Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Bye Week

Two weeks ago we traveled to Chicago for Thanksgiving.

The kids took the travel in stride and then held up pretty well for a week at my brother's non-toddler-centric home. We had a really fantastic visit, but on the whole the entire undertaking proved to be kind of monumentally exhausting.

Then, as I mentioned last week, we came home and flew headlong into a weekend of Christmas craziness. 

We put up the tree, hauled out the advent calendar, hung lights, and generally (to quote my sister-in-law) decked the ever-loving crap out of the halls.

By Monday morning I was ready for a vacation.

Unfortunately a vacation was not on the agenda. And so instead I woke up at 5:15am with my still-on-Chicago-time offspring. I got my "out of the habit of going to Kindergarten" Kindergartener off to school in a flurry of teary protestations and then started mentally preparing to take the 3- and 1-year-olds to the grocery store to restock and begin prepping meals for the week.

As I wearily attempted to load my overtired kiddos into the minivan I heard a voice speak to me as if from the heavens. This celestial voice intoned with great authority,

"You know what? Screw this!"

I paused. I reflected. And do you know what I did for the next three days?

I heeded that voice.

Accepting the fact that I had reached a point of near-total burnout I just decided to dial everything back. Like a professional football player, I found myself craving a much needed break from the full-contact sport that is motherhood.

So, I opted to give myself a bye week.

  • Instead of doing fun-filled outings to the park and the zoo I left the kids in their PJs for the whole day and allowed them to wreak havoc in the playroom without making a single effort to tidy in their wake.
  • I punted on mealtimes and served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and microwaved Mac-n-Cheese for dinner.
  • I allowed the kids to watch the movie "Planes" on repeat to the point where they could recite the entire film line by line.
  • I gave my five-year-old the iPad at nap time and passed out on the floor next to my little ones for an hour each afternoon.
  • When my husband got home from work at night I greeted him with a tired kiss and some Chinese leftovers before heading to bed at 8pm.
  • I ignored homework projects and instead let my five-year-old draw in his Mickey Mouse coloring book to his heart's content.
  • I put the kids in the bathtub at 5:30 at night and let them splash each other until the water got cold.
  • I did too far much Facebook browsing and far too little interacting with my offspring in a meaningful way.

For almost 60 hours of our collective lives I indulged in some genuinely lackluster parenting, and you know what? 

Everyone survived.

By Thursday I had caught up on some much-needed rest and started to feel a little bit more human. I was ready to re-tackle the playroom, which had fallen into a state of epic disrepair. I dove into the gigantic laundry pile that had been festering in the corner. I bought groceries and began preparing decent meals again. I even managed a genuinely joyful Santa outing will all three kids in tow.

It felt good to be back.

But I'm still glad for those few personal days I took to get back on my feet. I needed them.

Because falling down on the job sometimes doesn't make you a bad person or a terrible parent -- it just makes you a Mom taking a much needed bye week.


  1. I strongly believe that these weeks are good for us and them. Sometimes, we just need more time in our PJs.

  2. I was waiting for you to get to the part where you parented in a lackluster fashion. This whole post is a real let down.

  3. AMEN SISTER!!! We all need those weeks and you know what, the kids actually really enjoy them too. Sometimes we have those weekends in the winter where we never really get out of our PJs...we just change them periodically! It makes everyone feel more human when we actually emerge from the house. Outtings are more enjoyable and we as parents feel like we can take on the world again :) Good for you!!!!!