Elisa here with a confession: These past two summers have been difficult summers for me as I had a taste of solo parenting! My husband, who is an Educational Assistant in the school board, was out of town these last two summers for Teacher’s College. As any family can appreciate, I knew that it was going to be a very good opportunity for him and our family’s future, but I came to realize how much I really depended on this parenting partnership of ours! If you have a spouse that works long days or is away for work a lot, you may already have this stuff figured out, but this was a big change for me! It was not going to be easy for me to run my business, look after my children, the house and the long list of other things a parent has to deal with- and I had to deal with it all as a solo parent!
I was determined to get through it though and to have a great summer with my children, who I knew would be missing their “papa”. Obviously, in the end we all survived. 🙂 I truly have a deepened appreciation for the single parents out there who have no choice but to do this parenting thing solo. Kudos to you because darn it you have got to be strong, resilient and organized to say the least!
Since I did survive in one piece, I thought I would share some tips on how I managed parenting solo:
Ask for help!
Admittedly, I am a person who cannot stand asking for help from others. I’ve always been a very independent person but I knew that while I was alone for such a long period I would need to ask my family members for help. Even if it meant just hanging out with us for a little sanity time!
I also scheduled childcare for two days per week to allow myself time for my business, and every once in a while I would ask a family member to watch them for me so that I could get out by myself even just for an hour.
Of course, I am lucky to have family nearby. If you don’t have family nearby or friends you can count on, find a babysitter you can trust, even if it is a young ‘mother’s helper’ who can come hang out with your kids and supervise so you can get things done around the house.
Organization Is A Must!
For those of you who know me, you know that I am not the most organized person in the world for many things. Organization has always been a work in progress for me! I knew that when I was going to be solo parenting, organization would HAVE to be present in my life.
If I was going to get through this with my sanity in tact, I would need to actually plan my days ahead of time which meant:
- Planning what we were doing that day
- Scheduling work time
- Actually scheduling in self care=’me time’
- Planning meals ahead of time was a lifesaver! (Even planning on a restaurant day for an exciting change in our routine.) Having a few extra meals ready to go in the freezer would have been awesome too!
Without being organized, I would have felt a lot more overwhelmed for sure!
Make time for self care
It really is easy as parents to put the household’s needs above our own. It’s what we do right? Self care is something that I knew was so important but it wasn’t until I was in the middle of chaos that it really hit me. I NEEDED to make time for myself. At least some time. I also found out that if I didn’t actually schedule that time for myself, it would never happen. I was always fighting my inner self with the “So much stuff needs to get done, I can’t relax” demons and I really had to force myself to shut down. It did not need to be a long time, but it did need to be done on a regular basis.
This is where if you have hobbies or passions you love to do, you love getting out for a walk or working out, or just love binging on Netflix- take the time to do it! Your inner self will thank you.
My most important tip- get enough sleep!
Sleep!! I know what you must be thinking. I am a sleep consultant so of course I believe in my product which is well…sleep! The reality is as parents, sometimes the only time we can get anything accomplished is after the kids go to sleep. If your kids go to bed really late, that can often translate to you staying up late to get things done too. Sleep really is the most important piece of how I got through the intensely busy summer, not just keeping the kids on their bedtime schedules but getting the sleep I needed too!
I really counted on my evenings to work and decompress. The fact that I knew that my kids were going to go to bed for the night at 6:30/7:00 meant I had all evening to work, tidy up and relax and still be in bed myself at a decent time. I would not have gotten anything done if they did not go to sleep easily and sleep through until morning. Not to mention, how would I have functioned from day to day without the sleep that my own body needed?
This solo parenting experience really meant I needed to stay in our routine. I can tell you that I had never been so on top of making sure my children got to bed on time! They needed it too though as a way to recuperate from the day and to help them cope emotionally with the change of not having their dad around. They were happy and much easier to look after when they were well rested, than they would have been if they were not getting the sleep they needed.
There you have it! My biggest tips for surviving the summer as a solo parent with my children. I am grateful and happy to say that my husband is now back home and we are back to dual parenting! Now, to work a date night into our schedule! Do you have any tips you would add to this list?