Thursday, September 6, 2018

3 Tips on Making Solo Parenting Doable

It's officially September, and in 8 days, our family will be whole again! By the time Nick comes home, we will have officially lived separately for 354 very long days. Looking back on the last year, I truly appreciate the sacrifice that Nick made when he agreed to the decision to go on with his training without his family with him. I'm not saying that it was easy for me (or my children), but it was definitely harder for Nick. I know boredom, and missing out on our lives for past year has really been rough for Nick. It's been tough on our kids to not have their dad around every day too. I pray that one day, they can look back at this year we got to spend in good ole College Station, and truly appreciate the extra time we got to spend here.

Over the last year, I've really had to readjust my life to parenting "solo". I never use the word "single parent" in my case, because I'm not a "single parent". I have a loving and supportive partner who more than provides for our family financially and emotionally. There is no child support or child custody arrangement involved (which many single parents deal with). Before Nick left, I was used to having a lot of help with our kids. Nick does A LOT for me around the home when he can. He cooks, does dishes, cleans the house, bathes the kids, gets them ready for bed, and always remembers to pour me a glass of wine. It was also nice to have another person to share carpool duties with. On days I had a lot going on, just having Nick to pick up D from gymnastics, and grab Mattis from school was so helpful. When Nick left, I had to figure life out alone, and there was definitely an adjustment period.

I thought I'd give y'all 3 tips on how I "solo parent" to make my life a little less stressful. These things really help me to "sail my ship smoothly"!

1. Structure. I'm a former Marine (of 10 years), and married to a still active duty Marine who just happens to be a former drill instructor. We love structure in our lives! No, we don't run our home like a boot camp, but there is definitely a lot of structure. When Nick is gone, I go into overdrive when it comes to structure. I schedule everything in our home down to the last minute.

For example, in the mornings, I am up at 5am no matter what. I need that extra hour before my kids get up for some "me" time. I throw on my favorite podcast (will blog about that soon) while I pack my kids' lunches, write them notes, get dressed, and go through their folders to see if I need to sign anything. This takes about 20-25 mins. I spend the last 30 minutes of my morning alone reading a devotional. My kids are up by 5:50am (it gives them 10 minutes to get up out of bed), and by 6:20, they've had their breakfast. They know if they're not done by 6:20, mama isn't happy, and I'm not messing around. I don't let them watch TV while eating breakfast or have screen time (because that distracts them). Their sole purpose in life is to eat. By 6:35, they've brushed their teeth and gotten dressed. I brush their hair, pack their backpacks, and make sure they're ready. This gives us a good 30 minutes to relax before we need to be out the door. I let them watch a TV show, or play a game on their tablet. Our mornings are stress free and calmer because we are not rushing to get out the door to make it to school on time. No one is yelling to "Put your shoes on!" or "Where are your socks?!?" or whatever other phrase I have oftentimes yelled at my kids when we are rushing to get out the door. 

Out the door with plenty of time to take photos on our way to school!

Because I am doing this alone, having this structure keeps us all on task, and it helps me keep my sanity in tact. I don't have Nick here to help me with the load, so having a tight schedule really helps me make sure everything that needs to be done, gets done!

2. Me Time. I can't tell you how much I used to love days when I'd tell Nick, "you got the kids for a few hours. I just want to roam around Target." Being a solo parent gives you less alone time. The first few months Nick was gone, I realized I was starting to go a little crazy. One particular day, my kids were being the complete opposite of the angels that I knew them to be (hahahaha!), and I had lost my screaming at my kids like a crazy banshee. I sat on the floor of my closet with the doors shut, in the dark, with a glass of wine, and cried sobbed. I realized that I hadn't done anything for myself since Nick had left. I booked a baby sitter, texted all my friends, and planned a girls night. I try to make a genuine effort to hire a sitter, and go out with my friends for dinner every once in a while.

Me and my friends on our last "girls night out".
Also, I go the gym every. single. day. I don't skip days. Some days, I go twice a day. But that time in the gym is my favorite time of the day. It's where I do my thinking, and just let all my frustrations out.

This is my gym fam. They really are like family! 

3. Pray. You know that 30 minutes I have to myself in the early mornings?  I read a devotional, and I pray. It really sets the tone for my day, and having some one on one time with God gives me a lot of peace. I often get stressed and anxious about everything that I need to do alone with my kids for the day. It's nice to get the reassurance from God that "I'm going to be ok", because He's handling it for me. I don't believe in that phrase, "God will never give you more than you can handle." That is lie. This past year has been WAY more than I could handle. However, through prayer and through His grace and mercy (lots of mercy), I have figured out how to handle this life that I've been chosen to live. I have fallen apart multiple times throughout this past year, and have questioned my life choices (more than once). Every time, God has found a way to show me that "this too shall pass".

There a several other ways that I have found to make solo parenting doable for me. I'll continue to write about it as I think about them. Everyone knows that I am a hot mess, so if I can do this, anyone can. It's just a matter of finding YOUR balance, and what works best for your family!