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!

What To Consider If You Want To Become A SAHM

“Should I leave the workforce and be a stay at home parent?”  I believe, ultimately, you already know the answer to this question.  BUT, there are some things you may not have considered as part of the equation.  A lot of parents focus on finances when trying to decide whether one parent will be staying at home.  Then there are a lot of hidden considerations that can go overlooked.  While I can’t give you the answer, I can give a little insight to some factors to be considered if a parent should ditch the 9-5 to become a stay at home parent. It’s a big decision and should be heavily weighed before handing over your resignation letter.  Where do you start?  


Will there be resentment from the working parent towards the non-working parent?  Will the stay at home parent resent that the working parent gets “a break” from the kids, adult interaction, a further identity than just Mom or Dad?  Will there be resentment because of how long the working parent is gone for the day?  It might seem sweet and sunshiny to be with the baby all day long, but the sleepy newborn days end and by 4:45 you could be at your END.  When Dad is 10 minutes later than normal, he is almost guaranteed to walk into a shit show.  The working parent has to be able to take on kid duty as soon as they walk through the door.  


How will you connect with others? How will it feel to be without adult interaction day after day? Unless you have a lot of friends that live nearby who have kids that are at least somewhat close in age to yours, you might be pretty lonely only talking to someone who can’t communicate all day every day.  Signing up for multiple activities does not guarantee a Best Mom Friend, at least not immediately.  All mom’s are very busy and their babies/kids have their own schedules so trying to make the leap from acquaintances to friends outside of a class/activity can be a hurdle since the best way to make a friendship grow is constant interaction.  Gaining mom friends is a constant hustle.     

Loss of Identity

Leaving the workforce, even if it’s only for a couple years, can leave you feeling like your identity slipping away from you.  Being at home all day with the kids turns into an identity as Mom.  I can’t even recall how many parents I know simply as ‘so and so’s’ mom.  You remember the children’s names but it’s always so hectic so mom and dad’s name gets lost in the shuffle.  Sometimes it’s hard to separate from mom duty in order to attend to your own hobbies and interests. 

How will you “refresh?”

Getting space away parenting to attend to your own hobbies and interests is vital not only for your identity.  Don’t feel guilty about this one!  Treat yourself to some self care.  Wether it is once a week, month or few times a year, make it a priority to have some time away from your baby/babies.  Everyone needs a break from Mom Mode. Being burnt out constantly means the entire family suffers.  Schedule a date night or a Mom’s Nite Out or just go for a run.

Think beyond newborn phase

Try to think beyond the sleepy newborn phase where you’re cuddling, napping, or walking in the stroller all day.  At some point your baby is going to start to sit up and roll.  Then comes the crawling, the walking, and the talk talk talking!  Beyond that, there’s regressions, behavior issues, power struggles and boundary pushing.  As a parent you have to roll with this no matter what, but when you’re home ALL day, every day, it’s a whole other animal!

What will you be doing all day?  

Being home all day can make you stir crazy fast.  Draw out a tentative schedule of activities.  Maybe it’s lunch with a friend or family once a week or a mommy and me class.  The eat, sleep, play cycle gets boring fast.  Look up what’s available in your community.

Budget For Activities

There are free and cheap things to do with baby besides going for walks and the playground, but there are so many cool things to do, even the less expensive activities will add up.

Consider what you experiences you might want to have with your baby and price it out with a liberal guess at how much and  how often you will go.  Will you want to do dance or art classes? How much is the indoor playground? If you live somewhere with tough winters take into account that you might want to go frequently in the winter when you’re unable to play outside.


Think beyond income vs. daycare costs.  Additional costs of working would be commute (time/gas), health insurance costs, take out food costs.  Keep the income loss amount in perspective.  Take home salary is usually about a third less than your actual salary (in the US at least).

When and how and/or if you will reenter the workforce?

I have probably edited my plan several dozen times, but even if it changes, there should be a plan.  Think about when you would go back, after the youngest is in elementary school?  Only a year?  Then, think about how to reenter the workforce.  Keep your resume updated, if possible, do volunteer or part time work in your field, and keep up with networking connections.

Mom working on laptop
Me trying to work with my ‘napping’ newborn.

After all these different factors have been thought out, which are you leaning towards?  If you are leaning even slightly towards one or the other, you know your answer.  It’s never easy, but often times the decision is simple after working it out.  What will it be for you?