Not truly solo, obviously. Single parenting is a whole other beast, and I fully understand / appreciate that! (No breaks, financial stress of one income, no ‘other’ to diffuse conflicts, no built-in mechanism for adult connection –> true single parenting is really tough!)
But, temporary-solo can have challenges too. I’m doing some calendar triage and there appears to be a lot of somewhat-solo parenting in my future due to call + conferences. The next weekend when we are both home and neither on call together is a MONTH away. Now, let me note that I am extremely lucky in that even when Josh is on call, I can generally count on getting my AM runs in (even super long ones, like today’s 17 miler). I really really appreciate this.
The rest of the day is pretty much a wild card, though. He might make it home for dinner; he might not. He might be able to take a kid to a sports event; he might not. We also can’t generally go to far-flung family events because Miami Beach is ~45 minutes from the hospital and that is too far in the event of an emergency.
Sometimes I hire a babysitter if one kid has something I really don’t want to drag the others to (example: sports tryout or a bday party where other kids are not invited). But honestly, I don’t have to resort to this all that often. We somehow just make it work.
One big thing that has changed is that I feel more comfortable saying YES to things even when it will just be me + the kids. This is not because I’ve learned the secrets to parenting or have become more laid back (nice idea but nope); it’s because the kids are 5+ and therefore easier to manage! Depending on the event I can often mostly keep my eyes on G and let the others have a bit of freedom. Example: Art Night at school, which I would have dreaded a few years back:
(A was there too; I just don’t have a good pic without her 5th grade BFFs in it!)
I bought immersive Van Gogh tickets and just as I was about to hit purchase, Josh told me he was covering an extra call shift (colleague is on 4-week paternity leave . . . and I do think it’s great we now offer this benefit but also where was it 5+9 years ago? I didn’t even get any paid maternity leave in 2014 or 2017 at the same institution. But whatevs, I am truly glad they offer it now).
Anyway, my instinct was to just find a later date, but you know – MAY! It’s mayhem, you know? So I just booked it for me + the kids. Hopefully I will not live to regret this choice.
DITL Highlights from Yesterday . . .
(Sharing my time tracking!)
4:30: Up after ~7 hrs sleep. Read, HS, planned.
5:30: Run (5 mi) + Strength (20 min full body)
6:50: Shower / eat / get kids out door (joint effort w/ Josh)
7:40: Leave for school! Listen to requested TS Essentials mix on the way . . .
8:30: Arrive at work. Pts (Fridays = only half of a clinical day). Notes. Send pt result notes (through our EPIC EMR). Very little downtime but I somehow snuck in 2 Duolingo lessons while waiting for resident to finish in a room.
12:15: Pick up lunch from caf. Eat, read email, blog comments, some blogs via feedly
1:30: Write post, some home admin, some pt-related admin (calls, sign notes, etc), work email cleanout
4:10: Plan out next week (preview both work + home stuff) + order groceries for delivery — even though I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s I decided to splurge on delivery on occasion when Josh has call.
5:00: Drive home while listening to New Music Friday (NPR; Friday afternoon ritual)
5:30: Home. Eat dinner quickly (leftover pasta / meatballs / broccoli)
6:00: Take kids to Art Night!
7:45: Leave Art Night –> take kids to Menchie’s (with friends that are BFFs with A + G — and who are also moving out of the country a the end of the school year, so sad!!!)
8:45: Home + kid bed routine
SCREEN TIME MINUTES according to phone: 90. Not even sure how I ended up at that # but phone says gmail, messages, Safari, duolingo, WhatsApp, and sheets as top contributors.
My husband is out of town right now and I wasn’t sure how to phrase it either. So I just didn’t! I remember in my early ALI blogging days it would cause a bit of a stir when moms declared they were “solo parenting” if their spouse was away. I’ve always been very conscientious of that since then (as you are as well).
I hope you get through the weekend with your sanity (and maybe some energy) in tact. Good luck!
my sister is a true solo parent so 100% get I cannot compare the two! Call isn’t new for us so I’ve had a LOT of practice over the years. It’s definitely easier with bigger kids! I hope your weekend goes well, too!
As an actual single parent, like your sister, I VERY MUCH appreciate your awareness here. I also agree that “solo parenting” presents very particular challenges partly because it’s outside the ‘norm’ of a coupled parent’s experience. But not remotely comparable to actual single parenting as you note 🙂
Not at all comparable!!!! 100% agree.
My oldest is the same age as C and I had a similar conversation not long ago- I got ZERO paid maternity leave and while I’m glad that the policies have changed for the better at my workplace I still feel mad about how unnecessarily rough my return to work was. I was lucky enough to be able to afford unpaid leave but I also had to use up all my annual and sick leave and coming back with no leave at all was just brutal. It’s amazing how much has changed in the past 7/8 years but I still wish I could have taken off even more time with each baby.
I feel like there should be a separate term for “main parent on deck while other parent travels extensively or is in a space shuttle or on call or otherwise unavailable”. It’s definitely different than being a single parent, but a real enough thing for many families.
I’d be curious how his call works if you are on a run. How long does he have to get to the hospital? I imagine most things don’t start at 5-6 am so it makes sense to grab the time while you can
Unless there is some kind of emergency requiring urgent in person care (rare), he doesn’t have to start early. Thankfully 🙂 As long as I am back by ~7ish on weekdays and ~8:30-9ish on weekends it’s usually fine. Thankfully!!!
oh, and I run loops so I can always get home pretty quickly if needed. ALSO approaching kid ages where we can leave them along for brief periods (esp if everyone asleep and A is aware she is in charge).
My husband periodically has to travel for work, and I definitely feel the difference work wise, since he takes care of many (most?) domestic things so that I can spend more time working. However, I will say, in some ways having solitude in my own home can be really really nice, and I very much enjoy the extra one on one time I get with my daughter when he travels. It’s probably different just having one child, though. 🙂
If I were truly a single parent, there is no way we could have a dog. Truly. Entertaining the dog is what takes the most time with a responsible 11 year old. (And taking care of the house and cars, but I usually let him deal with that when he gets back.) Having an only child is freaking awesome.
Hi I’m Daria- a long time listener to Best Laid plans and now a reader. My partner could be gone for two weeks out of one month (on certain busy periods). We have a 5 and 3 year olds. I work full time in a public school (HS), and some days can really, really tough parenting-wise. And some are just fine, and even pleasant. What helps tremendously to me is putting on my calendar the week before “T s away Tuesday-Thursday” then I write a list for myself and T to set myself up for success. Things that appeared on that list are: make chili, pre-cook chicken, mop floors, vacuum, clear counters, order at Target, etc. Anything to set myself up for success when I am solo.
I thought Elizabeth wrote a wonderful account of her solo parenting journey:
I truly dislike parenting while my husband is away because we share so much of the burden usually. I am staring down a solo weekend on the horizon with 4/5 of the kids and YUCK. I am trying to make sure I have a huge long workout streak in advance because I cannot count on prime time to exercise when he is away and dread moving my routine to the evening. First world problems for sure.