16 years ago, my husband went to a recruiter for the Army reserves. We walked out of the place and said, “Nope, that isn’t going to be an option for us.” One reason was that he would have to drive a few hours to get to his monthly drills. Another reason was that I would have to be a solo parent and I couldn’t imagine it.
Yep, I couldn’t see how I could parent by myself. Doing so didn’t seem possible. I laugh about that now.
Back then I had one little boy who wasn’t even a year old yet. I really didn’t think I could handle solo parenting. It sounded awful. Just being the only parent around for days, weeks, months at a time? How could we even be thinking about that?
Well, as it turned out, we decided that active duty Army was the way to go. He signed his papers and left for Germany. Instant solo parenting!
Over the years I have in fact gone days, weeks, months, and one time over a year as the only parent in the house. Over the years I have learned a lot about myself, my parenting, and about how to be with kids when you are the only one in charge.
1) Somethings ARE easier by yourself.
Take middle-of-the-night feedings. My husband was gone when boy #2 was a newborn and when #3 was about two months old. That meant he just wasn’t there during the months that my babies woke up to eat in the middle of the night.
As hard as it was to do that alone, not worrying about waking him up was nice. I didn’t have to be extra quiet as I climbed out of bed. I could turn the light on if need be. It really did make the middle of the night times a little bit easier.
2) Sometimes you can only do what you can do.
When it is just you, when you are tired and lonely and worn down, you look at what is important. You don’t dwell so much on the little silly things. You focus on what needs to get done and do it. That can be freeing in some ways.
3) No butting heads about the little things.
Since you are the solo parent, you don’t tend to ask your spouse about all the little parenting choices you have to make. All the choices are all up to you. You never want to do something your spouse would hate but you also won’t butt heads over something small.
4) More time for yourself. More time to think.
After you put the kids to bed, you can have your me time. This will give you more time to think. To think about what went right, to think about what went wrong and what you can do better the next day.
Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my husband after the kids go to bed when he is home, but when he isn’t, I take the time to reflect a little more than I do when he is around.
5) I can do more than I think I can.
Going back to 2005, I didn’t think I could handle being a solo parent. When people tell me they couldn’t do military life, I remember that. I remember that I didn’t think I could either. Is it hard? Yep. Do you just want your spouse home when they are away? Yep. Can you make things work if you have to? Yes you can.
Whether your spouse is in the Military or has another job that keeps them away sometimes, solo parenting can be draining. Find some good support systems to help you through. Realize that you will have to let things go and enjoy the time that you do have together. You can get through it, I know that you can.