Preparing To Go Solo(Parenting)

I’ve been a mom for almost 5 years and my husband has been traveling for work several times a year, a week at a time.  When Reece was an infant I would be so freaked out.  The few days leading up to my husband’s work trips would be fraught with stress.  Fast forward 4 years and being the occasional Work Widow hardly phases me anymore.  Oddly, weeks when my husband is away seem easier than when he’s not traveling.

So what changed?  How did I learn to deal?  A few things happened.

It Takes A Village

Before I felt comfortable going solo for a week I would recruit help.  There was a high school student who lived across the street from us who would come once or twice to help out at dinner time (the home stretch).  I would also ask/beg/pester my brothers to come by for company.  There’s no shame in asking for help.  We are willing to help our friends and family but afraid to ask them.  Just ask!  Be shameless!

Poppy sleep over - Getting help from family while soloparenting

Have a Plan

Meal prep is the first step.  The Sunday before a trip is the perfect time to do this.  Crock pot meals that go in a bag and are frozen until the day of are great.  Pasta and soup meals are quick and easy meals when you’re burnt out at the end of the day and don’t want add more to the todo list.  Why make a big meal then having do wash several pots and pans?  I will also plan on one pizza night during the week.

Chicken, quinoa, brussel sprout crockpot dinner
My Italian Chicken crockpot meal – that only I ate, but whatever.

It’s more than just food planning though.  I like to know what we have going on for the week before it begins.  If there’s a day without classes or school, set up a play date or plan to go to the gym. If you’re going to stay home then think of a few small crafts or games to do.

Popsicle stick project while soloparenting

Stay Organized

When my husband is home we get ready for the day in the morning.  But, when he’s away, I get ready for the day, the day before.  Before going to bed dinner and the house is cleaned up, I make lunches for the next day, and set out the plates and cups for breakfast.  All our outfits are picked out so we don’t have waste time in the morning.  It helps to have as many todo’s checked off the list the night before so things are rushed in the morning.


I stopped freaking out.  I knew I would survive, even if it was stressful.  Once I stopped stressing, I realized things were actually easier when it was just me.  Only one adult making decisions, only one way of doing things.  The kids don’t get wound up seeing dad when he gets home from work so things go smoother, and faster, at bedtime.  You need to know that you can do this.

Let Things Go

If you’re stressed or overwhelmed and need a break, give one to yourself.  Amping up TV time for a week or two isn’t going to make you a bad mom or ruin your child.  Order pizza or reheat frozen meals.  When one parent is away for work things are going to function differently.  Don’t guilty for doing more of this or less of that.

Cutting corners - frozen pancakes when I soloparent

It’s not to say that I don’t want my husband around, but when I know no one else is going to do something (like dishes or get kids dressed) I’m not annoyed when I HAVE TO do it.  Being on survival mode can take it’s toll and it feels like a disconnect in our marriage when we don’t have face to face time.  Setting up a date night or special family outing when Dad comes back gives us a chance to reconnect and bond, plus a little light at the end of a long time apart.  Coming back with little gifts doesn’t hurt either.

Realities of SAHM – Why are we more tired on weekends with help?

The weekdays are a constant marathon of school to class to play dates and on and on.  Then the weekends arrive.  We run around from activity to errand to birthday party.  Weekend and weekdays start to blur into one long endless obligation.  But Dad is home on the weekends, so shouldn’t the load be cut in half?  Why are we still so tired?  Why do the weekends not give us the break we keep expecting?

A girlfriend recently left the working world to become a full time SAHM.  She had feelings of anxiety and was overwhelmed by them before her first week even started.  I encouraged her but didn’t gloss over SAHM challenges.  It’s tough and tiring but, of course, extremely rewarding.

It was a tough first week when she had one baby with croup while trying to get into a groove as a SAHM and acclimate her toddler to a new schedule.  Finally, the weekend arrived.  Her husband was with the kids.  On his watch the baby nibbled the toddlers poop while he was trying to change a diaper.  She texted me in frustration and exhaustion, “How is it that we’re more tired when we have help!!”

That was just her first week as a SAHM!  It’s true though, we are just as busy on the weekends as we are during the week days.  Shouldn’t it feel a little lighter if there are two parents home to divide and concur that to do list?  The weekends often times feel like more work.

Didn’t You Know?

After stewing about this a little…  One of the biggest problems I noticed in our house is that do to’s are not always verbalized.  It’s more along the lines of me thinking, “The bedding needs to be washed, my other half should wash the table and counters while I get on top of this,” or “That indoor playground sounds cool, maybe a play date with our friends together!”  When I’m rushing out the door to get to the play date on time my husband is clueless and wondering why I’m rushing everyone out the door to do our usual Sunday morning grocery shopping.  Or, I’m ticked off when I finish up the laundry and the kitchen is left for me to still have to clean.  Can’t you read my mind?!

Even though it’s the same amount of work, it almost feels like more because there’s an assumption that I won’t have to do some of the things on my list.  The (un-communicated) list will be split up.

