The lovely husband, as you know, travels frequently for work. He has not been home for seven days straight in a very long time, nor will he be anytime soon. But he is very rarely gone for more than three nights (and if you hear me convincing myself to find fortune in that sentence, you're listening well).
Next year, though, he's already announced one ten-day business trip and the likelihood of a second one. The sweet children do not fare well in his absence. They just love their daddy very much. It's everything I want in my partner's relationship with my children, but the strength of their bond is my downfall in his absence.
Here are our coping mechanisms. Maybe they'll help you if you find yourself on the intermittently temporarily solo parenting path:
★ Use your technology. We use Facetime and Skype as often as schedules and time zones allow. The lovely husband will keep a break in his mid-afternoon schedule when he can if he's on the west coast so we can see his lovely face when we're finished with dinner here. He'll stay up well past midnight when he's on European time just to say hi to us in that same after-dinner window.
★ Make a Flat Stanley (or three). The girls each have a silly photocopy of a photo of their daddy's face hanging bedside. He literally watches over them while they sleep. I think it's extremely creepy. They love it. Whatever. I also just bought some artist transfer paper and I have a plan to take a photo of their daddy's face, print it on fabric, and make them little daddy dolls (based on this pattern I've used before) before his first big trip.
★ Wear your comfort. When the lovely husband starts morphing from that guy we remember into a what's-his-name, I let the kids sleep in his t-shirts. Presumably the shirts are clean so they don't necessarily smell like him, but I tell the kids that they're wearing daddy hugs. They like it.
★ Go upstairs. When I'm solo parenting, bedtime is automatically fifteen minutes earlier. I don't think they've even really noticed, but it's an essential move because everything takes longer when I'm the only one maintaining bedtime choreography. So many reminders, so little time. They end up asleep at their regular time, and that's the goal. Everyone knows tired kids are even-more-cranky-at-missing-their-daddy kids.
★ Then go to sleep. I always try really conscientiously to get more than my average amount of sleep when I'm on my own. Cranky mama is even worse than cranky kiddos. Getting enough sleep is an elusive chase for me most of the time, but it's imperative if there's nobody around to share the lunch packing and homework checking and sock searching and story reading.
★ Check yo' self. I get so wrapped up in how difficult everything can be when the lovely husband is gone. I think that's a testament to our balanced parenting, and so I really despair in his absence. I feel his absence and the doubled load so acutely. I need to remind myself that some parents are on their own every night, and my reprieve will come.
What have you got to add to my list? I need all the help I can get!
The Cartographer of No Man’s Land by P.S. Duffy. Angus enlists in the Nova Scotia WWI regiment and travels Europe to search for his missing in action best friend and brother-in-law, leaving his wife and son behind. Along the way Angus discovers more than he ever wanted to know.
Join From Left to Write on November 14 as we discuss The Cartographer of No Man’s Land. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
You guys, this book was incredible -- one of the best things I've read all year.