Feeling grumpy? Maybe you need a timeout.

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

I felt grumpy earlier this week and couldn’t figure out why. It could have been any number of things, or maybe just a combination of a bunch of little things. Who knows. 

I may have taken my grumpiness out on my husband, Steve, while we were making dinner. Ok, I definitely took my grumpiness out on him. He patiently tolerated slash ignored it. 

After we’d finished eating, we decided to take the dog for a long walk. We cherished our long walks together. It was our time to connect at the end of the workday. I have, on more than one occasion, spoiled these walks by forgetting to leave my grumpiness at home. Inevitably, my bad mood would spread to Steve, spoil our walk, and sour the evening. It was dumb. 

After ruining one too many walks, I learned to take a timeout if I was feeling grumpy. This meant I either skipped the walk altogether, letting Steve and the dog have some quality one-on-one time, or, I took some time for myself to get out of my funk before going for our after-dinner stroll. 

For some reason, I had failed to give myself a timeout on this particular day. Just one block into the walk, my mood remained foul and I snapped something snarky at Steve. He turned to me and said, “Nelly, do you want to skip the walk today?” 

This was Steve’s gentle way of suggesting I give myself a timeout. I knew I was misbehaving but I couldn’t help it. What I should have said was, “You’re right – maybe I’ll sit this one out,” and gone home. 

But instead I said: “NO! I want to be in a bad mood around you!” 

It made us both laugh for a nano-second, but then I proceeded to ruin our walk by sulking the whole time. I know. It was dumb and selfish.

LESSON (you already know this but…)

Don’t do what I did this week. Instead, give yourself a timeout.

It’s Not You. It’s Me. 

Don’t forget to explain the timeout to your partner. Let them know they did nothing wrong – that you just need a few minutes to shake off your bad mood (which has nothing to do with them).

What To Do During Your Timeout

Do something that will make you happy or make you forget you were in a bad mood at all. Pick something fun or luxurious. Here is a list of things I do during my timeouts: 

  • Watch cooking and baking tutorials on YouTube
  • Watch reruns of my fave sitcoms (Seinfeld and The Mindy Project are in the current rotation)
  • Read a book or listen to a podcast 
  • Do the dishes while listening to Top 40 music very loudly
  • Use a hydrating face mask (thank you Costco for a cheap 12-pack!) 
  • Paint my nails 
  • Make myself an ice cream cone (I recommend Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream on a sugar cone)

Pick something you’ll enjoy and savour it! 

Do Not Disturb

Oh, and be sure to put your work phone on “do not disturb” mode during your timeout. It’s only 15-30 minutes. Unless you’re in the middle of some crazy transaction with urgent emails flying around all over the place requiring your immediate response, your work peeps will survive without you for a few minutes. You’re not THAT important. 


Once you’re recovered from your grumpiness, consider apologizing to your partner after your timeout. Saying something like “I’m sorry for taking my grumpiness out on you” will go a long way.


If you’re self-aware enough to realize you’re feeling grumpy and misbehaving, then give yourself a timeout. Don’t poop on your partner’s parade by ruining their good mood. 

You know the drill…

If you’ve found this useful, please consider sending it to a friend.

Your grumpiness story or example could help someone else avoid a fight with their partner, so please share them in the comments below.

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Until next time, 



  1. Yet another great article, Nelly!! Really enjoyed it a lot, and agree with everything you said. Keep writing!!


  2. Nelly – I love reading your blog! I particularly enjoy that when I’m reading it I hear the words in your voice 🙂


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