My husband was gone all weekend. This is a relatively rare occurrence, but still never my favorite one. Especially since I am still out of my kitchen, meaning life involves a lot more trips up and down the stairs and stuff being hard to find. Cooking is difficult, and yet I didn’t really want to try bringing all four kids out to eat. I’m sure those readers who solo parent all the time are just laughing at me, and I will freely admit that you are way more awesome than I am.
That said, we did all right. I had only a few instances of counting minutes. A few observations:
When I run the 3-year-old around all day, and skip the nap, he goes to bed easy. In fact, he’s been getting measurably better on the sleep front, which is most welcome after three years of torment. I now give him a flashlight (which he sometimes declines) and a book and I leave the door open, and he will generally stay in and fall asleep. He’s been down by 8-ish and sleeping until 6:30/7. This is doable, as I can often be in bed at 10:30, sleep until 5:30, and do some stuff (including shower) before he wakes up. I know during the week he often catches a nap because he’s in the car in the afternoons, but when the nap is not an option, night time sleep is much better. Sleep does not beget sleep in my household.
I can read a lot in 1.5 hours. I generally let the big kids do what they want from 8-9. I put my daughter down at 9, and then the boys are down at 10, but each bedtime doesn’t take that long. I have been using the rest of the time to read. I made it through about 200 pages of Ulysses this weekend! Granted, it was mostly the “Circe” section, which is written as a play with stage directions, so it goes fast, but still. (I also read a short book I agreed to blurb).
WaWa makes great hoagies. I have hit upon an easy dinner solution of getting sandwiches for me and the 8-year-old there, and then feeding the other children pasta. (The 8-year-old wants things like mustard and pickles on his sandwiches — totally different taste buds than the other children, who want bland pasta with parmesan cheese or butter). I’m a big fan of the 6-inch roast beef with provolone, little bit of mayo, lettuce and tomato.
The 10-year-old is grown up in some ways and not in others. I gave him free rein at his brother’s Little League practice to wander around the park. I also sent him alone back through church when we were in the parking lot so he could retrieve an item. Both times I knew he could be trusted. However, the fact that I was sending him back for an item at church was…frustrating. He forgot his coat in the church kitchen where he was doing a service project, which would be fine, except he also forgot his coat at karate the day before. So we wound up driving an extra 35-minutes round trip to go back to get it. We bought this coat in March because he lost his other winter coat then and we still have not found it. I am sure he will lose this one too, but hopefully by that point it will be warm enough that we won’t need it.
(The fact that we still need winter coats on April 7-8 is a whole different story. Playing outside in the back yard on Saturday afternoon was not nearly as much fun as it might have been because I was COLD and so I had to keep stomping around to warm myself up. I was counting minutes in this case, but because of the weather, not the kids. I’m not sure why they’re not as affected by it as I am).
Fish are very sensitive. My husband mostly cares for the saltwater tank, but it is supposed to be the 10-year-old’s job. Apparently in my husband’s absence he wasn’t adding water because I came down early this morning to run and the tank was making horrible noises and blowing the current really fast. At least one fish appears to have died in this equivalent of a typhoon. Sigh.
The kids are pretty well-behaved, all things considered. Since it was just me for much of the weekend, I brought all four kids to everything. They sat through their sister’s karate lesson (I took them to Barnes and Noble during the 10-year-old’s lesson, since it’s longer). They played on the playground during Little League practice with few complaints. I took the three big kids to my choir practice before church and I almost forgot they were there (they were sitting behind me, all reading books quietly — Dungeons and Dragons, Greek Mythology, and an American Girls book on manners.).
A few hours of babysitting helps a lot. I had a sitter come for a few hours on Sunday afternoon, and I used the time to do a long run by the river (8.4 miles!) I am feeling relatively ready for the Broad Street 10-miler in a few weeks.
So…not bad. I still managed to get “my” stuff in (a run, reading, and singing in choir) alongside a lot of time with the kids. I am definitely ready to get my kitchen back, though.
10 thoughts on “Tackling the weekend, solo”
Babysitters are the key for me. Having a sitter come for 3 hours so I can run my weekend errands in peace makes all the difference when I am solo parenting. I usually offer to pay my 17 year old to keep the younger one but if she is too busy I will pay a neighbor kid to come over. I will also pay a sitter so that I can nap… if I am exhausted there’s no way I can be a fun mom for the rest of the weekend. I totally agree on keeping my kids busy to help with sleep. I try to do one physical activity (a walk, playground trip, swim etc) per weekend day with her and one mental activity (library trip to read books, a puzzle, etc) per weekend day and I find it does help wear her out. Of course there’s lots of other activity going on but if I make the effort to do a minimum of these things with her, it seems like the bedtime issues are better.
@Natasha – yes, the errands are tough with everyone. Our cupboards felt a little bare by the end of the weekend but running to the grocery store with all of them felt like it would require so much effort that I made myself be inspired by what was in the fridge/pantry.
A&C both ditched nap right at 3 and slept 9000 times better. Agree with sleep not begetting sleep in that transitional toddler/preschooler set!
@SHU- exactly. When he naps he stays up late and he’s up early. Which is the same thing that happens to me!
I completely feel you on the sleep front! My oldest has never been a great sleeper. And it’s a nightmare at bedtime if she does happen to catch a nap! Glad things are turning around for you on the sleep front.
I am terrible about planning childcare during solo parenting time. Mostly because that time can be unpredictable. My husband is on call one week per month. Sometimes he works 80 hours of overtime, sometimes its 0 hours. I am cheap, so I have a hard time paying for a sitter when there’s a decent chance that I won’t end up needing one. But I end up kicking myself for not getting a sitter when I’m alone with both kids for 3 days straight with no help. Maybe that should be a Q2 goal haha.
I know someone who works an on-call shift while the other parent is at work, and they use an on-call arrangement with a babysitter — pay some fee to have the sitter on-call, and more (of course if they actually the sitter’s services. Would something like that be an option? Of course, over time it might not prove to be a money saver, depending on how much you actually use it.
@Amy – you could budget for the sitter and then do something as a couple if he winds up not working. Or each go do your own thing (even errands – often more pleasant when child-free). Or use the sitter to spend one on one time with the kids. There are reasons to prioritize an extra set of hands even if both parents are theoretically available.
There’s something different (for me) about solo parenting on the weekends. We don’t have a regular Saturday morning activity, so I end up just “running out the clock” until bedtime…starting at 8:00 a.m. My husband gets stir crazy so he will command all the kids into the car and just start driving.
And I am totally with you re: my 9 year old. She is a mother’s helper with a neighbor’s child across the street, but when she gets paid for said job she (often) comes home and sets the money down in the yard to go play. Shockingly, the money often disappears. Like, a $20 bill. So ready for responsibility and trust in some ways, so not in others.
I have been working in the hospital every other weekend for the last 2months leaving my husband to solo parent a toddler and baby. After one weekend when he picked a fight Sunday night, I decided he would not go a weekend without a babysitter at least one day. He tried to protest this, but I insisted. Money well spent! I am going to take the kids for several hours myself this coming weekend to help me empathize!
@Virginia- yep, the picking-the-fight symptom – you are good to recognize this. And smart to go ahead and book the sitter if he has trouble doing it for himself!