Firstly, disclaimer: I’m not claiming to be an expert on parenting, at all. In fact tonight I told my kids to F off, yep. Im THAT parent. But in all honesty they’ve broken me this week and while im sat reflecting over a glass (bottle) of wine, I think its probably because I need to take a bit of my own advice!
Greg works away due to being in the military, we are currently involuntarily separated which means that he has been forced to work away from where we currently live, or we have been forced to live where he currently works. Either way you look at it, its pretty crap! We’ve done it voluntarily before, but it just doesn't work for us as a family. Because, well, we all love each others company funnily enough! So when we got the news that Greg in fact would not be joining us in our new home, which is miles from family, surrounded by empty houses and is as rural as it gets, I was not impressed. The good thing is that he will be back weekends, so until December this year, I will be solo parenting from Monday to Friday every, damn, week.
So, one question I get regularly is, how do you cope?
Somedays, I don’t even know how I get through the day. I get to the point where I could either cry, scream, or get in the car and drive off leaving the kids to fend for themselves. Most of the time its either of the first two. But the other times I am very stringent, very organised and I’ll say it, I parent the shit out of life.
Organisation is key!
Plan everything! Your days out, your meals, your outfits, your toilet breaks...you get my drift. Write it down and go with that plan. I find when I plan our outfits I will get them out the night before, iron them if needed, and lay them somewhere they cant be thrown on the floor by irritating miniature humans, it saves 20 minutes in the morning, which will mess up our routine and push back the time we can get out of the door. It may seem like just 20 minutes but that could be an entire journey somewhere and it all adds up! Getting up 30 minutes before the kids for a shower is also a great way to wake you up and really feel ready to take on the day. Doing your makeup with scratchy fingers grabbing at your ankles just isn’t ideal, so I always try to do it before they even think about opening their eyes in the mornings! Planning meals is also fabulous for my urge to be in total control of my schedule. Its great to plan meals you can slow cook, so prepping a meal in the evening is less of a strain and you’re not constantly back and forth keeping an eye on the kids making sure they’re not sticking fingers in plug sockets or picking up chickens by their tail feathers (don’t ask).
Planning your days out not only gives you that structure for the week but also gives you something to look forward to each day and as stressful as it is taking all of the kids out for the day, it’s also so liberating doing it by yourself. Just because your partner isn't with you doesn't mean that the littles cant make memories with mummy!
As well as a week full of plans, I like to plan some down time, whether that be a morning, afternoon or a full day is up to you. I like to do a lot of stuff in the mornings so we can get home for the babies main nap, that way I get a little break or some alone time with the girls. But most weeks I will plan to stay in for a whole day, slow things down and don’t put pressure on myself to be somewhere. I’ll get in some munchies and just watch films all day, or prep the garden for a day of lazing and slow living! Soak it all in because you will need a bit of down time too, and so will the kids!
Find your tribe!
You know what I bloody hate that word, but I’ve drunk two glasses of wine and my brain is slightly fried so I cant think of another word. A friendship group is needed. Being surrounded by your offspring and talking to them as mummy all day is draining. I love them but theres only so much sympathy I can give for a tiny pin prick injury to the little finger. Get your mates round, let the kids play and have some adult conversation. Its also a good idea to choose your friends well, you want the ones you know will support you no matter what and vice versa, and if they piss you off you need to tell them, or at least feel like you can! In this type of situation where we move regularly and are forced into new friendship groups it can be really difficult to find the ‘right’ ones. But they always find their way to you, so be patient. (can really tell I’ve had two glasses now…)
Don't be afraid to have a drink. Responsibly of course!
While we are on the subject of wine…a drink in the evening can really help you relax. I don’t drink every night, I don’t even drink every week, but if I feel particularly stressed I will treat myself to a bottle, sometimes I’ll drink it all over a few hours, but I wouldn't get smashed while I was in charge of all the kids alone. Calling out an ambulance because your kid has a fever and you are too pissed to drive to the shop and grab some calpol is apparently a waste of NHS money…so yeah, don’t do that. Be responsible but don’t feel guilty for that wind down tipple!
Make time for yourself!
Last but not least, a snippet of time for myself in the evenings is always worked into my schedule. Whether its for a bath in silence, a paint of my rancid toe nails, or binging on a box set. Whatever works for you then go for it. Being on duty 24 hours a day with no help is hard work, and to work harder we need to look after ourselves too. Self care is actually less selfish than you may think!
I really hope anyone in the same or similar situation than me can take some of these tips and make their days solo parenting a little easier, and if you have anything to add, please let us know!