Saturday, 1 September 2012

How I cope when my hubbie is away – Part 2

I hope you enjoyed reading Part 1 of how I cope when my hubbie is away. Please read on for more ways I manage life with a toddler and a baby without hubbie for almost half of the year.
  • When my hubbie is home, even when he is working long hours during the week, we still have the weekend to spend special time together. But when he’s away for weeks at a time, weekdays and weekends can all start to look the same. No weekend sleep ins at this house! So, I try to create some special “weekend time”, where I might enjoy a special treat with the kids like going out for lunch or an early dinner at a kid-friendly café or pub, indulge in fish-n-chips at the beach or grab a milkshake on one of our walks. For myself, I might watch a movie while enjoying a bowl of popcorn or have a day (or two) off housework. This breaks the week up and leaves me feeling more refreshed and ready to face another week of going solo.
  • I ask for help … most of the time. I seem to have this little filter that determines what request “deserves” the need to ask for assistance. Deserving activities usually include the things that I just can’t do on my own like looking after Master almost-one when I take his big brother to swimming lessons or looking after both of them so I can go out to dinner for a friend’s birthday. But I do struggle asking for help in order to take some time out for myself, even though the offer is there, as I sometimes worry that we are already asking quite a lot from our support network. This is something I am continuing to work on so that I too can have a break and as Stacey Sullaphen from Sunny Mummy says “look after my children’s mother”!
  • I cook double batches of some of our favourite meals and freeze them prior to hubbie leaving. On the nights I don’t feel like making something from scratch I can defrost and cook up chicken schnitzels, sausages or burgers and just add some vegies or a simple salad. And on the nights I don’t feel like cooking at all, I can always reheat frozen prepared meals like lasagne, curried sausages or a pasta bake. I am also starting to meal plan one week at a time. This is helping to increase the variety of what we eat and reduce the amount of fresh food I’m throwing out. If all else fails there is always cereal or eggs on toast (which growing up was always a special treat in our house anyway)!
  • I like to invite friends or family over to our place for a get-together so I can enjoy some adult company and the kids can stick to their normal routine and go to sleep in their own beds. I have hosted a high-tea (with about 10 friends), play dates and numerous dinners. Not only does it give me the motivation to do some cleaning but it is nice knowing that I can still see my friends with the least disruption to the children as possible. Friends are welcome with or without their children, the option is theirs!
  • On the other hand, if I am going to someone’s house for the evening, I may take the children with me rather than get them babysat. If it is a friend who has kids we might have an early 5.30pm dinner so I can be home by around 7pm for bedtime. If we are going to be eating later or I expect to be out longer, I pack up the porta cots and take them with me to try to ensure the kids have a fairly similar routine to what they do at home, but I still try to keep consistent with a 7pm bed time as much as possible. The boys have both used porta cots regularly since they were tiny so are used to them and they transfer back into their own beds once home without fuss. It is still quite an undertaking though to drag two porta cots and the assorted paraphernalia out so I try to only do this once a week at the most.
  • I am a little bit obsessed with sleep. I think this comes from having my first son not sleep through the night until he was 12 months old. I make an effort to get enough sleep because if I need to be up all night with sick children it is me who still has face the next day. I know what sleep deprivation does to me. I become vague, make mistakes, forget things and my resilience takes a battering. I don’t often rest during the day as this is when I am actually motivated to do chores but sometimes I need to just put everything aside and catch up on some sleep even if it is only for an hour. Normally I try to be in bed by around 9.30pm-ish, depending on how I’m feeling, but I have been known to go to bed early as early as 7.30pm if that’s what I need.
  • And lastly, if it is all just getting too much, such as when the kids and/or I are sick, I cut myself some slack and we have a day where we stay at home in our pyjamas all day! Only the basic chores get done, the TV gets a work out and we all might end up having cereal for dinner followed by an early night. Sometimes it is more about surviving than having a clean and tidy house for a day or two!
So, these are the ways that I cope while my hubbie is away. Thank you so much for reading and sharing my parenting journey with me. I’d love to hear about how other people cope whether it be as a single parent or with a partner who works long hours or away from home.

Mel xx

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