The first thing I notice when I walk into the house are the girls’ backpacks tossed on the floor. Snacks on the counter and a clock which tells me it’s later than I thought.

As I step into the kitchen to begin to making dinner, I am greeted by my girls with a big hug, and what’s for dinner?

What’s the matter, asks nine. Nothing I tell her, I am just a little tired. (The reality is I’m exhausted. Not from anything in particular. Just the normal family/work/mom/everything stuff.)

It’s the third full week of school, and we are still in somewhat of a transition. The weather has been extremely warm, teasing us into thinking summer is still here, so why on earth would we put away bathing suits and flip flops? It’s halfway through September, and we still have pool bags and towels hanging in the mudroom, a family calendar which is only partly filled in, schedules which are not posted but sitting in a pile, and no dinner schedule for the week.

Some may call it end-of-summer or back-to-school blues, others may refer to it as transition time. I call it CHAOS.

We are in in-between mode and I have been running the house like it’s summer – carefree and without a weekly dinner schedule. What may sound ridiculous silly to some, has actually helped me tremendously since going back to work full-time. Weekly meal planning has become one of my most important organizing tricks. It’s a wonderful thing to see our meals posted each Sunday night and to know what I am making each night. No one asks me and they know what to expect. I love doing all of our weekly grocery shopping on one day, as well. It takes away some of the stress of work/family balance and helps me feel more in control.

But lately this in-between mode, has affected my organized self. I am pretty much making it up as I go along. For someone who doesn’t like schedules, or need them, this is totally normal. But for someone like me who likes to have everything planned out, and a typical Sunday night – September through June – is spent surrounded by cookbooks, Pinterest (and a small full glass of wine) looking for new and interesting dinners that my family will eat, this self serves “time out” is absolutely ridiculous. Sure I have the wine in front of me, but I haven’t touched a cookbook or looked at a recipe since the last day of school.

I really have abandoned the planning ship. Just this week I made pasta. TWICE. And it’s only Wednesday. See what happens? Utter chaos.

Stopping at the store on my way home from work, leaves me feeling even more rushed and unsettled when I walk in, so I ask tell the girls to take a break from homework, and help me cook dinner. Although they do tend to help on the weekends, and set the table during the week, cooking and making dinner during the week has typically been me, myself and I. (Okay I will give a shout out to my hubby for taking over some nights.)

Amazingly twelve is okay putting down her book for a few minutes, and begins to make the rice. Nine reaches for the napkins so she can set the table, and asks what she can make.

As I run upstairs to quickly change from work clothes to my usual yoga pants something more comfy, I yell down for her to make a salad. A few minutes later and I see she has taken a cheese spreader and is trying to cut cantaloupe cubes into even smaller pieces for a fruit salad. (When I said make a salad, this is what she chose. Sure. Why not?)

As I watch her cut the fruit, I noticed how happy she is. She has plugged her I-Pod into to the speakers and begins to dance around the kitchen. I take her hand and give her a swirl. Twelve is stirring the taco meat (we decided to revive Taco Tuesday) and begins to smile.

This is fun mom. Why don’t we do this every night? she asks, without even a hint of eye rolling.

Every night, I think… hmmm… probably not happening. I mean you know the meal planning is going to kick in this weekend. (Really, how did I let it go this long?) And how often do we have time to make dinner together during the week, let along dance and sing in the kitchen?

But I come up with an idea (which tricky smart mama, I let them think they came up with it on their own…) what if they prepare dinner once a week? They can choose the meal and make everything. They can look through the thousands hundreds of cookbooks we have or make something they already know. I will be there to help. They can not wait to tell their father about their fabulous idea.

I love what is happening in my kitchen. I’m not exhausted anymore. Yes, I am, who am I kidding. But not right now. No rushing to be anywhere tonight. Me and the girls dancing in the kitchen. Like we used to when they were babies. Nine even makes a restaurant menu so she can wait on us, and dims the lights to make it a romantic setting for when Dad comes home.

Sometimes even moms need a break. An unscheduled night. We can’t do it all. We just can’t. And that’s when I say it’s time to call in for reinforcements. (And yoga pants.) So beginning next week our new dinner schedule will include a night in which I will be sitting. And watching. And helping. (Okay and maybe a little dancing…)

 unnamed (1)