Many parents know the sinking feeling that occurs when your spouse comes home at the end of the day to announce that they are taking a trip for work in a few weeks, leaving you home to watch the kids, make dinners, walk the dog, do the dishes, and, of course, do your own job. Following are some tips for coping when you’re parenting solo, suggested by parents we know whose partners work out of town routinely, and who have learned how to get by with minimal help!
- Keep up your family’s daily routine. Even though the dynamics are slightly off at home while your partner is away, don’t allow your family’s routines to slide. Kids depend on routine, and they’ll feel more secure if they know that their daily structure remains the same even when one parent is away.
- Assert your parental authority. As every parent knows, sometimes, when it comes to discipline, even two parents can be too many cooks in the kitchen. If there is a particular behavior that you’ve been wanting to help your child work through, now might be a good time to tackle it. And of course, with one parent away, many kids will try to test out their parent’s authority. Don’t give in when you would normally assert boundaries and limits.
- Seek out some additional help. Calling in the reinforcements is key when your spouse is out of town. If you have grandparents or other family nearby who can come over for dinner or do daycare pickup, ask them now. If not, think about inviting a neighbor with kids over for a playdate to help pass the time. And if you’re really feeling crunched, hiring a babysitter to help out with dinner and bedtime isn’t a bad idea!
- Streamline mealtime. A few days before your spouse leaves town, consider making meals ahead of time and freezing them, so that you’ll have meals on hand, ready to feed your kids at dinnertime. The crockpot can also be a great way to serve a hot dinner with minimal fuss. And ordering pizza or taking the kids out to a quick fast food meal definitely takes the stress off at dinnertime.
- Remember to get out of the house. It can be easy to remain cooped up inside when you’re overloaded with laundry, dishes, and house-cleaning, but you and the kids are likely to go stir-crazy if you don’t get out of the house for an ice cream run, a Target excursion, or even some playground time or a round of miniature golf.
If your partner travels frequently for work, and you’ve come up with some strategies for getting through the days and nights when you’re parenting on your own, let us know in the comments section!