Not many phrases rattle me these days. Perhaps it comes with age or maybe it’s the unique perspective one gains when taking care of young children. You learn to adapt and bounce back when challenges arise. To do otherwise would mean a systematic breakdown of the fragile foundation being built each day by a family. Yet when my wife utters the words “I have to go out of town a few days for work”, the chain reaction can be palpable. My inner voice screams “Run for your life! All is lost! Save yourself!” Yet on the outside, I remain composed. If it were not for the telltale signs of stress courtesy of gray hairs, you’d think I was channeling Spock from Star Trek. Besides, the little people can sense when Mommy or Daddy’s armor is cracking. Having a plan of action at the deep end of the pool will determine whether you sink or swim.
A game plan not only prepares one for a given situation, but also provides the flexibility to adapt to new challenges. There’s a lot of trial and error in one’s approach, especially if you’re dealing with more than one child. The following are some of my observations on how to survive and thrive when parenting solo. Feel free to add your own ideas to the list because when it comes to kids, one size does not fit all.
- Stick to established Routines. Kids respond well to parameters. Although they may protest at times, knowing when it’s reading time, or snack time, or bedtime, etc. offers much needed structure that’s comforting to kids. If fact, they’ll often discuss their routines with friends.
- Possess a good poker face. As a parent, you’re the anchor. You need to be seen as a confident leader on the outside even when you’re wavering on the inside. Be Spock.
- Increase the kids activity level. When your better half’s away that means you’ll be expending twice as much energy trying to keep the family boat afloat. Instead, give your kids more play time, preferably outdoors at the playground or a park. Fresh air does wonders in setting up a good night’s sleep for children.
- Check the weather and get the kids’ clothes set up the night before for school. Enlist the kids to help make their clothing choices to eliminate any potential fashion battles in morning.
- Master the Kids’ menu. Prepare foods your kids like the way they like it. Sounds simple right? But knowing the finer of details of how they like their food prepared can be the difference between “This is yummy!” to “Mommy doesn’t it make it like this. I don’t want this!” Trust me, waterworks at dinner time will lead to a long night.
- Make use of Video chatting. Kids light up when they get to see and talk to a parent. It’s much more reassuring to a child than a simple phone call because Mommy or Daddy don’t seem so far away. Skype, FaceTime, Yahoo, Google, and others provide useful options to set up video chats.
- Put Relatives on High Alert. If you’re fortunate enough to have family in close proximity, let them know you may need help when flying solo. More times than not, they’ll respond generously.
- Establish Traditions. Find an activity that you and the kids can do that’s special. Maybe that means going to a specific restaurant or catching a movie or game night. If you’re a sports family, perhaps attending a sporting event makes sense. The possibilities are endless to build lasting memories.
What’s on your list?