Before I start, I should just clarify that I am not really a proper single parent and I am hugely grateful to have my awesome hubby, Mr D around to help out with the kids (and maintain my sanity). We just wouldn’t be a complete family without him. However he does travel quite a bit and there are often periods where I find myself a ‘temporary’ single parent!
He’s been travelling on and off for years, and you’d think that I would be an expert by now of ‘just getting on with it’! However, for some reason, every time he leaves there is some kind of disaster and it ALWAYS happens as soon as he steps on that plane!!
When Master J was a baby, he would sometimes be away as often as every other week and I could almost guarantee that I’d be camped out at my mum and dad’s for a night or two. The boiler went once and we had no hot water, and another time the heating broke and we almost froze in our beds. Oh and there was that time we got totally snowed in and mum and dad had to come to our rescue.
There was one time I will never forget though and it still makes me chuckle to this day! Mr D’s parents were staying with us from South Africa and I almost had the police out in the middle of the night. My father-in-law is a journalist and although he were visiting us on holidays he still had a few stories that had to be published by a certain date (many of us know how that feels!!). One evening he decided to stay up and write them all while a (pregnant) me and my mother-in-law had an early night. My bedroom was up in the loft of our house and at some time that night (late, I think) I heard this terrible BANG and then a couple of loud CRASHES followed by frantic footsteps!! I absolutely froze in fear (and I totally forgot the my in-laws were downstairs). In my panic, I managed to grab my phone and call Mr D (who was in Amsterdam). I got through to the hotel operator “hello” I whispered (remember – complete fear) “can you put me through to Mr D’s room”. Operator “Sure, of course’. A few seconds later “I am sorry but there is no answer to that room”. “Please” I begged “Can you go and wake him up, it’s his pregnant wife calling from England and the house being burgled!!!!! Honestly, I don’t know what I thought he was going to do from a hotel room in Amsterdam – in the middle of the night!!!
Suddenly the banging got even louder and I swear my legs wouldn’t more. I knew that I should peak down the stairs but I was just too scared. Then my mobile rang – thank GOD!! “Babe, we’re being attacked – there’s a burglar in the house!!! I managed to blurt out. “Just calm down” he said “and tell me whats happening” “Well, there is really loud banging and crashing and I can hear foot steps going up and down the stairs!!!!!!!!!”. “Where’re my dad” he said. “Ummmmm (suddenly remembering that they were there) I don’t know – downstairs I think.” “I think I know what this might be, said Mr D, I’ll call dad and phone you back!!
Well……. it turned out that the laptop my poor father-in-law was working on had a sudden hard drive crash and ALL his work had just vanished before his eyes. When he tried to get it back, the computer blue-screened – and we all know how bad that is!! (This can quite easily tip even the most placid person over the edge). So a coffee mug might have been thrown and there were a few rushed trips down the stairs and back. NOT A BUGLAR AT ALL!! Oh how we laugh about it now (and wonder where I got my dramatics degree from).
I have also managed to crash the car and get a $500 parking fine during one of Mr D’s trips too!!!!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally hopeless and the kids and I have had some pretty stress free times too. Over the years I have realised that its so much better to be prepared than to just wing it!
My 8 tips for temporary solo parenting
- Be organised!!! Make sure the groceries are done BEFORE he/she leaves, have a plan of action for every day and cook and freeze meals in advance.
- Consider hiring a nanny to help. When Miss L was a baby our lovely babysitter used to come over every day between 5pm and 7pm to help me with the dinner, bath and bedtime. Doing that on your own every day with multiple kids is HARD WORK!
- Ask friends for help. There is no shame in asking a friend to help with the occasional school pick up or drop off or to have your kids for a play date to give you a break. It’s taken me a long time to master this one, but it’s so worth it and you can always return the favour later.
- Go to bed early!!
- Make sure that any ‘hard’ jobs that you may need doing are done before he/she leaves (for example putting the bike rack up on the car or getting anything you may need down from the loft).
- Make sure there is wine in the fridge.
- If you are going to be alone over a weekend, try to arrange to meet up with a friend, so that you and the kids can have some company.
- Try to remember that mess never killed anyone. If you look beyond it, you’ll definitely have more patience.
and if all else fails……….