As important as it is to support your spouse by allowing him or her to go on a trip (whether for business or for fun), it can feel overwhelming if you are the parent staying home. You know the sinking feeling when he or she tells you they need to leave. You know the stress of anticipating that day on the calendar…the fear of not having “back up,” the worry of how to manage everything on your own. All you can think is, “Don’t leave me with these people…” :)
I realize there are families who juggle this dynamic on a regular basis if one or both parents travel for work or if they are a military family, a ministry family, a musician’s family, or a one-parent household, etc. I’m not sure what your situation is, but if you find yourself juggling your responsibilities as a solo-parent (or caregiver) for one day or for many, there are a few strategies that can help you.
Some of the basic or obvious tips include keeping in touch with mom or dad via FaceTime, calls or texts, having a full fridge or pantry, making sure each child has numerous clean changes of clothes to wear, and bracing yourself to “roll with the unexpected.” :)
In addition to these, there are five specific strategies that I have learned from my experience as a wife to a student pastor where I have from time to time found myself at home with one, two, and then three small kiddos. Don’t feel too sorry for me, many of those trips I’ve had the pleasure of going along too! (Thanks to the grandparents!!!) Some of the trips we’ve taken our kids with us, but every year there are a handful of times where it makes no sense for the entire family to tag along. (Like to Poland, or Nicaragua, or Queens, or HOT-lanta…Atlanta in summer.)
Just this past weekend, I decided to stay home with the kids while Derek was with the leaders and students at Fall Camp. Though I would have loved to be at camp (it would have been my 10th year to go…sniff, sniff…), we had commitments at home and it seemed like the best thing was to stay back. (Again, don’t feel sorry for me…because Grandma took the kids Saturday night and I went to a fun wedding with a friend!)
Side Note: Derek actually suggested this blog topic and this was our hilarious text conversation…
We are so thankful for our extended family and their support. Yet, for many families, grandparents and extended family are not available to help.
Being the “at home parent” when your spouse is away can be extremely stressful, nevertheless it can also be a time for you to grow in your parenting and to rely on God for strength, wisdom, and patience beyond your normal limits.
Here are 5 tips for when you find yourself managing the home-front solo:
- Strike a Balance Between Going Out and Staying In.
- Make One-on-One Time for Each Child.
- Extend the Finish Line.
- Keep an Eternal Perspective.
- Ask For Help.
I will be writing further about each of these strategies over the next five writing days. (Tuesdays and Thursdays. Woohoo!) Each new post will be linked above. Thanks for reading and feel free to add your own ideas, experiences and insights in the comments.
I pray that you find these tips helpful and encouraging.
Singing His Grace,
Your Turn: When have you found yourself solo-parenting?