Many parents dread that moment when their partner comes home from work and announces, “I’ve gotta go out of town to a conference the week of the 25th.” While most parents know that they are perfectly capable of taking care of the kids, the house, and tackling their jobs without help, it’s tough to spend those few days without any assistance from their spouses. These tips can make your time without your partner just a bit easier.
- Maintain your family’s routine. It can be tempting to let your family’s everyday routine slide when your partner is out of town, but keeping the kids on their usual schedule helps them to feel safe and comfortable when one parent is away, and also paves the way for better behavior. Keep wake times, bedtimes, mealtimes, and your everyday routines, rules, and chores the same.
- Take this opportunity to assert your parental authority. Sometimes parenting can become a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. When your spouse is out of town, that can create an opening for you to set limits and boundaries that you feel are important to your family’s well-being. What’s more, your kids may try to test you a bit more than usual, seeing whether they can step over any boundaries while one parent is away. Remember to keep all of your family’s usual limits and rules in place.
- Ask for additional help. This is the time to call in reinforcements, whether it’s asking a grandparent to come over for dinner and playtime, a neighbor for an after work playdate, or even hiring a babysitter to help with mealtime and bedtime for a couple of hours. If you have kids who are grade school age or older, you can ask them to pitch in a bit more than usual in order to take some of the daily chores off of your hands.
- Simplify meals. Before your partner goes out of town, consider freezing a few days’ worth of meals so that you can easily heat up dinner and serve it instead of toiling in the kitchen. Crockpot meals are also a great way to put dinner on the table with minimal time spent in the kitchen. And, of course, if all else fails, ordering pizza or taking the kids out for a quick, inexpensive, family-friendly meal can be a sanity-saver.
- Try to get out of the house. Breaking up the evenings with a quick trip to the ice cream shop, a round of miniature golf, or even just a run to Target, can be a nice way of getting you, and the kids, moving, and will help the time to fly just a bit more quickly.
Does your spouse travel for work? What do you do in order to get through those long days and nights when you find yourself parenting without your usual partner-in-crime? Let us know in the comments section.