Parenting is exhausting enough as it is. Now tack on coming home from a 12-hour overnight shift as an operating room charge nurse and seeing your wife struggling to get your four kids out the door to go grocery shopping. Words can't even begin to describe that level of exhaustion, but it was the situation one dad found himself in just over a year ago. And instead of letting his partner suffer, he came up with a genius idea that allowed her to get some much-needed alone time and him to get a much-needed nap.
"It was snowy out and I was trying to convince the kids to cooperate and get dressed so we could run down the road for some groceries," Michael Weber's wife Monica told TODAY Parents. "My husband saw I was not being successful and was a tad stressed, so he insisted the kids stay with him while I grabbed some groceries and a bit of alone time." When she came home 20 minutes later, Michael was asleep on the couch and their kids were all focused on pads of paper.
"When I got back I called my son to help with the groceries and he begged me to be really quiet as I came in because they were doing 'realism art,'" Monica explains.
"When I walked in, they were all sitting quietly drawing my husband asleep on the couch. When I asked what they were doing they said, 'Dad promised a chocolate bar to the person who has the most complete drawing and said if we were loud and woke him up before everyone was done then he would move and we would have to start all over so please be quiet so he doesn't wake up.'"
Monica snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook. Now, her husband's brilliant nap hack has understandably gone viral.
"I'm pretty sure he's the most brilliant man I've ever known," she captioned the post. "He has them doing 'realism art' while he 'poses' AKA naps. The winner gets a chocolate, but let's be honest; he is the one winning.
Before you go thinking he devised this clever trick out of laziness or reluctance to play, Monica explained to Motherly that Michael had just finished an overnight shift at work. But since it was cold and snowy outside, and the kids were being rambunctious, he thought they'd be too much for his wife to handle at the grocery store.
"We recently moved from New Jersey, where all our friends and family were, so we have had to think of ingenious ways to balance it all," she told us. "When I arrived back and called my oldest to come help with groceries he informed me that I had to be really quiet because they were doing 'realism art' and if dad moved it would ruin their hard work."
The rules of the contest were that the most complete drawing would get the chocolate prize, thus keeping them glued to the spot for the 20 or so minutes of Monica's trip to the store. The four Weber kids were old enough to realize what their dad was doing (and old enough to rouse him from his light snooze if they needed to) but since they all enjoy art anyway, they played along.
"[Michael] spent the first eight years of our kiddos' lives in the military, and since he was always coming or going, I got stuck being the rule maker and him the fun one," Monica said. "He never really outgrew that role."
Michael's favorite parenting technique is to make contests of things, as he did this time.
"I wouldn't say we have any ingenious hacks, we're just regular parents with four fun and adventurous kids trying to do our best," Monica said when we asked if they had any other brilliant ideas to share. "There are plenty of days the house is a mess and everyone is out of sorts, which is why I thought it was important to celebrate these little parenting victories."
Whether you work at a hospital, from home, or you're a stay-at-home mom, remember that it's perfectly natural to feel burned out and need a break. And if you're able to think of a creative way to catch some zzz's then we applaud you!