Recently I was a solo parent whilst the husband was away on a course for work.
It was quite daunting thinking that I would have to juggle the needs of 3 children on my own, whilst trying to keep to as normal as a routine as possible.
I decided to invest in lots of chocolate prior to the solo parenting week, as figured if all went astray I could find comfort in that. Of course any parent worth their salt knows where to hide their “treats” out of sight and reach of eager to eat anything in sight sprogs. (Well anything that’s not seen as offensive such as vegetables or certain meats!)
Off the husband went merrily that first morning, free as a bird. Except I had a cunning plan, he wasn’t going to get out of it totally. I figured that thanks to modern technology he could FaceTime the sprogs to read bedtime stories to them whilst I got their stuff ready (read that as code for scoff chocolate whilst sprogs preoccupied). Did this plan work I hear you ask? I’ll just point to the chocolate wrappers in the bin, that’ll give you your answer.
One of the daunting stuff for me was that I would have to do the morning routine on my own. Usually the husband motivates and helps the big two sprogs to get dressed and have breakfast, whilst I breastfeed the youngest, change his nappy, wrestle suitable clothes onto him and sort his breakfast, whilst at same time sort myself out for the day. I’m not a morning person, but decided the only way the mornings were going to work was by getting up earlier than usual. As a person who loves my sleep this was a big undertaking to lose an extra half hour, but I knew that this was the only way feasibly to survive the morning routine. So I did it, and it worked well.
The oldest sprog goes to a couple of clubs during the week, and I didn’t want to disrupt the routine, so had to figure out the best way to get her there and back, whilst factoring in bath and bedtime for the other sprogs. Managed to get friends to help with the first club. The second one had to factor in a swimming lesson for the middle sprog, so devise a cunning plan to take kids to the Evil M Empire for tea, drop oldest sprog off at club, go home and bathe/change the youngest. It was pretty exhausting trying to do all this single handed but I did it.
During the course of the week I had to deal with an anxious sprog undertaking the Year 6 SATS, sort out any disputes between the kids, entertain and meet all their needs, whilst carrying on with my work too. It was pretty full on, and I was glad to see the end of the week, as life went back to normal with the return of the husband.
As the week progressed, I was touched by the support of friends who made a meal, helped with bedtime and checked that I was alright. But it got me thinking about those who do this on a regular basis, day in and out without a partner. How often do we stop to check if those parents are ok, offer them practical and emotional support? How often do we turn to them and tell them what a great job they are doing bringing up their family whilst juggling it along with the rest of their life stuff? I suspect for most of us (and I include myself in that) we don’t because either we’re so caught up in our own lives, or we simply don’t register how hard it is to actually to do this all on your own. We need to be supporting these parents and their families more, as it really doesn’t take a lot to make a call, catch up over a brew or to offer practical support. They might not be shouting it from the rooftops, but they do need someone every now and again to boost them up, to let them know that someone cares.
So for those I know who solo parent, I want to let you know I think you are amazing to do this and not lose the plot! You are what my sprogs would call a super star.