You are on your own with the kids. Perhaps your partner works long hours, travels a lot, deployed, or maybe you are rocking it as a single parent. Whatever the reason, you know that when you have kids, your time ceases to be your own. But you crave that time, you need it. Here’s how to thrive when you are solo parenting.
There are some evenings I watch the clock, just waiting for my husband to walk through the door.
It’s been one of those days. My son screams at my daughter when she asks him not to hit her. My daughter breaks down in tears when I ask her to practice piano. It’s non-stop emotion and noise. I’m about ready to tear my out.
How can we thrive during these moments of solo parenting? When our resolve leaves us and we want to lock ourselves in the bathroom for some peace? When we are counting down the minutes until date night?
I reached out to some of my friends who are moms and rock at this solo parenting game. Here are their best tips.
Know that you Got This
When Andrea’s husband was deployed in the National Guard, the only thought that helped her through was knowing she had to do this alone. She didn’t have a choice.
She says, “For me it wasn’t about tips and tricks when DH was working long hours or out of town it was more of this, ” I’m on my own and I HAVE to do it on my own and so I WILL do it” There are lots of moms that do it 24/7 that don’t have the option of relief and they just do it, so I can’t make excuses and lament the absence of a partner…I just need to put on my big girl panties and do what needs to be done, on my own. It’s a mindset of, I CAN DO THIS. “
Simply changing your mindset can have a dramatic impact on what you can do. Stuff that you once thought impossible you will somehow muster the will to do.
Mindset is an amazing tool.
Use Your Solo Parenting Time as an Opportunity
We all have those places we like to go and food we love to eat that our partner isn’t fond of. So, we compromise – as any good relationship does – and go someplace that we each like.
If it were up to me, we would visit frozen yogurt every night. For my hubby, he always likes a place with a good beer.
Take this time that your partner is away to go to those places… a lot!
For instance, Janice uses the time to “watch movies [her husband] wouldn’t like, eat cereal for dinner and go window shopping.” She says, “That way [solo parenting] feels more like a splurge than an absence.”
Two Words: Early Bedtime
Many moms agree that when we are parenting solo, we desperately crave our alone time. Traditional wisdom tells us to work when the kids sleep, but a big NO to that.
Use the sleep time as time for yourself. You need this break to recharge.
Jen, a mom of 2, says, “While my husband was on deployment the first half of this year I had the kids to bed between 7-8pm and then I saved those last couple of hours of the day as my me time. No chores etc. Just time for my personal interests/hobbies. Mine was reading. I did watch some tv but I found myself so over stimulated by my kids during the day the quiet was nice.”
Use the quiet time for yourself and you’ll find that you are much better equipped to handle the next day.
Special Treats for the Kids
I’m not talking sweets – although you know I am a huge fan of dessert! The treats I refer to are special privileges.
Maybe one night, you let your daughter sleep in your bed. Or perhaps you both treat yourself to pedicures.
Lindsay, mom to a 4-year-old little girl says, “My daughter and I have “sleep overs” where she sleeps on the little chaise lounge in our master bedroom – she feels like a big girl and I get to skip bedtime tantrums.”
She also lets her daughter pick a place for dinner one night. Not only did it make her daughter feel responsible, but her daughter usually eats when she’s allowed to pick the place.
On the go all day… the last thing you want to think about is dinner!
That’s why it’s handy to make dinner as simple as possible. We use Freezer Meals in my house. I simply dump the plastic bag in a crock pot and dinner is done.
Heather, mom of 2 from North Carolina, says “Use an instant pot for dinner! Or eat out [which is] not really an option for us due to severe food allergies.”
By utilizing these tricks from moms who’ve been there, changing your mindset and focusing on the positive opportunities, solo-parenting becomes more doable. Here’s to rockin’ it Mama!