When our first child was about to be born, my husband was 700 miles away at a mandatory company tradeshow. He flew back on his refundable ticket and was able to spend a glorious 36 hours with me. The morning after our baby girl came into this world, he was back on an 8am flight, not able to return home to us until 7 days later. Were we happy about it? Definitely not, but we both knew that in this age of demanding careers, he had to do what he had to do (or at least what his boss thought he had to do).
In today’s society, jobs and careers consume a large part of our lives. Whether your spouse has to fly from East Coast to West Coast each week, or just works 12-14 hour days, there are many moms who manage this all the time. So, what’s a girl to do?
Ideally, it might be nice to stomp around; throw a mini-tantrum and cry, demanding our husbands work more flexible hours yet still provide everything our family needs. And, then there’s the reality check. While single parenting isn’t easy, we’ve got some single parenting help for married moms that can make the days – or weeks – go much smoother for everyone.
Get your ducks in a row: When you know your husband is going to be traveling or unavailable due to his job, plan ahead to make your life as easy as possible. While he’s around and available, run the errands you need. Make sure groceries are bought, you have conquered Target and that you have what you need for the week, whether it’s diapers, food, children’s Motrin or anything else. There’s nothing worse than trying to go in and out of stores, carting baby seats, toddlers or both in your wake. Don’t be afraid to enlist Hubby in a bit of domestic bliss, helping you get the house in order, laundry completed and groceries bought – after all, when he’s gone, you’re both Mom and Dad; there’s nothing wrong with him donning multiple hats while he’s at home!
So, whether it’s housecleaning, meal planning, or Costco runs, get it done while there’s more of you around and you’ll feel better when you’re on your own.
Call for reinforcements: You don’t always have the luxury of family nearby, babysitting budgets, or neighbors who can help out. But when you do, use them! The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child – and when it comes to single parenting, it couldn’t be more true. So, whether it’s Grandma who wants to come over and see her “little darlings,” a neighbor who wants to help you out by hosting a playdate, or the next door neighbor girl who doesn’t mind being a Mother’s Helper – take advantage of them all!
Julie the Cruise Director: While some moms like to keep things simple when parenting on their own, others like to fill their days and keep everyone busy – it all depends on what works for your family. If that’s you, then play Julie the Cruise Director and book your week with outings to the park, neighborhood playdates, zoo trips, bouncy houses and more. Another option – create some special traditions like Movie Night, Ice Cream Afternoon or a Pizza Picnic. This helps minimize the “missing you” feelings that you and your kids might experience while your husband’s away and can be a really fun way to pass the time. And when you’re everything from laundress to cook, homework-checker to disciplinarian, it’s good to work in a little Fun Mommy as well.
Circle the wagons: When your spouse travels and you’re both Mom and Dad, it’s OK to take a day or two, circle the wagons and hunker down at home. Try to manage your schedule so that you’re not trying to be Superwoman every day – managing carpool, playdates, Room Mom, Mystery Reader and everything else under the sun. Some days, it’s just fine to take it easy, do some coloring, read some board books, and yes, maybe even watch a little extra Sesame Street or Curious George. This is also a good time to bring out “The Special.” No, I’m not talking about The Lego Movie, but as a well-experienced married, single parent, I always like to have some trick up my sleeve – whether it’s a new toy, a game, DVD, or even a fun snack, you want to have something to help you through when nothing else will. And, there’s no better time than when you and the kids are being homebodies.
Gimme a Break: Yes, many people do the single parenting thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy and it doesn’t mean it’s always fun. So, give yourself a break. You don’t have to keep an immaculate house, have your laundry washed and folded, spend “quality time” with your kids, make gluten-free cupcakes and still be up to date for Book Club. It’s OK to let a few things go when it’s just you at home, handling the children – after all, they will take all you have and even some that you don’t. So, whether you’re a single parent once in a while or every week of the year, go easy on yourself. Chances are, you’re doing the best you can, and that’s the most you can do.
Attitude is Everything: I learned, early on in my parenting, that I needed an attitude adjustment when it came to my husband’s travel schedule. I would start out on Monday, tense and wound as tightly as a clock, dreading the week ahead with just me and the kids. With each passing day (and each day closer to his homecoming), I was happier, more light-hearted and a better mom. I was dooming myself by approaching each week with teeth clenched. Once I changed my attitude, my weeks improved immensely. So, rather than walking around in doom and gloom, having a pity party and singing sad songs, look forward to the time you get with your kids. Be happy that you get to hear their stories, experience their hugs, feel their kisses firsthand. And, try to go easy on your husband – as hard as it is to do what you do each day, it’s equally as tough to hear about all the snuggles and cuddles, first steps and “I wuv yous” over the phone.
So, for the days when you do it all and for the times when you have your partner, we salute you!
Here’s to an awesome week,
~ Your Baby Pibu™ team