Simple Things for Solo Parenting

With Justin’s work travels lately, Jack and I are becoming pros at life as two.  He’s been very gentle with me, but wakes early asking for Daddy and is overly pouty whenever I leave.

As I juggle daily responsibilities with instant single parenting & a clingy toddler, I’ve realized there are a few things that could make our team of two time easier:

Preset the coffee machine the night before
Learned this morning. Don’t expect time to brew yourself as a solo parent with two dogs. I warmed up a cup from yesterday, delish! 

Fill up the fridge & supplies
Stock up on easy meals and packable lunches. Homemade pizzas, ravioli, rice/beans recipes, chili, any pasta dish, etc. are all easy-to-make dinners. I’ve also stocked up on ham/cheese, apples/peanut butter, muffins, fruit, crackers & some of our other cold lunch favorites. What I forgot was to check the cleaning supplies & toilet paper.

Plan extra-special snuggle & play time
I made sure to have all the house chores & laundry complete by the beginning of the Jack-n-me time. Pulling my thoughts from the baby/toddler room remodels, I decided to spend the entire day at the lake with Jack, even napping together in the shade of the pines. We hadn’t been there in a few weeks and he’d been asking about Nonna’s boat/fishing since the big catch (see A Sunday To Remember post).

Filling our time together with fun adventures & activities instead of chores & the usual games has made the “Dada’s on a Trip” time easier for us both. Jack’s happier, less demanding. I’m relaxed, less stressed. If the dishes don’t get done, then there’s always tomorrow, right? Cuddling on the couch is much better.

Stock the treats & surprises
Having something unique for Jack regularly has helped keep his mind off the fact that Daddy’s been missing. We visited the Borders liquidation sale – big disappointment btw – and Jack picked out some new books & toys. I stashed some fishing lures (Jack’s ultimate favorite “toys”) in my car and hid new colorful Popsicles in the garage freezer (where he wouldn’t expect them).

Planned visits & sleepovers with a few of his favorite people has kept him anticipating fun times. We made the spare bed for Aunt Jess & talk of a boat ride with Nonna & Papa. A surprise-painting project is also looming.

Pack lunches the night before & wake up early
I’ve realized our mornings flow much smoother when I pack our lunches the night before work/daycare days.  Also waking up a half-hour before I normally do allows me to pick up the extra slack & squeeze in more Jack-focused time in the mornings.

Properly use lunch breaks & nap times
By utilizing my lunch breaks at work & nap times at home to catch up on overdue phone calls (switching insurances, paying bills, making appointments, etc.) or run errands (prescriptions, that cleaning spray I mentioned), it’s freed up the time I would normally lock myself in the office or cart Jack around to places he’d rather not visit.

My feet are still drenched wet in the single-parenting area. By no measure am I an expert or come even close to one. I’ve discovered a few things that have made this life easier and believe there are many more ideas to be found. Please share!

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