Family First

“Cameron! Now!”

“Cameron! If you do not put down that phone and do what I asked you NOW, you will have a time out!”

“Alright. Time out. Now!”

My toddler boy had just, absentmindedly, caused his wooden toddler chair to fall onto his baby brother. Gavin wasn’t hurt or in any danger, so I thought it was appropriate to have Cameron fix his mistake and help his brother. All I asked him to do was turn around from his game on my iPhone and pick up the chair. Then, he could return to playing.

But he refused.

After his two-minutes-for-a-two-year-old were up, I crouched down in front of his time out chair and gave him a hug.

“I know you like to play on the phone, Buddy, but family always comes first. When something is wrong with your brother Gavin, you need to help him. That is your job. That is what family does. Next time Gavin needs help, can you please help him? Yes? That’s great Cameron. Thank you. I love you so much. Now, go tell Gavin you love him.”

Family comes first.

That was what the time out was about.

Not for hitting. Not for biting. Not for throwing toys. Not even really for disobeying (although that too).

It was to emphasize that in our family, family comes first. Before anything else. Always.

As I watched my little boy run off to give his baby brother a kiss, my mind rushed back to a few hours earlier. The baby was napping. I had flicked on Sesame Street to entertain Cameron and had settled myself into the recliner. All I needed was a little shut-eye. I’d be able to watch the toddler and listen for the baby while half asleep, right?

As I laid there, reclined, Cameron climbed up on me. He gave me kisses hoping to wake me up like sleeping beauty. He said “Wake up, Mama!”. Then he laid down beside me and put his little moptop head beside mine. As I smelled his sugary sweet breakfast cereal breath, I asked him to move to the couch.

“Mama just needs a little rest Buddy. Okay? Mama’s tired”.

When exhaustion takes over, Mama guilt tends to take a backseat…

…until a few hours later as I’m disciplining the toddler for not putting his family first and I realized that it might be me who really needs to learn that lesson.

So, Laura, Go take your time out. Take it when the kids are in bed and make sure you recharge. I know you like to play on the Internet. I know you like to stay up late and be social and write and find a little time for yourself. But family always comes first. Don’t let anything get in the way of loving your family. That is your job. That is what a Mama does. Next time your children want you, can you please be there for them? Yes? That’s great! Now, go tell your family you love them.

Brotherly Love - Cameron and Gavin together on the couch

Do you ever find yourself disciplining your kids for something you should be disciplined for?

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About Laura O'Rourke

Laura is a Mom of three who lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Currently on maternity leave, she blogs about life at home with her husband Dan and three sons Cameron (age 5), Gavin (age 3), and Logan (not yet 1). When she has time, she can be found reading, writing, snapping photos, or awkwardly running. Laura has been recognized as one of Canada's Top 10 Mom Bloggers by multiple publications, including Reader's Digest. Keep up with the fun by following @LauraORourke on Twitter or liking Mommy Miracles on Facebook. Like what you see? Have something to add? Be sure to leave a comment!


  1. Years ago I was heavily into “scrapbooking.” I recall a crazy moment when I was trying to craft a lovely page… absolutely, insanely, losing it on my son for continuously interrupting me as I was trying to “make a double page spread of happy memories for him.”

    The “family first” lesson is an important one… we push it in our house as well and believe it or not, they will look out for one another because of it… mine do.

    Now… cut yourself some slack… you’ve a toddler and baby and must be exhausted! Nothing wrong with teaching the kids to be patient with mommy as well… put a blanket on you if you’re resting… be a wee bit quiet while mommy re-energizes. Maybe when they get a little older, they can even pour you a cup of tea! Family first after all!!!

    • I think that exact same thing happens in my house, although for me it is blogging our happy family memories instead of actually making memories with my family.

      And you’re right, rest is important. I do try to make that a good family lesson too! :)
      Laura recently posted..Family FirstMy Profile

  2. As my children started to grow older, the one thing I always tried to instill in them, was Family First! I had always told them, that if the chips were down, you could always rely on family.

  3. Wow, so guilty of this!!! I’m not good at taking my much needed time outs and I start throwing chairs on people too. Ok, maybe not to that extent…but you get it. Thank you for this reminder!!!
    kk @ the mom diggity recently posted..something i MUST shareMy Profile

    • Oh. So many chairs thrown by me! I needed MANY time outs today. I think I even made the toddler cry at least once. Maybe I should go read my Family First post again. Needless to say, you’re not the only one who needs a reminder!
      Laura recently posted..Family FirstMy Profile

  4. Are you in my head this morning? Because I’m absolutely guilty of this. 110%. I make a conscious effort every single day to ensure that Noah gets in his “mama” time and that we play and spend time together. But, there are days when he wants his time at a DIFFERENT time than I’m ready and willing to offer and I do the same thing. “Just one more minute while I answer an email…Give mommy just one more second.” What powerful lessons these kids teach us.
    Courtney Kirkland recently posted..29 Week BumpdateMy Profile

    • We struggle with this constantly. Especially today. This morning I didn’t have time (had a deadline I needed to write something for) and then in the afternoon I had time, but I wanted to clean. My poor boy was asking me over and over to play with him. I tried to throw and catch the balls in between taking things out of the dishwasher, but I still think I was a disappointment to him.
      Laura recently posted..Family FirstMy Profile

  5. Oh my goodness yes. I can’t think of examples but I see so much of my old self in them. All except for the throwing toys thing (she types as a book is thrown across the room. sigh. )

    • Isn’t it funny how despite having the perspective of a parent, we can still empathise with our sweet little children? I think that is such a perfect example of how God is with us. He understands our feelings, but knows the bigger picture. We don’t always understand why He does what He does, but we can always knows that He still understands how we are feeling.
      Laura recently posted..Family FirstMy Profile

  6. Wow that post just hit me where it hurts! So true…so true…I need to take a lesson from this!
    Natalie recently posted..A Little Girl TimeMy Profile

  7. I’m always amazed at how often I have a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” Ouch.
    Rach (DonutsMama) recently posted..My Month of No (Frivolous) SpendingMy Profile

    • No kidding. And Hubby and I play a game of “Where did he hear that?” when we hear Cam saying certain phrases. Like “I’m busy right now!”. Yeah. Apparently he hears that from me often. Double Ouch.
      Laura recently posted..Family FirstMy Profile

  8. Seriously Laura, we are like writing twins, because I have a similar sort of post I’ve been writing in my head for a few days now.

    Yes, family first. Always.

  9. Family first is what it all comes down to isn’t it. I guess that is two words to sort of sum up the idea of my post for today.
    Twisted Cinderella recently posted..Rambling Thoughts from an Overtired MommyMy Profile

  10. I have been so guilty of this. I had a real wake up call recently ad have since lived more in the moment, making sure my family knows they come first. And it feels amazing!
    Kimberly recently posted..Essence Of NowMy Profile

    • Good for you! It takes an awesome Mama to make that switch. It is so easy to just get caught up in merely surviving parenting that we miss going the extra mile to put our family first. I think this is a decision I have to make every new day.
      Laura recently posted..Did You Win, Mama?My Profile

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