We are coming up on several weeks where Michael will be traveling a lot for work. He likes to travel, but he struggles with it when he is leaving me home with the kids by myself because he doesn’t want things to be harder for me. And also perhaps because I am a big, fat wimp about parenting solo. Lots of families have a parent who travels often, some have only one parent in the house permanently- in other words, I realize that I am very lucky and I shouldn’t complain. But I do.
Yesterday as we’re driving in the car, Avery says to me in a distraught and doleful little voice, “Mom, this weekend Daddy is going to be leaving. He is going to be gone for SIX days. I just don’t think I can make it that long.”
My first thought was, “Dear Lord, this child is so dramatic.” My second thought was, “Yeah, I’m not sure I can make it that long either.”
I have several friends who have told me they actually like it when their husbands are traveling. And when the words come out of their mouths I look at them like they have just murdered small, furry animals. I cannot understand this sentiment. You want to do all the things all by yourself? You don’t want to have another sane person to come to your rescue when the little people are losing their minds? Are you not tired like I am tired?
When I ask them about this, they explain- they aren’t saying they don’t like their husband or that they prefer him to be gone, but they do feel that sometimes when Dad is away, things can be a little more relaxed, a little easier.
I have been stumped by this phenomenon for quite a while, but now that I am staring down the barrel of several weeks of solo parenting, I have had an epiphany. I have formulated an all-new parenting strategy. I’m gonna call it Parenting LITE. You know, just like that awesome app you wanted to buy on your phone, but you were afraid to commit to the $3.99 it would cost you to get it, so you decide to try out the “LITE” version to see if it’s all that it’s cracked up to be.
Parenting LITE is when you’re doing all of the necessary things to keep your kids alive and functional, but letting go of all the extra crap that you force on yourself and your family. It’s a sophisticated triage system that allows you to prioritize your responsibilities to preserve your solo-parenting sanity. I think this is what my friends have been doing when their husbands are out of town and why it can feel sometimes like a bit of a relief.
So, here are some of my rules for Parenting LITE:
- Baths are no longer a daily necessity. Have you swam in a pool, jumped in a puddle or done anything with water in the last 3 days? You’re fine.
- That thing we do where we limit TV time and instead do educational activities, art work, play outside or use our brains in any way? Yeah, forget that.
- Meal time, schmeal time. Eat cookies, get your own damn snack, forget about vegetables. Your dinner can consist entirely of fat and carbs. I don’t care.
- You can stay up past your bedtime doing whatever you want in your room as long as you don’t bother me. Bye, Felicia. Just bye.
- Underwear are optional. Everett has already adopted this policy as he has refused to wear underwear to school four of the five days this week.
I had to apologize to his teacher when she had to change his clothes and was utterly confused at his lack of under garments. And that brings me to the next point-
- Kids can wear the same clothes up to five days in a row. Do they need to be washed? Nope. Do these clothing items need to match one another? Nope. I’m pretty unconcerned even if they don’t fit.
- Two words- paper plates.
- Play dates, birthday parties, extracurricular activities are all on standby during the period of Parenting LITE. We might make them happen, we might not, but we aren’t going to feel bad either way. Momma’s sanity comes first, everything else can get in line.
- If it can’t be cleaned with baby wipes, it just isn’t worth it.
- A parent’s clothing must consist entirely of gym attire. Yoga pants, workout leggings, messy hair in a bun, no makeup. This does not mean you should go to the gym. It simply means you should look like someone who may have gone to the gym (but didn’t).
And those are my rules to live by for the next couple of days (maybe weeks). Got any good Parenting LITE strategies? I’d love to hear yours.