No Rest for the Weary

The other big chuck of it is, it’s hard maintaining the same momentum of your busy life constantly.  More downtime is needed than what we give ourselves and our family.  Saturday morning arrives and you just want to check out.  Can I check out on the weekend when we are finally all together?  Isn’t this family time?  I really want to get caught up with cleaning, or maybe sleep.  Am I a bad mom and wife for not wanting to spend quality time together when we only have the weekend to do so?

My mom guilt gets the best of me and I end up either continuing on with the constant go go go, or I take the break I need but feel bad about doing so most of the time.

Break Up Break Time

The past couple weeks, we have been doing less on the weekends and splitting up more. Thursday nights my husband and I try to have a mini house meeting and review what we want to do over the weekend.  If shopping needs to be done, most of the time I will go off on my own while Dad and the kids go to the gym. We also say no to a lot more birthday parties. If we are going to a birthday party it has to be someone our kids are close with or one of my mom friends.  No more rando class mate parties, sorry not sorry.

Our mini house meetings help to keep everyone in the loop of what we will be doing on the weekends and also helped reduced an overstuffed schedule.  Doing less on the weekends has decreased the pressure to get to the next activity so we can enjoy the activities we are at while we are there.  I’m sure there are other steps we can take to lighten our weekend load.  Open to ideas, please let me know how you reduce the weekend overload!

My Non Typical Favorite Milestones

Everyone talks about when baby first walks, talks, sits up, or crawls.  Those are exciting and sweet, but there are milestones that really get parents, or at least me, super jazzed.  You won’t even know how awesome they are, until they happen.  While reaching a milestone means one more step away from the beginning years and firsts, these milestones make so many complicated things about parenthood easier.



It starts with big open mouth kisses then evolves into little pecks.  This is a milestone that melts my heart.  One of the sweetest parts of my week is when I get twenty kisses in a row from a toddler who’s feeling very lovey dovey when they are usually more prickly then affectionate.

Mwah! Baby kisses
Mwah! Whether you want this kiss or not!

Drawing recognizable pictures

That moment you get more than just a furious scribble of back and forth lines or circles and can recognize what the story is in a picture – Cool!!  I loved all the scribbles and dots and very brown paintings.  When I started getting rainbows, people, and tree pictures though, it brought refrigerator art to a whole other level.  We love art in our family, so watching the progression over the years is fun.

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Being able to dress themselves

This is one of those milestones where they are able to do something, but it’s unknown to you because you’re so used to just doing this for your kids, you forget that you should mayyybeee let them try to do it themselves.  Then they try, and it’s annoying, slow, and frustrating.  Before you know it they’ve gotten the hang of it.  Even though the actual getting dressed can be slower for a long time, it’s worth the struggle.  With two toddlers it’s nice to be freed up to and cut down in the amount of steps parents have to do to get out the door.


Using a bowl with the stomach flu

This was by far my most celebrated milestone.  When my husband and I did a Parents Night Out event through my mom’s group, three other couples raved about how exciting this was.  Nothing makes you so happy while feeling so lame at the same time.  In our defense, it was the beginning of Stomach Bug season so on a lot of our minds, haha/boo! This cuts down on a lot of cleaning or bedding/carseats/rugs/etc which can make the whole being sick even more stressful. Once you reach this milestone, you will be thinking, “I have arrived!”

Sick baby lying down on couch

Holding your hand/No longer running away in parking lots

I feel like I got my sanity back when Reece stopped fleeing out into the parking lot without a care in the world.  This might not be as big a deal if you have an only child, but if you have two close in age, you dread having to get out of the car in a parking lot or street.

Parking lot
The Danger Zone!!!! Photo by Parker Gibbs on Unsplash
Toddlers walking down the street
Reece making sure Kat doesn’t run off

These are just a few of my favorite milestones that aren’t highlighted of baby books.  What are your favorite milestones?

My Life With Migraines: Parenting Through Chronic Pain

After I had my second pregnancy I started getting headaches.  My doctor attributed them to postpartum and breastfeeding hormones.  We would revisit if we needed to after I weaned.  A few weeks before Kat turned one I got a sinus infection and migraine.  After ten days I went to the doctors office and they gave me an injection to break the cycle, along with antibiotics for my migraine.

The days that followed were the beginning of my chronic migraines.  I would go three months at a time with NO break from my migraine.  Each medication I tried would bring small improvements, but no “cure” and hardly a break.

Even good days, where there was less pain, or maybe a few hours without a migraine, were still so difficult.  I was all over the place emotionally: edgy; angry; sad; scared.  The migraines also left me confused at times.  If I ate ice cream, my husband would have to put it away or I would put it in the refrigerator instead of the freezer – every time.

Being a Mom in Chronic Pain

During all this, I was a stay at home mom doing a few hours of consulting work from home.  If you’ve ever had to take care of a child while you have a cold, it’s completely miserable.  Taking care of a one and three year old was beyond measure, worse than that when you have to do it on your fourth month straight headache.

Before migraines, I felt motherhood could be overwhelming and frustrating.  When you’re in pain it’s hard to not let emotions overtake you.  I had to work even harder to not lose it on my babies all day long.  I was constantly trying to keep myself in check and stay relaxed.  I felt like the worst mother ever.  Shouldn’t I be able to enjoy our fun activities together?  I shouldn’t be on the verge of losing my s— minute to minute, right?

