As a stay-at-home mom with a husband who busts his butt to provide for our family of seven, I’m often home “alone” with 5 kids trying to keep my sanity intact while my busy husband is out working hard. I am grateful that he does that, and I’m grateful I can be home with the kids taking care of all the shopping, doctor appointments, homework, projects, and chauffeuring that needs to be done.
But it’s hard.
Evenings when the hubby is gone at meetings are so stressful and make the long days even longer. Sometimes you just have to say “To heck!” with all your mommy ideals, let go of the guilt, and go into survival mode so you don’t lose your dang mind trying to hold down the fort on your own.
And I just gotta say, single moms and moms with husbands in the military who are gone for long stretches of time, hats off to you! I don’t know how you survive the day to day chaos, being a mother AND a father to your kids day in and day out. There’s a special place in heaven for you, of that I’m certain.
If you’re like me, your husband is home, but not home much, and you’re often left alone with the kids while your husband is out of town or working late or going back to school, or whatever. You’re so battered by the chaos of your life, that you’re constantly on the verge of collapse and your whole day can be derailed by the news that your husband will be home an hour later than previously anticipated.
If that sounds like you, here are seven ways you can survive when your busy husband is away:
Visit a Play Place
When I was a young mom, pregnant with my fourth child and had three kids ages seven, five, and nine months; hubby was working full-time as an assistant principal at the same time that he was in school earning his administrative credential. It was chaos. I was exhausted. And the house we were living in was way too tiny for the kids to run around and play. We lived in the mountains where it was often foggy and/or snowy in the winter and it was depressing. When spring rolled around I didn’t suddenly get extra energy to entertain my kids or make them healthy meals, but the weather was finally nice enough to take them to the local McDonald’s with the outdoor playplace. Many an evening with Hubby gone at school and the kids squirrely and bored, I trucked the three of them (and my pregnant belly) to Mcdonald’s to eat dinner and get out some pent-up kid-energy.
I made use of this for many years and sometimes didn’t even take them there for dinner. I’d just take them to a play place for ice cream and playing on the slides. It was a life-saver. And when the weather is really bad, there are plenty of indoor play places to frequent to help your kids burn off some cabin fever.
Eat cold cereal
I hate making dinner. It’s the worst part of my day for sure. First, you use the precious few brain cells you have left after helping kids with homework all afternoon in order to think of what to make. Then you spend an hour actually making the food, only to have your kids unanimously declare it unfit for consumption with protests, gagging, and possibly vomit. Then you spend another hour cleaning it all up while your kids complain about being “starving.” It’s no wonder some days (all days?) you just can’t even with the dinnertime scenario. On those days, it’s OK to have cold cereal for dinner. It’s got carbohydrates, the milk has protein, and the cereal is packed with artificially-added vitamins and minerals. It’s totally a legit dinner. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Again, and this cannot be reiterated enough, dinnertime sucks. No matter how much your kids hated last night’s dinner, if it still exists in a tupperware in the fridge, it’s a suitable dinner for tonight as well.
An alternative to the play place when the weather is nice. We loved picking up a Little Caesar’s pizza (you cannot beat 5 bucks for a meal!) and eating it at the park. We often did this as a family, but it’s also a perfect way to keep the kids fed and entertained when you’re struggling alone with the kids.
Put the kids to work
For some reason, when Hubby is gone and I am in no mood to deal with any nonsense, the kids get especially rowdy. Not just typically rambunctious, but totally, hopelessly, out-of-control psycho crazy. Bouncing off the walls, climbing the furniture, fighting and screaming and crying and yelling and wailing and howling and throwing things hither and thither. It’s absolute pandemonium. I’ve found that the best way to nip that in the bud, is to put them to work immediately. I figure, if they have the energy to jump repeatedly off the back of the couch, then they have the energy to haul pieces of wood from one area of the backyard to another. That activity usually shuts down the fighting and bedlam pretty quickly.
If all else fails, I send them to bed early. If they are whining and crying I assume they’re tired (all tuckered out from rearranging the wood pile, I guess) and I send them to bed an hour early. That gives me an extra hour of down time in the evening. Hallelujah.
Embrace the “me time”
It’s always a bummer when Hubby is gone in the evenings, but I like to turn a negative into a positive here. When the kids go to bed, and Hubby is gone at school or meetings, it’s the perfect time for “me time.” Time to do the things I never have time for otherwise like taking a bubble bath, watching a chick flick, scrapbooking, writing, doing my nails, reading a book, or going to sleep early. Also sneaking chocolate chips out of the freezer or making brownies that you don’t have to share. Use this time to your advantage.
Being a parent is hard. And it’s especially hard when you’re on your own. But if you can cut yourself some slack, go into survival mode, and use some of these tips to keep you sane, you will get through it.
What do YOU do to keep things together when you’re going it alone?