meeting up for that play date), that we lose focus on the inner workings of our kids.

Kids need downtime, just like adults.

Kids need the chance to reset, just like adults.

And some days, kids need to play hooky from expectations, just like adults do.

For Vman, that was all three.

Thankfully, my younger kiddo is willing to go with the flow on many days.

It can’t be easy for him to miss out on things because of his older brother.

But Hbomb recognizes that Vman has certain needs, and the family runs better as a unit if we all work together to support one another.

Veg Out… But Not All Day

When we got home, the boys instantly changed into boxer shorts (that’s what my sensory kids do) and cuddled up on the couch with me.

We watched TV, and as I sat through the laugh track of yet another kid’s program, I realized that perhaps I needed the chance to reset and zone out as much as Vman.

After an hour (and some snacks), the bright cheery boy returned. Vman was feeling like himself again.

He grabbed his soccer cleats, shin guards and ball and headed off for soccer practice, feeling like a revived kid.

Hbomb and I looked at each other.

“I’m sorry you missed gymnastics today,” I told him. “

That’s okay, Mom,” he replied. “I needed the break anyway.”

And that’s when it hit me.

Just because Hbomb isn’t as dramatic as Vman in stating he needs to reset, there are days he needs it just as much.

While more extreme sensory kids may show their needs and feel the effects of being overwhelmed more, all kids need the chance to decompress.

Some days, you have to teach your kids to push through life.

And some days, you just have to teach your kids that it’s okay to play hooky once in a while.

Be sure to hear from other special needs parents, too!


  1. wendy Bertagnole says:

    What a great and honest post. I couldn’t agree more with the idea that sometimes we just need to teach our kids to take a break from it all and zone out. I know I appreciate those times when I can play hookey from everything and take some time for myself, it shouldn’t be any different for the kids. Thank you for this post and for permission to just chill out!

    1. Wendy, Yes! Teaching our kids when it’s okay to just walk away for the day is just as important, I think.

  2. It seems like we have something every day. Tonight, when we got the text that baseball practice was canceled, we all sighed a sigh of relief. My kiddo and I hadn’t been home since school got out. With dinner, homework and whatever else comes your way…a day off (of even just one activity) can be so relaxing…to EVERYONE!

    1. Funny how you all had a sigh of relief…. some days we move on and go… and some days it’s fine and other days we wish we had just stayed home.

  3. It is always a struggle of balance between keeping my kid busy enough (or they get antsy and irritable) and not over tired when they get emotional and irritable. I have frankly not found our sweet spot yet. Sounds like you made the right call.

    BTW, my kids love Dog with a Blog, too and I feel about the same way about the laugh track.


    1. LOL! I actually think Dog with a Blog is a cute show — but man that laugh track gets to me. Of course, the kids don’t notice at all.

      Finding that sweet spot — I think it’s a balancing act EVERY day!

  4. We had that kind of day today. My little A-man called from school by 9 a.m.
    “Mom, I got in trouble for not having my smock” (It was in his backpack)
    “Mrs. N yelled at me for not taking my med this morning and forced me to the nurse’s office to get it from you”.
    “Study Buddy is today and I have common core testing. Do I do both, Mom?”

    An 11 year old child should not have this much stress and concerning decisions. (In this day, parents do rule.)
    I went in to give permission for medication and excused him from Study Buddy day. As adults we know our limits. Putting ourselves into our children’s world makes us realize what they can and cannot handle.
    Parents know what our children need and what their abilities are. Knowing this was an off day I just had to define the boundaries.

    My sensory child questioned himself. I just affirmed his “calling it a day challenge” and let him breathe to catch up.

    You made the right call. Thank you for reminding me. <3

    1. Good call, Mom! I bet a dollar that some other moms would have just had their kiddo push through rather than recognizing what he needed.

  5. As an extra curricular activity, I had known abt Art, music, etc , not gymnastics! I thought gymnastics was “kinda” covered when you take kids to the playground! Lol. I’m really kicked abt this idea and will figure out a way to get gymnastics in our lives too. Maybe not right away (he’s 3.5 and I guess what happens at school is enough) , but sometime soon.

    And Yes they need a break! We need a break too! We all need our breaks 🙂

    Thanks for the post! such a nice read 🙂

    1. We actually started both our sons in gymnastics around 1… my oldest son desperately needed the turning and flipping. We decided not to go to a “cute” gym but rather found an actual gymnastics program that they’ve grown up with. It’s been amazing. We started with just a Saturday morning class… and if it’s a good fit for your kiddo, I can’t recommend starting it now enough 🙂

  6. Sarah Bitner says:

    This applies in the classroom as well. As a teacher, sometimes we have to play hooky from the expectations of school. They burn out. They run on empty, and as a teacher, I’m supposed to push them through…but sometimes I don’t. Sometimes we get out the Legos and the art supplies instead and I refuse to ever feel bad about that.

    1. So smart to read the classroom and understand what the kids need! It’s an important balance to know when to push the kids and when they really do need a break.

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