It’s a Tuesday afternoon and I’m sitting here catching up on work while snacking on a few pretzel crisps (have you tried them? I’ve been addicted for months). I can hear Adelaide’s noise machine in the other room and Ben and Lincoln giggling in the pool outside. Life feels good right now.
Ever since little Elle was born mid-June we’ve had grandparents or aunts in town. It meant an extra set of hands (or two) to hep with Lincoln, make dinner, and keep things organized. It meant I could pass off the baby for a leisurely shower and if I had a long night, I could grab a few hours of rest once everyone else was up for the day. All-in-all, it was a lifesaver, especially because right after Adelaide was born Ben started a new position at work. That means no more regular business hours and plenty of long, long, nights. When Ben’s gone, he’s gone for more than 12 hours at a time and I have both kids on my own. But, it also means he’s home on a random Tuesday and playing with Lincoln in the pool.
We just survived our first crazy weekend on our own, with Ben clocking over 39 hours of work between Friday evening and Monday morning, and neither of us getting much sleep. In preparation for this big adjustment, I’ve set a few rules for myself. I stuck to them this weekend and so far they have made a world of difference. Here’s what I do to stay sane while solo parenting:
1. Keep the House Clean: In the past, I was very likely to sacrifice a clean kitchen for an after dinner walk, or leave the toys out so I could get some work done during nap time. I’d skip putting away laundry in favor of reading stories to Lincoln or let the clutter pile up in order to spend some time in the evening with Ben. All of these are great, but what I realized is I was less happy doing all of those things in a messy house, and it only took a couple of minutes to fix that. This week Lincoln and I had dance parties while I put away laundry and I opted to clean the kitchen while he ate lunch instead of sitting at the table. I probably missed out on an extra twenty minutes of sleep by straightening the house before bed, but waking up in a clean space is so invigorating for me (and it helps that the “clean” standard is pretty low around here ;P).
2. Remember to Eat: When I’m hungry I’m cranky, I frustrate easily, and trivial things seem so much more important. Making sure that I stay on top of meals and snacks for myself, and not just for the kids, has been huge. Yesterday was my hardest night yet and you know what? I realized after Lincoln had gone to bed that in the business of two kids, I had skipped dinner.
3. Get Dressed: Today it was just out of pajamas and into yoga pants, but starting my day with a washed face and a fresh outfit seems to make all the hours afterward quite a bit more productive (and productive makes me happy). In a few weeks I want to add “leave the house” to my list of rules, but for now getting dressed for my two children (and snapchat friends) will have to cut it.
Bonus* It isn’t a rule, but I have been trying to keep music playing as much as possible in our home during the day. Sometimes it is just quiet background piano music and other times we’ve cranked up Taylor Swift for a dance party. I’ll use a kid’s pandora station for some singalong time in the afternoon or entertain Lincoln with a karaoke version of my favorite Broadway hits. Some of my favorite memories with my babies involve music and it just seems to make everything a bit brighter.
And you know, I’m okay with breaking these every once in awhile. Saturday morning is a great time to snuggle in pajamas until noon. Sometimes a last minute invitation trumps getting the house clean. Although I can’t find a good excuse to go hungry, so I think I’ll stick to that one.