Your husband is on a work trip and you are home alone with the kids for two weeks? Here are some survival tips to help you know how to cope with this adventure!
The First Day:
Don’t get your hopes up half way through the day because it has gone very smooth. You are thinking that ‘you can handle this’ and ‘this is not so bad’. I’m sorry to inform you that what you are experiencing is a NORMAL DAY. If your husband works during the day, you are only doing what you would do every day. Just wait until you try to cook dinner tonight.
-Don’t try to make lasagna, stir fry, steak or anything that might be time consuming or healthy. Ladies, you can get away with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. Lower the bar way down and stop trying to impress your kids. If you want to impress them- serve up a chocolate Sunday for dinner. Also, while you are cooking, you should probably know that this is the time it all hits the fan, usually someone is screaming or punching or biting.
– For sure the kids will be coming in to bother you. Wear something that you can sweat in and every few minutes go outside to let off steam and yell “Hello” as loud as you can (you don’t want to scream because your neighbors will call the police-‘ hello’ just freaks them out).
-I would not recommend drinking a glass of wine while you are cooking- it may turn into a bottle and your night has just begun. If you need to….put on a movie.
The kids are done eating and its 4:30 pm because you wanted to get it over. You have no idea what normally happens during this time when dad is home because you are usually checked out and pretending to do dishes for a long time. Some things you can do: build a fort, play dress up, go for a really long walk to the park, drive to a different town to get ice cream, put on music videos to the movie Frozen, have a dance party to Pharell’s song, “Happy”, build a city with boxes and pretend a tornado wrecks it, have the kids do a “race to fold laundry correctly” game and trick them into folding all of the laundry….so many possibilities! What you cannot do: bake with the kids (earlier in the day, yes- now, no- your nerves are already fried for the day), or attempt an art project of any sort! And most importantly: do not try to do anything for yourself, it will only end horribly! If you need to…..put on a movie.
-Its 7:00 pm and you are looking at the clock thinking, “Is it too early to put them to bed?” You thought this earlier at 6:00 pm, but I think now it’s safe to proceed. When the husband is here, it’s around 9:00….this is very different. Shoot for 7:00 if you want to survive for 2 weeks.
-Don’t let the kids call and say goodnight to Dad- I know this sounds heartless, but if your kids love their dad, it will only lead to an hour of tears and agony of comments like “my heart is breaking into a million pieces”, or “I can’t sleep because Dad didn’t pray with me”. You will try to explain the odd concept of how absence makes the heart grow fonder but it will only confuse them more. You will be so annoyed that you will want to spank them and that would only make the problem worse. If this does happen- bribe with candy in the morning. Im serious, don’t let them talk to him before bed!
-If you are exhausted, line them all up and brush their teeth quickly versus trying to wrangle them individually. Think along the lines of the Sound of Music and line those kiddos all up. Be more of a tender hearted drill sergeant- firm but still loving. Do not allow any sign of weakness or exhaustion to be visible to the children; they will sense your frailty and work you over until it’s after 10 and you are curled up in a ball in your room rocking nervously. Be firm! Cry later!
-Throughout the bed time routine, keep saying out loud “wow it’s so late, I can’t believe we stayed up this late!” This will help reinforce the idea that mom is cool; she let us stay up late so we have to be cool back to her. If you have to threaten to take away their most precious baby doll if they come down stairs after bed time, you can. Use all the tools you have at bed time to get them in their beds and asleep before 8.
-Do not let your kids sleep in your bed because you feel bad for them; you are creating monsters if you do!!!
-Bust out the check list of good and bad. Hang a really cool prize if they get so many checks so that the entire two weeks they are working their little behinds off to get it! Try using the team cheer method: set out the plan and let them know what would get them a good check. Teem cheer in the middle and watch them work their tails off. Make sure you follow through on the prize though. And don’t yell in Walmart down the hall, “YOU JUST GOT A BAD CHECK”, it will confuse people around you. Hand out the bad checks like they are candy on the first couple of days so they know you mean business. DON’T EVER threaten to take away movies- you would be shooting yourself in the foot and then trying to run a marathon. Movies are your best friend and they will help you through these 2 weeks.
-Don’t spank unless you normally do. There will be times where you are so exhausted and angry that you just want to yell and spank and you are not thinking rationally during this time. Send them to their room and calm down then have a long talk. Kids hate long talks more than spankings, I guarantee it!!
