As I type this post, Mara is currently rolling around on the floor while yelling at me in her baby language. In one hand, a mushed up graham cracker. In the other, a small plastic bag of Cheerios. She’s been crying for about 20 minutes because I gave her the bag of grocery store coupons I had clipped. You should know that I still clip coupons. You should also know that she wanted the bag of coupons 20 minutes ago. I’m this close to just bagging this post and telling the other moms that participate in the Real Talk with Real Moms series that I just can’t make this round happen. But today’s subject of solo parenting couldn’t be more fitting for the experience I’ve had this week and most weeks for years. And that’s precisely why I have got to push through to share what I have to say on the subject. Before we go any further, let me just say that I recognize the differences between Solo Parenting and Single Parenting. I recognize that Logan and I choose to be in this situation. I recognize that I have a loving partner who works hard to provide for our family and I couldn’t be more supportive and inspired by the men and women who are truly doing the work of two parents alone. I’m in awe of you and am sending virtual fist-bumps ’til the cows come home!
To paint a picture of our solo parenting situation, Logan travels almost weekly for work. This can be a short stint like 1 or 2 days out of town, or sometimes 3-5 depending on the task at hand. He’s home on the weekends. And the weeknights he’s here are just blissful. Traveling is just part of his job. I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from home, and that involves quite a bit of hustle on my end. We’ve been working this way for almost a decade and it really works for us. We have a system in place and know what is expected of the other, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t shortcomings.
When he is gone (and he seems to be traveling almost every week these days), I’m left to hold down the fort both in a figurative and literal sense. I tend to the house projects that need attention (I’ve taken on the role of resident plumber and electrician), and I also help our girls get where they need to be and do what they need to do to grow day in and day out while keeping our lives together. I do that in addition to running this blog and creating content for this site, as well as for other brands. It’s not glamorous by any means. And somedays I am working until 3am trying to get the day’s tasks completed.
I’m extremely grateful to Logan for the hard work and sacrifices he makes so our family can thrive. He is doing everything he can to guarantee our financial stability (and I contribute to that as well, but it can be like comparing apples to oranges as the money we each make is used for different things for our family). Because he is out there taking one for the team, I feel like I need to do the same here at home. But it’s not always easy. And sometimes when I’m solo parenting, I feel like I’m the one making the major and minor decisions by myself. Some weeks, we totally make the solo parenting gig work. Mara and Vita are pretty demanding girls. If you follow along on Instagram stories, you know this to be true. We have our routine, and most days, we stick to it. But on the days that we don’t, I’m lucky that the girls can extend me a bit of grace. This is especially true with Vita. She’s only five years old, but she’s wise beyond her years. I’m not even joking when I say that that kid is like the second mom in our household sometimes and I don’t plan on stopping it. I’ve noticed that the things that help us survive when solo parenting are pretty simple concepts. When put into place, everyone keeps their cool (most of the time), and we end the day on a happy note. They’re pretty basic helps, but have made all the difference when it comes to my sanity.
Set A Schedule
For me, the main key to successful solo parenting relies in the routine. The girls know that I try to get a little bit of work done each morning. I start before they wake up, but once they’re up and at ’em, they’re little attention-seekers and it can be difficult to be 100% productive blog-wise. We run all of our errands before lunch time. And then we are home to have our snacks. After lunch, Mara goes down for a nap and Vita has some quiet time either in her room (doing whatever she likes) or in the kitchen working on some kind of craft project. And let me just be clear, I don’t prepare any of these craft projects for her. So sometimes this includes a bunch of paper shreds as she cuts out one of her many drawings. She goes through tape like a mad woman. And there are always tons of colored pencils scattered across the table. But it keeps her occupied and happy. This is usually the window of time where I’m working on projects, shooting tutorials, and responding to emails and messages to further the work flow. Occasionally, I’ll take a break from that to help Vita out. I don’t want her to feel like I’d rather respond to an Instagram comment than play with her, so sometimes we have to make exceptions. The kids come first.
Don’t Compare Your Situations
I sometimes get a little resentful as it seems that Logan has the chance to be more productive day in and day out. Because he isn’t distracted by the children, he can accomplish the tasks on his to-do list. He also works in an environment with other adults. Some days, I would KILL for adult human interaction. Many of my day to day chats are with a 5 year old, a 1 year old, and I email, text, and Marco Polo everyone else. I’m also working on some personal goals regarding my health and fitness. In those instances, there is usually a child next to me in a downward dog position and possibly a baby climbing up my back. There are only two kids, but I’m outnumbered. Early on after Mara arrived, I resented Logan just a little bit. He seemed to be able to escape the chaos and head out to his job. And I just assumed it was easy and that was why he was so refreshed when he came home. But he told me that he was refreshed because he looked forward to walking through our door at the end of the day. I was jealous of him because he seemed to have a normal adult life. And he was jealous of me because I was able to spend every day with our children. The grass is always greener and I’ve learned that neither of our individual situations are perfect, but when I step back and look at the big picture, it works beautifully.
Relinquish Control (some, not all)
If I wanted to maintain a spotless home, I could. I could watch my kids like a hawk and make sure that no messes are ever made. But where’s the fun in that? Sometimes, I just have to let them do their thing. I find that letting them be independent for a few hours a day helps them grow in their own sibling relationship. They play with each other better, and are often times little cohorts on a mission to do who knows what with all of the toys in our bins. It usually involves My Little Pony and I’m not even made about it. I’ve had to really teach myself to give up a little bit of control and just let them have their fun. When I do that, they’re happier and so am I.
Celebrate The Victories | Let Go of The Losses
Every day is hard. And each time we make it to bed and the girls are healthy and happy, it’s a victory to me. When Logan gets home and gets to wrestle with Vita (their before bed routine), that’s a victory. When he and Mara are snuggling on the couch in the morning or evening, that’s a victory. Our days aren’t perfect and we are all so exhausted when the sun goes down. There are one million ways to feel failure as a parent. These are big and small failures too. To me, mealtime is one of the most frustrating things about parenting. Vita is the pickiest eater and once sat for two hours at the dinner table while we waited for her to finish her food. Maybe I absolutely lost my patience with them that day. Maybe they wrote in marker on my car seats. Maybe they were jumping on the couch and ripped one of the cushions. The bottom line is that there are going to be times where you feel defeated. It does no one good to sit and stew, so allow yourself the time to be upset and then move on. When you’re solo parenting, you’ve gotta be on your game. The beauty of the night is that you can recharge when the kids go to bed. Allow yourself some grace, reset, and start the next day with a clean slate.
Parenthood is tough. And the visions and goals I have for our family are sometimes put on hold (or change completely) to make way for our actual reality. Sometimes, Logan has to leave town at the last minute and that affects my schedule. Sometimes, the kids are really sick and we just really need him home. That affects his schedule. Obviously, things don’t always go according to plan, but we’ve learned to just roll with the punches. And if there was ever a bit of solo parenting (or parenting full-time with your partner!) advice I could give, it would be just that. Roll with the punches. Do what works for you and yours. It may not be what works for others, and what works for other may not be what works for you. But find what works and do your best to replicate that. And in the meantime, I’ll be cheering you on all the way.
And now, I must go. The littles aren’t going to make dinner themselves. And they’ve also locked the dog in the pantry… 😳
Be sure to check out the solo parenting perspectives by the other amazing moms in our Real Talk with Real Moms series. I’m so grateful to be able to read their words and realize how we’re all just doing what we can to keep our heads above water!
photography \\ PROPER