First off, to all the single moms and single dads out there, I bow to you. You don’t have a choice to parent alone, but you deserve a peace prize for doing it.
Every time I parent alone for the week, I am tired, and a little nutty by the end. And it is not the parenting part that drives me crazy, it is the lack of conversation and interaction with another person, an adult person.
This is my first round of solo parenting while having two kids AND being pregnant. Last time I solo parented, I technically was pregnant, but had no idea. Hahaha. That doesn’t count.
Since I have 45 minutes right now of continued silence before the evening chaos begins, I put together a survival guide for solo parenting.
Make simple dinners – The odd part when my spouse is out of town, there is less pressure to make more meaty, adult meals. Listen, I am content to eat cereal or oatmeal or bagels for dinner. For at least one meal in the week is one of those things (the kids think it is amazing). Another night we do quesadillas (cheese+beans+tortillas and avocados – done!). We will also eat rice, yogurt, and dal (lentil curry) as the classic Indian dahi bath dal. To be honest, there will be an anti-pasta night full of fruit, nuts, cheeses, meats, and bread and a repeat night.
Whatever it is, it has to be fast. As soon as we get home, the kids are hungry. So I make sure to have dinner within 15 minutes. And all these meals can be prepped in 15 min or less. With the exception of dal, that takes 25 minutes in the Instant Pot.
Rotate toys – Bring out the “new” old toys! The kids will have a blast they get something new to play with and you’ll kill 25 seconds. Just kidding, 25 minutes. Or am I?
Pray for good weather – Since I cannot control the weather, I’ll pray that the weather gods shine down sun and reasonably warm temperatures. This way, as soon as we get home, I can kick the kids out of the house to play in the backyard while dinner is made.
Plan an activity – If you have time, and ONLY if you have time, plan an activity. By plan an activity, I mean going to the park, or visiting the farmers market. Nothing fancy, just something to get out of the house.
Allow for a movie night – We do a movie night on Friday, especially when the weather is terrible. The kiddos are still little so a movie for them is some sort of BBC nature documentary. Toddlers love animals. BAM. Here is a whole movie on turtles. If they want to watch something, they see The Great British Baking Show (quality programming) or Grand Designs with me.
Keep a glass of wine handy – How I would love a glass of wine right now! And by glass, I mean teaspoon because my tolerance has gone down ever since having kids. If wine is not your thing, then pull out your teacup and favorite tea, and drink in peace. You only get to do this after bedtime.
Take a long bath – Not you. Sorry! Them. The small things. If your kids love baths, let them take the longest bath possible without them turning into raisins. You kill 30 minutes.
Lots of books and hugs – Snuggle all together and read books before bedtime. Read lots of books. Fall asleep together even. If you are like me, you’ll be asleep by 9PM too.
And come the day your spouse returns, plan a massage and retreat for yourself. You did it!