Anyone who’s a mom knows the weight of mom guilt.  I had guilt about wanting to rest instead of spend time with my babies.  Guilt over asking them to play quietly or stop doing something they were enjoying to do quiet activity.  Guilt about weeks of increased TV time.

When you have a chronic illness it can feel hopeless at times.  I felt hopeless.  Many times.  Reece and Kat needed me though, and motherhood doesn’t give out sick days.  Every day the kids wake up early, my husband would let me sleep in a half hour more – lack of sleep is one of my biggest triggers – then I would drag myself out of bed and put on a big smile.

On weekends I would spend more time lying down to try to alleviate the headaches.  I’m a SAHM, so for the most part, I just had to continue on – business as usual – as I would if I had a headache or not.  A lot of things that used to bother me, still did, but I had to let go of a lot of things.  Being upset about the dinner fight, rushing my kids to do things like clean up or get out the door, and sibling squabbles were all things I had to let go of.  Some moments there are successes, other times, not so much and it ends in big blow outs over non-matters.  Days when I stayed as relaxed as possible might not make my pain go away, but it didn’t make it worse.

The Guilt We Carry

Circling back to guilt.  I even had guilt my migraines weren’t worse.  I have a friend who can’t leave the house without glaucoma sunglasses and a wide brim hat on, if she goes out at all.  My migraines aren’t as bad as others…  My neurologist said something to me, that really resonated.  It’s sort of an obvious truth, which held a lot of meaning to me.  She said: There’s no reason to feel guilt that my migraine isn’t worse than it is, my migraine is my own.  She let me know, it’s OK to be mad, sad, overwhelmed, by what I was going through.  It’s a crappy situation.  It could be worse, but it could be better.

After over a year I started seeing more improvements where I was having few hours without a migraine some days, or only a very slight headache.  There was still a long road ahead.  Currently, a year and a half later and doing Botox treatments, I’m starting to have more days without migraines than with.  When I do have bad days, I remind myself to take it easy on myself.  And it’s not the end of the world if I need to let the kids be TV-zombies.

I’m cautiously hopeful.

Pigtails: Bonding With My Daughter

Kat has always been a baldy baby.  I thought Reece was a bald baby, until Kat came into our lives.  By the time she turned one she had slight peach fuzz.  Her second birthday her hair started to fill out a little bit, but was only an inch at best.



Kat, about to turn 2, and starting to grow some hair. Woohoo!

When I noticed Kat’s hair was juuuuust long enough for a ponytail I had a mini celebration in my head.  I started to try to brush her hair more often, which meant Rich holding her down while I sprayed a liberal amount of detangler and brushed.  It wasn’t pleasant.  I had moments where I considered letting my daughter’s mangy hair go unchecked into the wild, curly, messy mop it naturally wants to be.  She can just wear a hat.  Every day until college.

I should have made more of an effort with clips and headbands from the start, but being a second child these good intentions often fall to the wayside.  Her animosity over hair brushing did not provide hope.  I didn’t let that discourage me.

I, somehow, had to get her on board, maybe even excited.  I got a sparkly cat headband with ears, a small array of hair elastics, and a cute wire headband since the wrap around headbands haven’t been well received in the past.

Kat’s hair turning point happened a little bit by accident.  I put a headband on her, and she ripped it off so Reece tried to put it on.  Of course then Kat really needed the headband and begged to put it on.  A mini fight ensued.  I found a compromise with Kat wearing the headband and Reece wearing a bow clip.  She wore her hair “done up” for the rest of the night instead of the usual twenty seconds.  A break through!



Since hair brushing was not a pleasant time, I tried to turn it into something fun and exciting.  I sit Kat on the bathroom sink so she can see her self and we brush her hair together.  Once that started going smoothly I added in putting her hair in a ponytail.

The first time I put her hair in a ponytail (and almost every time after) she is so proud.  Ear to ear smiles.  Then she leans over the sink and puts her nose right on the mirror, sometimes she kisses herself.  For all the times she drives me crazy, she has some of the sweetest moments.

Reece and Kat holding hands
The 1st day Kat wore her hair in a ponytail out of the house! Reece is so proud he held her hand the entire day.

Since then we have done ponytails, pigtails, and headbands.  Every time she is so proud.

I sometimes find it harder to connect with my second child.  It takes a lot more work to bond because big brother can take up a lot of the spot light.  We didn’t have the same focused solo time that Reece and I had his first two years.

When it’s time to do hair its a small way to have a mini bonding session every morning.  I make a big deal about putting a towel in the sink so her feet don’t get wet, I get the brushes and hair bands out, then ask Kat what she wants to do today.  She watches me as I brush her hair, sometimes moving her head a little too much in order to see.  It’s a peaceful moment of just us girls in the morning.  After a little bit of girl talk, and mother-daughter bonding over hair, and we rejoin the chaos of our morning.

What do you do to bond with your children?  Big ways or small I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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