My partner, like lots of us I know, works two jobs. He has a day job and also moonlights as a musician at night and on the weekends. This means he’s not home as much as I’d like. My bestie’s husband goes away for business trips, sometimes for weeks at a time. Another friend’s partner is in the navy and spends months at sea.
The three of us are often left carrying the load at home and while this is nothing compared to what single parents have to do daily, we’ve all developed some tricks to help us during this ‘you’re on ya own, mum‘ times. Here’s what they are.
1. Lower your standards
When my partner is MIA, I allow myself to cut corners. Dinners are often nothing special – eggs on toast will do. I don’t bother to iron (we rock the crinkly look!) and the state of the house is ‘lived in’ rather than ‘I’m on top of it all’.
If the kids happen to have too much screen time, then I don’t beat myself up about it. I’m in survival mode and if my mental health needs Peppa Pig while I get something done, then so be it.
2. Prioritise the stuff that matters
While I allow myself to drop the ball on some things, I know there’s others I need to stay on top of like a boss lady. The dishwasher is one. I always empty it first thing so we’re not living out of it all day and I’m forever asking myself if it’s clean or dirty?
As well as these nifty laundry hacks, I do have a sneaky trick which keeps me from losing my marbles when searching for my kids’ clothes. Take their washing off the line last so it’s on top of the pile and then I only put it away, leaving the rest for another day. That saves me from rummaging through the pile every time my tot needs new clothes.
3. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Preparation is the the key to rolling solo. I’m not a natural planner so I try to cook in advance where possible. If the next day is a daycare/work-for-me day, I fold sheets, ensure there’s changes of clothes ready to go and make my lunch (all while watching some trashy TV). I also shop online these days which gives me the chance to plan meals in advance.
4. Staying in touch
If I’m not going to see my partner for a couple of days, then we message each other, a lot, and make more of an effort to chat in general. I need us to feel connected and the same goes with my boys.
My mate whose partner goes away on business swears by the Uniden Smart Baby Monitor, a clever little gizmo with two cameras you can place around the house. Its app feature lets you view the video from anywhere, which means dad or mum can watch bub playing or sleeping (as we do), even from the other side of the world. It also has a very fun walkie talkie function which her kids love.
5. Organise play dates as much for you as for the kids
The hardest part when I’m on my own is the lack of adult conversation. As much as I love chatting to my four year old about cicadas and squishing playdough with my toddler, I crave grown-up company.
For this reason, I tee up playdates with friends that are as much about getting our cute kids together for a playground play as they are about two mums chugging down takeaway coffee and debriefing on our latest Netflix obsession.
6. Go easy on yourself
One thing I’ve learnt is that I can’t and shouldn’t try to do it all. Parenting is hard at the best of times but when you’re the only one getting up to the kids every night, and still trying to function during the day, you can only do the best you can, which is actually good enough. You are more wonderful than you give yourself credit for, which leads me to my final and most important point.
7. Take care of you
To be the best mum you can be when you’re on your own, you need to nurture you. Yes, I know how laughable that sounds when you’re literally sacrificing every part of yourself for your littlies.
But here’s the thing: there’s a reason why in emergencies we’re told to put on our life jackets before the kids. We’re no good to them if we are out of action. So go to bed as early as you can. Accept all the offers of help from family and friends. Eat well. Stay healthy and do whatever you need to do to relax. Don’t forget YOU while you are taking care of everyone and everything else!
(This is a sponsored post for Uniden)