Recently a friend asked me how I manage the kids & house when Chalres is out of town [or when he's working such long hours it's like he's out of town]. I sent her these eight "tips". So, if you or someone you know has to swing the "single parent thing" every once in awhile [or every week]...hope this helps.
I'm so thankful that Charles normally has "normal" hours, unless it's the end of a project [like now] and in which case I have to step it up a bit [and put my big girl panties on] to do my part to help us finish well. Dayton Daily News' new studio went live this last weekend so it's just tying up loose ends this week and we'll be headed home this upcoming weekend for Christmas and...for good.
We have loved you Dayton, but after 5 months, we're headed...home.
|At a local church's kids Christmas party [invited by our friend Grace]|
My 8 Tips
 Ground Rules
Understand that you are both "working". Meaning, he's working at a job, and you're watching the kids, which makes it possible for him to be able to work such long hours. So it's important you see yourself as working 12 hours just like him and it's important he values [and tells you] he appreciates all your hard work too.
Thankfully, most of us have the ability to call, txt, facebook, email, skype, or facetime using our phones or computer. During the day and or night you might want to make a habit of calling him [with the kids] & [without the kids] at the same time everyday.
 Reward System
For you & the kids. Make a chart for the kids to look forward to earning some fun over the weekend alone time with dad! Plan something for yourself too: going out with friends, walk by yourself or...anything! This way everyone is working hard, but come the weekend, you get-a-break! If your husband isn't home at the end of the week see if you can't get someone to keep your kids for a few hours so you can have a break.
 Keep It Real, But Positive
I've learned that if I only complain about the kids and how hard my life is when Charles calls that it's not good for our marriage. Yes, the kids might have given me a hard time that day, but when I get on the phone I try to focus on telling him what cute things they did or ask him about his day. Encourage him, flirt with him, you know...make calling me something he enjoys verses something he dreads. At the same time, you're going to have hard days and you need to ask for his advice, vent, tell him about their behavior, etc. Sandwich those complaints in between some nice things. Also, he needs to understand it's important to listen---after all you're the mom and the dad right now so you need to have someone to vent to.
I think the hardest part of "single parenting" is adult-time burnouts. If you stay inside all day with little people who you can barely hold a conversation with...you might develop major cabin fever. I suggest getting out, even if it's to drive thru Chickfila for a lemonade and go back home. I think it really helped me [and is still helping me right now] to schedule weekly meet-ups with other moms or friends [my house, theirs or places] so that I have a adult conversation to look forward to while also doing my job---watching the kids.
 Give Yourself A Break
You're changing the light bulbs, doing the discipline, cooking the meals, bathing, changing, checking the mail, paying the bills, keeping the kids safe, playing with them, listening to all their talking-crying-screaming, etc. So when they go to bed don't over do it by getting everything "done". Take a mommy time out and do your nails, watch a silly show, read a book or do anything to unwind.
You have to be rested because you have to have the patience of two people.
Don't do one if you don't want to, but I find it really helps me and the kids. For example, we get up at 8am, nap at 1pm and go to bed by 8pm. We have our meals at 8am,12pm,3pm,6pm so that the kids and I both know what to expect. It's nice because if it's "one of those days" you can watch the clock and know there-is-an-end-in-sight. If the kids are staying up too much and not on a good schedule your alone time will be minimal and you really need it to be able to make it several days without your husband's help.
As always, take all this with a grain of salt. Just my thoughts.