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How To Survive Solo Parenting When Your Partner is Away

I love basketball season. I look forward to it every year because it means that I get to see my husband on the court. I also hate basketball season. I dread it every year because it means that I find myself solo parenting often. With basketball season comes away games and with away games come periods when my husband is away for days at a time, leaving me to wrangle our two kiddos by myself.

On top of the away games, there have been periods in our marriage where we have spent time physically apart during basketball season for one reason or another. During those times, I have found myself solo parenting for weeks or even months at a time while my husband is abroad, and the kids and I are back home. At this point, I’m both fortunately and unfortunately an old pro at solo parenting.

Just because I’ve become accustomed to managing my children and household when my partner is away doesn’t make it easy. When you’re used to having an extra set of hands around the house, even if only in the evenings, the mere thought of having to do all the things by yourself can be daunting. When my husband is away, there are a few things that I do that make solo parenting a little bit more bearable.

My Top 3 Solo Parenting Tips

Plan activities to help pass the day

There was once a time when I was apprehensive about being out and about alone with my children. If that’s you, I have a whole blog post all about how I manage to get out with a baby and a toddler. Planning activities, both out of the house and at home, is something that always helps me to survive solo parenting.

When you’re home all day trying to entertain the kids and watching them destroy the house, the day seems to drag by. I’ve found that getting out, whether that be literally outside to a park or to a restaurant, museum, or another kid friendly location, it helps to pass the time. On top of that, everyone is just happier having gotten out of the house for a little while and it makes it easier to get through the rest of the day once the kids have burnt some energy.

Navigating Solo Parenting, baby brother and sister, boy and girl, by a lake in Japan in the sunshine, Black brother and sister in Japan
Tips for Solo Parenting, running in a park in Japan, young girl plays at the park, young Black girl playing on a playground with mountains in the background in Japan

Another great option that I rely on when solo parenting is to host play dates. Solo parenting can be lonely. I find myself missing my husband and the kids miss their dad. Sometimes, company really helps. I enjoy getting to have some adult conversation with a mom while the kids are entertained playing with friends.

Simplify dinner when solo-parenting

The witching hour is a time of day that parents of small children know too well. The witching hour when you’re solo parenting is witching hour on steroids. One of the ways that I simplify my days as a busy mom, even when my husband is home, is to cook dinner earlier in the day while my daughter is at school and my son is napping. We heat it up when dinnertime rolls around, and my sanity is spared from having to cook in a rush when everyone is hungry and whiney. When my husband is away, this is nonnegotiable.

If you find yourself solo parenting, keep meals simple. Pre-cook dinner or rely on slow cooker meals or leftovers, feed the kids frozen chicken nuggets, or order in. Now is not the time for gourmet meals or even for worrying that all the food groups make it into each meal. You already have enough on your plate (the pun was totally intended).

Opt for an earlier bedtime

Solo parenting is exhausting. There are days when you will find yourself short tempered and inpatient by the end of the day just from being stretched too thin. When that happens, I think it’s always best to opt for an early bedtime and start fresh the next day. For me, that means putting both kids in the bathtub together at 6:15pm and getting them in bed by 7pm. I’ve also been known to skip a page here and there in my daughter’s bedtime stories because, let’s be real, those Little Golden Books can be LENGTHY!

Self-care looks different for all of us, but when you’re solo parenting, it’s more important than ever to find time for it. For me, that time is always in the evenings after I put the kids to bed. It can be hard to find time for yourself during the day when your partner is away, so, on some days, the time after bedtime may be the only completely kid-free time you have. Whether you need to spend that time getting in a workout, facetiming with your significant other, watching trashy TV, or going to bed early yourself, be sure to fill your own cup so that you will be ready to pour into your children when it’s time to wake up and start again.

tips for solo parenting

If I’m completely honest, my solo parenting mantra is that you just have to do whatever you need to do to get through it. It’s not easy to parent alone (and to all of those single parents out there who do it ALL all of the time – I see you and I raise my glass to you!). Some days won’t be pretty. However, you can, and you will get through it. There’s also no harm in calling on your village. I’m blessed to have family members and friends who show up for me when I need them, and I hope and pray that you are too. There have been many times when I have been in the throes of solo parenting and called in a MiMi or a Nana for back-up. If that’s an option for you, take full advantage.

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