I have always wondered how single parents do it all. Parenting is already so hard to do as a couple… how is it possible to do it as a singlet? This past year, because of my husband’s job, I was able to experience single parenthood twice for about 2 weeks at a time.
My mom raised 3 kids on her own. She’s always been superwoman to me. Two weeks is nothing compared to what she and other single parents had/have to go through. Like it’s not even a question. But two weeks for me, was a lifetime! Yes, I still worked and the kids were at daycare for most of the day but the times I had them were also the most hectic times of the day and don’t even get me started on the weekends! How?!?! Just how?!
Anyway, I thought I should write about it a little and who knows, maybe it’ll help someone out there or at least give them a laugh or two.
The first time A left for about 2 weeks was last year. E was 3 years old and baby bro was 11 months old. A’s parents lived in New York. My mom was taking care of both my grandparents at the time and lived about an hour away from me (45 minutes if I drive ;-)). I had little help from family because they were either too far away, or our schedules just didn’t match up.
The second time A left for about 2.5 weeks, was this past June/July. E is now a 4 year old who thinks she’s the mommy of baby bro. Baby Bro is now 22 months with full blown temper tantrums. However, A’s parents has since moved 5 minutes away from us so that was extremely helpful.
In both instances, the reason I did not go crazy was because friends and neighbors helped me tremendously! Last year, friends came to bring us dinner and/or play with the kids so I can make dinner. This year, friends came to hang out with us and helped me take the kids out of the house to prevent cabin fever.
How My Weekdays Typically Went
For things to run smoothly, I would get up a bit earlier to get ready for work. E and baby bro share the same room which helped a lot. E would distract baby bro until I came in to get them ready for the day.
Our morning routines were always chaotic because 2 against 1 is no joke. Last year, baby bro crawled all over the place, so I would just place him in his crib while getting E ready. He would whine, but I was ok with that because I’d rather have whining than accidents.
This year, E demanded that she will get herself ready but then cry because she can’t reach the dress she wanted from the closet. She of course would wait while I was changing baby bro’s diaper and then wail that she can’t get her dress. Like, you can’t see I’m changing the diaper of someone who wants to go commando at all times?
After wrestling them into their outfits of the day, we would go to the bathroom and brush their teeth and do E’s hair. Last year was ok because I would still leave baby bro in the crib. This year, I couldn’t do that because the man does not like to be in that crib except for sleeping. Tantrums galore!
So instead, I would give him a toy in the bathroom while I brushed E’s teeth and fix her hair. Then I would brush his teeth while E talks to me about how when she’s older she will do her own hair and makeup and how she will not ask for help at all. Ok.
Then we go downstairs to eat breakfast which is usually cereal or yogurt with granola. Ain’t nobody have time for anything else. Sorry not sorry. While they eat breakfast, I pack their lunches for the day put everything in the car before I finally pack them up as well and take them to daycare before I go to work.
Last year, they went to two different daycares. This year, daycare = A’s parents’ apartment (and no need to pack lunches other than whole milk for baby bro). Woot woot!
After work, I would go home and drop off all my work stuff before I picked up the kids so I had less things to carry. Last year, I would heat up their dinners so by the time I picked them up from daycare, it wouldn’t be too hot for them to eat. This year, we ate at A’s parents house. Sooooo helpful!!
After dinner, I would then play with them a little because when else could I play with them during the weekdays?! Then the bedtime routine would be brushing their teeths, giving them baths, putting on their jammies, reading them a couple of books, singing bedtime songs, some cuddle time and then finally put them to bed.
It’s just as chaotic as the morning routines, but I was able to basically give them baths together which saved time and crying from either kids. And they slept in the same room so I didn’t have to do two bedtime routines.
After the kids are in bed, I was able to tidy up the house a little, wash any dishes if needed and prepare for the next day. I would try to workout if I had any energy left or do something relaxing for myself before getting ready for bed and going to sleep.
How My Weekends Went
I had to get them out of the house. It was no question. If I kept them inside the house, they would go crazy and I would go crazy because the house simply isn’t big enough to get all their energy out. And believe me… they. have. tons. of. energy. I can’t even.
So after their morning routine, I would pack up snacks and the diaper bag and take them to the park or the mall’s play area or anywhere they can run around and get tired.
We’d come home for lunch and play a little before baby bro’s nap time, and E’s quiet time. She would either color, or play with her toys quietly. I find that she liked quiet time because baby bro isn’t all up in her grill. She’s pretty good with occupying her self while I cook, do laundry, or rest a little. (PSA: Crockpots and pressure cookers are life savers.)
After baby bro wakes up, I would let them run amok in the house or we would go outside and go for a walk. If friends come over, it’s even better because we would get to do things that are more fun. For example, this year, we went to the pool! Whatever I could do to tire them out, I did.
After that, it’s our regular nightly routine.
What I Learned
Single parenthood is no joke. Props to all the single parents out there. Mind you, in each of the 2 weeks that A was gone, I didn’t do bills, nor any major housework. So how do others make time for that without help?
Planning is key. And back up plans are a must. However, flexibility within your plans are life savers. You just never know with kids. Usually, baby bro naps for 2 hours. But if he doesn’t, I’d have to be ok with not doing the laundry right away and putting it off after their bedtime. Or if after you’ve dressed both of them in the morning, and brushed their teeth, baby bro decides to grab cup of water from E and pour it on himself – it’s ok. Just had to change him again real quick and move on because in this case, you choose your battles.
Lots of patience. Patience does not come easy to me. But I learned that deep breathing really helps with patience. Yes, you’ve told E not to build her magnetic blocks into an elaborate house while baby bro is awake. Yes, baby bro ran to her structure and pummeled it. Yes, E screamed and cried and threw a fit. Yes, baby bro came running to me because he was scared and started crying. Two crying babies are not the funnest. But deep breaths help so you don’t go cray on them and so you can comfort them accordingly.
If you can get them out of the house, do it. I was very nervous because both of them are very mobile so I always had a fear that one of them will go running off somewhere and get kidnapped! But luckily baby bro and E like to stick together for now so that worked in my advantage.
Accepting friends’ help is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your sanity. This year, since baby bro and E go to A’s parents while I worked, I did not want them to have to take care of the kids over the weekend. Enter friends.
I have wonderful, lovely, caring friends who were more than happy to spend time with me and the kids and I will forever be grateful for them.
Though I tried to express to them my gratitude, I don’t think I can say in words how touched I was when they gave up their Saturdays or Sundays to hang out with me and the kids. <3!
I learned that I am stronger than I think when I put my mind to it. I am always nervous when I hear that it’s that time of the year when A would have to go out of town for a bit. It’s not like I have much for a choice right? I’ve got two little ones who depend on me for their survival. So I had to just woman up and be that parent. So with lots and lots of prayers and lots of self-pep talks, I really do feel like I grew as a parent each time I had to the whole single parenthood thing.
Lastly, I learned to appreciate A more. Single parenting is hard AF. I don’t know how my mom did it. I don’t know how any single parents do it. All I know is that when A is here, things are much much much easier for me.
So cheers to parents, especially single parents out there. Keep it up! You guys are amazing!!
Thanks for reading! Have a great day!
(all gifs are from giphy.com)