Family dynamics have changed in my home, and here’s how we’re managing spurts of solo parenting.
There’s something I haven’t talked to you about. But my husband and I have. A lot. Like every day.
I’m not a single mom, but I’m a work from home mom, with one son. My husband is a Manager in broadcasting in Toronto and for the past couple years his job has been, to put it simply, extremely busy.
This is the busiest our lives have been in our 17-year relationship. He is away from the home for work for 12-hour days, sometimes more, and often he’s working on weekends.
Lately he’s been traveling, leaving us to work for a week at a time in a different city.
Our relationship was always a partnership in our home. He had things he did, and I had things I did, all with one goal: keep the home running. It was easier when we were home together at the same time, but now a lot of jobs fall on me.
The biggest job of all: parenting.
I’m not saying I’m in the same category as single moms, because I know the challenges, they face are ten times harder, but I know there are some parents who are carrying the load for their families while their partners are working and commuting.
I know Tobin would love to be home with us around the clock, but it’s not the reality right now. To be honest, he’s carrying a heavy load of being the bigger financial provider.
While I’m still navigating this area of our relationship since we’ve only been dealing with the new schedule and workload for the last couple of years, here are some things I do to make it through, and hopefully they can help you.
Family and Friends
If you’re lucky like I am to have family close by, use them! My family loves spending time with Cooper, so they always offer to hang out with him when I have to work. My neighbours and friends are also Godsends who will take him home with them after school so I can wrap up something up or go to an event.
Forever grateful to them!!
Let Dad be Fun Dad
We made a deal a long time ago that when Tobin gets home from work, he has to be the fun Dad, not the disciplinarian. He will never give Cooper trouble over the phone, and when he’s home, he’s ready to have a good time with our kid. True, most of the discipline comes from me, but I’m around more. We deal with an issue, and it’s done.
I’ve never said, wait ‘til your father gets home. I don’t want Cooper to fear him. I want him to be excited to see his dad.
I encourage Cooper to have friends over or to see friends as often as possible. As a boy (and only child), he can’t hang out with his mom all the time. It’s also nice for me to see how he acts with boys his age.
And, with the right kids, you can manage to fit in a bit of work while they’re playing! WIN!
Get Outside Help
I swallowed my pride one day and ordered my groceries for delivery. I paid an extra $20, but the convenience was worth every penny. I ordered the groceries on the app while I was making Cooper’s lunch and they were delivered a few hours later.
I also order cleaning supplies and laundry detergent, basically anything I need, on Amazon because between work and parenting, it’s often hard to get to the store.
I also bought a robot vacuum which has brought my stress level down a bit.
Be Strict About Bedtime
This goes for you and your kids.
You need rest, but it’s also to give yourself an hour just for you! You need to decompress.
I am so super strict about this. It means I get to watch something I want to. Or Facetime my cousin, anything! Just make sure the kids are in bed at a good time every single night.
This sounds weird but bear with me. Working full time and parenting full time means you’re operating at a level that is basically in the superhero category. If you’re sluggish you won’t survive. Make sure you’re focusing on your health. Trust me on this.
Workouts will give you energy, and the foods that you eat are your fuel. You need these!
Find a Hobby
Do something for you. You HAVE to. I recently joined an indoor soccer league, plus I always do my workouts. No one makes me feel badly for having something that’s just for me.
Be Patient and Talk
I’m still working on this. I take it personally when I know I shouldn’t, and I make Tobin feel bad about his job when I know it’s wrong. His job is amazing, and it challenges him, plus, it supports us financially so I can chase my own dream of growing this business while being available to my son.
If he could do his job from home, he would jump at the chance so he could see us more. I know he misses us. Making him feel bad for it isn’t going to make the situation better. It only makes everyone feel worse.
I’m truly grateful for this career opportunity he has, and for what it has given us as a family. I need to tell him that more. I’m sure it’s just as hard on him as it is on me.
The point I’m trying to make here, don’t make the job the big evil thing. Be grateful and graceful.
Don’t Sweat the Dates
Anniversaries and birthdays must be celebrated when Tobin’s available. That’s the key. Don’t get down about it, just go with the flow for the greater good.
Spend Time Together When He’s Home
We really do spend a lot of time together when we’re home at the same time. He also takes Cooper and does stuff that only the two of them like to do, which gives me a few hours to do something just for me.
When he’s home, we do dinner, or we will talk over a glass of wine while Cooper is in bed.
The key is, sneak in those few minutes together, even if it’s watching a show he wants to watch on Netflix.
Please, please, book vacation time. We book two weeks religiously where we can go somewhere and turn the phones off. We live for that time.
Now we are looking ahead and booking mini vacations together. He’s taking us along on a work trip too so that we can spend time together.
I’m lucky that I can take my work wherever, so I’m going to take advantage of that.
I know so many of you who are in the same situation, only your partners are away for days or weeks on end. Some of you have very young children too. I hope some of this helps you navigate this strange family dynamic, while remaining happy and healthy.
And all of you single moms who do this around the clock, I truly salute you!