Monday, November 16, 2009

Tips for Surviving Single Parenthood (as told by a married mother)

Having been thrust into the role of single parenting for the last four years (thanks to my husband's current work situation), I have become a quasi-expert on how to not lose your mind survive those endless days while your spouse is away.

1. Stay Busy.

I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Single parenting is NOT an easy job (my hats off to those who do this full time). For me, keeping my children occuppied has been KEY to my sanity, especially when my husband embarks on a three week trip to South Africa/Mexico. So when they ask you to schedule a's a good thing. When they want to go to a movie, go to the park, go shopping, play's all a good thing. A busy child is usually a happy child (at least for my children). And a happy child (aka one that is not bored, whiney, bickering, etc) makes for a happier mom.

2. Don't be afraid to let things slide a little.

While my instinct is to keep things nice, neat and orderly, it's not always easy/necessary to keep a perfect house while living as a single parent. I've learned to let go of the guilt if endless dishes pile up in the sink, if the floors get dirty, laundry piles up, etc. It doesn't make my children any happier if I'm spending all my time doing housework.

3.  Try to schedule a little "me" time

When I say schedule, I mean just that. You have to PLAN time for won't happen on its own valition. Whether, it's escaping to the gym during your lunch hour, enjoying an hour of shopping alone while your children are at a playdate, or having dinner with friends, taking time for yourself is essential. It provides a much needed respite from single parenting responsibilities and gives a much needed energy boost.

4. Don't feel sorry for yourself.

Granted this is an easy trap to fall into (in fact, I've caught myself going down that road tonight after a particularly challenging night referreeing/arguing/trying not to blow my top dealing with my children.) But it's essential to keep things in perspective. Your husband is not gone forever and he is available to help you long-distance (unless there is a 7 or 9 hour time difference which throws a horrendous wrench in your communications.)

For me, self pity usually starts to creep in after two weeks of full-time single parenting (about where I'm at right now in my husband's business trip). The children are mising their dad, I'm missing my husband and every little thing starts to grate on everyone's nerves. The kids are at each other's throats and I just want "Calgon to take me away."

That's when I have to nip self pity in the is hard to recover from and makes my time as a single parent seem much longer, more aggrivating and much more difficult to endure. Plus, I have to remember that homecomings are all the sweeter after longer rounds of single parenting...just sayin'.


Jodee Leader said...

It sounds like you are doing a great job solo! Hang in there!

Loukia said...

You're a great mother, you know? It must be so very hard... I find it hard if my husband goes out for a few hours and I'm home alone with the kids! (Mind you, they are still fairly young, but still) This is a great post on tips for surviving solo!

Melissa said...

All very true. My single parent week starts Monday and includes Thanksgiving, as usual. It's gotten easier as the kids have aged, but it's still not the highlight of my month. And I can't imagine weeks on end like that. You have a great perspective. Bravo!

Heather said...

(((hugs))) Is he home yet? If not we need to get together. Well, we need to anyways.

Krystyn said...

Those are some good rules.

I get hung up on the "don't feel sorry for yourself!" And, that's just a day of Mr. Serious working late.

Thanks for reminding me that there are mothers that have it a lot harder than me.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

JennKate said...

Great reminder for many of us married moms who play single moms often! Actually, i find it sometimes easier without the BIG KID around. =) It's more work, but it all gets done MY WAY! Though, I'd never tell him that!

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