Luke's business travel seems to come in waves. He can go on months without traveling, but when it rains, it pours. He was away just about two weeks ago and is again this week. Solo-parenting used to be so daunting when the kids were younger, but now that they are almost-5 and 3, it's manageable, and really, not too bad.
Here are some things I, a full-time WOHM, do to make solo-parenting days run smoothly for our family:
Leave work early. Luke normally does the afternoon pick-ups, so when he's away, it falls on me. I will say the most stressful part of the day is having to pick up kids at two different locations. It takes an extra 30 minutes for me to get home! So what I do is leave work 5-10 minutes earlier (if possible)...not only I miss traffic, but we get home when there is still daylight out, which oddly makes all the difference to me.
Prep food in advance. Since on solo-parenting days I am already coming home later than usual, the last thing I want to do is still having to cook. Having food ready to eat in the fridge is so important to my sanity. I like to get a huge party-size tray of noodles (stir-fry noodles, rice noodles, chow foon) from a local Chinese restaurant -- only $15! -- and that becomes the kids' staple for several days. Then I just supplement it with protein and vegetable. I cook protein in advance, but cook vegetables on the day of.
Use bribes. To help the kids move along, I have no problem using bribes. The phrase, "I will give you a Skittle," goes a long way. Those Skittles really motivate my children like nothing else!
"You can play Kindle". My kids are nuts about tablets, are yours? This is similar to the Skittles, but I've learned that if there is a reward (for example, 15 minutes of Kindle before bed), then they are much more willing to do what I ask of them, and doing it quick. It saves me from repeating myself over and over and keeps my patience level in check.
Keep it to bare minimum. The goal is to just get by -- you won't find me grocery shopping, house cleaning, or doing anything above and beyond on my solo-parenting days. We play catch-up once Luke gets home.
Make it a dinner & movie night. This doesn't happen during the week, but it does occur when I solo-parent on the weekend. KIDS LOVE THIS.
And lastly, earlier bedtime. Because the quicker they are in bed, the earlier I can get in front of the TV and veg out.
Do you have any tips for keeping everything under control when your partner is away? Would you rather be the one traveling? I don't. As much as solo-parenting tires me out, I'd much rather be home with my kids than somewhere in a hotel room.