I start to feel anxious whenever my husband is going out of town. But I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of doing this parenting thing while he’s away. To all you single parents, military spouses, parents whose partners travel often, etc., I have so much respect for you! Here are a few ways I make it work:
Food prep is key.
I spent a day before my husband went out of town the last time making and wrapping sandwiches and prepping fruit and veggies for quick meals and snacks for the kids and me. I was so grateful to be able to just grab meals and not have to worry about groceries.
Stack outfits (remember socks).
I’m forever about five loads of laundry behind and I know I’m not alone. This time I pulled out shorts, underwear, shirts and socks for both kids. I stacked outfits for the kids for every day that Zach would be out of town. And every morning, I thanked myself for the saved time. Why didn’t this ever occur to me before? Next time he goes out of town, I’m going to stack outfits for myself ahead of time too.
Restock that first aid.
The first time Zach was out of town for more than a week, our son and I both got a virus. My husband was across the country, and Miles and I were home feeling horrible. Thankfully, my mom was able to come help us. Then she caught the virus too. It was rough. Now I know to check our stock of medicine (for the kids and for myself), Pedialyte, cartoon bandages, Popsicles, etc. Our first aid kit is good for peace of mind, if nothing else.
Keep an activity stash.
I always have small activities such as new paint sets of coloring books on hand for days when Zach is out of town or has to work late. These are handy distractions on days when we don’t leave the house. I’m a huge proponent of happy distractions and positive reinforcement. I keep a bag of emergency rewards (a.k.a. bribes) hidden away as well. Don’t forget to treat yourself too! Now is the time to try some fun new face masks. Don’t forget the wine, chocolate, coffee, nail polish or whatever your favorite treat happens to be.
Don’t skimp on sleep.
Go to bed early as often as you can. Now is the time to get those 8+ hours a night. I get that it isn’t always possible. But you will feel a million times better if you can sleep enough. When our daughter was a couple months old and our son was 2-years-old, my husband went of town for work for nine days. Those days and nights were long. I’m still not sure how I got any sleep.
Plan some play dates.
Call on your mom friends and plan a few play dates. You’ll get some much-needed adult conversation and your kids will have fun playing off their energy.
Keep picture diaries.
My kids have such fun with dad. We all really miss him when he’s out of town. FaceTime is great. It’s primarily just the kids and him making faces at each other and laughing. My kids aren’t really interested in having conversations on the phone yet. Picture diaries are a fun way for kids to feel connected to mom or dad while they’re away. Just let the kids pick out their favorite memory of the day and draw a picture. Then bind them all together and give mom or dad their “book” as a welcome home gift.