So, Matt gets back from SE Asia and India in two days after traveling for 19 days straight. And every time he travels, which has been quite a bit over our married life, my respect for single- parents and military moms skyrockets.
Because, no lie, flying solo with kids can be tough.
There are bedtimes and school lunches to manage. Bills to pay and the trash to remember to take out on Fridays. There are three little mouths telling stories all at once and only one set of ears to listen.
Like I said, props to single-parents and military moms. Props and shout-outs and fist bumps and “You deserve a Starbucks and a really long all-expense paid vacation” all at once.
And while holding the fort alone is mostly definitely draining, here are a few things that I’ve found eases the pain– just a little . . .
1. Pick a Netflix show and watch a whole season. For me this trip it was Hart of Dixie, which I loved but Matt would have fallen asleep in. You think I exaggerate. No, really, I’ve watched the entire season the past two weeks.
2. Enjoy not shaving your legs as much, wearing those really comfy pants that are a far-cry from sexy, and becoming a pillow-hog.
3. Two words: Paper. Plates.
4. Plan stuff for the weekends. Weekends are the hardest time to fly solo in my opinion since all your friends are hanging with their families, so be proactive and plan some events to look forward to. It might be type-A-ish of me, but the week or so before a trip, I start making calls and sending emails to get a few things written on the family calendar so the kids have something specific to be excited about. PURSUE PEOPLE. Don’t expect others to remember your husband is gone and invite you.
5. Make a trip to the library, early on. Catch up on some Nicholas Sparks’ novels like you’re on a beach somewhere, for free. And eat chocolate and drink your favorite girly wine, while you’re at it.
6. Enjoy being a slacker. This includes serving, guilt-free mind-you, peanut butter sandwiches and cereal and frozen pizza for dinners. It also includes skipping the weekly chores and being okay with a little more mess (or a lot more, the kids really don’t care.)
7. Hit the gym. No, really, hit it. I struggle with depression when Matt travels, and consistent exercise does wonders for me- especially when I can do it outside in sunshine with some good music going. When he travels, I almost have to look at exercise as necessary medicine for my mental sanity and not just the optional perk it usually is.
8. Invest in a sitter. Before he leaves, I try to schedule at least one girls’ night out. There’s something deeply healthy about getting out in the evening and skipping the bedtime routines– especially when it involves a Twilight movie that your girlfriends will actually appreciate (as opposed to the time you went with your husband and he chuckled embarrassingly the. entire. movie.)
9. Have people over after the kids are in bed, too. I’ve loved having a few nights where I invite friends over to hang out after children are asleep. It’s like a girl’s night out, only . . . in. And it breaks up the mundaneness of watching that Netflix show all by your lonesome (see number one).
10. Use the time to cultivate your friendship with God. This takes intention, but when my husband is around, my obvious default is to talk to him about everything. When he’s gone, there is more space naturally created to develop a running conversation with Jesus. And plus, when you pray out loud amid the chaos of the latest sibling fight something like, “Oh. dear. Jesus. Please help me parent these kids and let them know they better stop arguing, rightthisinstant.” Well, you’re talking to God and the kids get the message that mama’s about to lose it so maybe it’d be to their advantage to stop hitting each other. You could say it’s a prayer win-win.
*This post is happily dedicated to my friends, Michelle H. and Christine L, heroes on the homefront, for sure.
And having trouble with the ol’ attitude while he sees the world and you’re stuck at home? Read this.