-If it all falls apart and you are thinking about calling 911 for help because you don’t know what else to do, you can put them in their individual rooms and try to emulate a juvenile detention facility. This is only for the worst of the worst times though. Actually this will probably turn into something hilarious, especially if you serve them food in their own rooms and have them ask “the guard” to do anything. It will diffuse a situation possibly. Even though you want to, please don’t lock your kids in their rooms or in cages- you will go to the real jail.
-Good luck with nap time. You have so much to do at this time that you will just have to pick something. I recommend going and lying down or sitting still for an hour. You are going to need it.
-Good luck with that as well. If you are like me and dieting makes you angry, this is the worst possible time to diet. I would order a piece of healthy chicken and a salad from a fast food place and then eat the rest of the kid’s chicken nuggets and fries. Or diet really well all day and then after bed time, eat the rest of the left over spaghetti and garlic bread in the fridge when all I had for dinner was zucchini.
-Trying to exercise while the kids are awake is probably the funniest thing you will try to do during these two weeks. You will spend 5 minutes on the elliptical and then someone will need you or walk right in front of it. If you try to do Pilates, they will join you and it will be so cute; but it will last about 7 minutes and will ultimately turn into a wrestle match. If you are smart, you will have joined a gym that has daycare and you will spend about 4 hours a day working out or I should say at the gym.
Talking To Your Husband:
-Don’t even start the conversation of ‘who is working the hardest’. Late at night, when the kids won’t sleep and you have to get up in three hours, you will be thinking about how he is sleeping soundly in his own motel room, enjoying watching TV in bed by himself, having others serve him every meal…. This is not productive. Try to imagine him in a horrible work environment with a motel that has cockroaches and bed bugs- this will help you not be so irrationally angry at him.
-Its ok to still be annoyed at him for not doing his job and taking out the trash; it’s your way of venting- but to be honest, you sound like a crazy person when you say this out loud because he cant physically do this chore right now, so shove it down deep and never bring it up again.
-On the phone, don’t set a trap for him as far as seeing how long it will take him to ask how you are doing or waiting for him to say how amazing you are for all you are doing for the family. He is a man and he will most likely forget, unless you tell him before the trip that he needs to say it right away, every single time he talks to you. If he is going on and on and on about how hard his job is and you feel like throwing the phone because he has no idea what you are doing- fake a phone interruption and hang up on him. I am so irrational in this area, it is not even funny. Every time my husband goes on a trip I just try not to talk to him because bless his heart, everything he says makes me irrationally angry. I’ve come up with an amazing set of sentences that I can say that sound really supportive- “Thanks for working hard for us”, “We miss you”, and “Got to go the kids are being crazy right now, talk to you later”.
-Set up as many play dates as you can handle. Go to parks at least once a day and a fast food restaurant to play at least twice a day. You can sit there and facbook or read while they run around rampant. Its worth the risk of catching the stomach flu, believe me. If you get the stomach flu from one of these places, im sorry- your situation just got 2,000 times worse and I have no advice but to say: this too shall pass and bust out the movies!
-Go to church- its an hour at least of free daycare and you get to sit there by yourself, listen to some good words to battle the negative feelings and most often churches have latte stands that you can sit and drink coffee….win win. Your kids will forget all of the yelling and hurrying that it took to get to church- you can ask them for forgiveness after. Its worth it, I promise.
This is not an easy situation and I hope you take some time before he leaves to amp yourself up like before football players start their big game. Know that there will be times that your normal routines are completely obliterated and you most likely will yell and cry at least five times on average. There will also be times where you feel like you are on ‘candid camera’ and you say out loud- ok this is funny but I need you to come out now and tell me this is all a joke. And you will also have times where you think- I don’t think this is possible. You will worry that your kids will be forever scarred by your over-reacting, under sleeping and unpredictable behaviors. Just throw in some quality time with your kiddos, a few fun things that go against the normal schedule and be as consistent as a nun going to church. DO NOT try to go without movies, a few friends to distract you, and some deep breathing or prayer techniques you learned while going through labor. It won’t be quite that bad, but you get the picture. After your husband returns, you will feel very accomplished and even though no one will appreciate it or acknowledge all of your hard work, you will know and you should find a way to celebrate what you just did!!!!!
Way to go mamas for raising decent human beings! And way to go dads for bringing in the $$$.
And to all of you single mamas out there- you are pretty much the most amazing human ever invented and I hope your kids take you on cruises when you are old, because you deserve so much for what you are doing! I dont’ even know how you do it!!??!
Please comment some other tips you may have for mamas or suggestions! 😉