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14 days of Single Parenting


I survived 14 days of single parenting and lived to write this post about it. No doubt, those 14 days contained some of the worst parenting moments I’ve ever had. There were moments when I felt so completely overwhelmed and alone.

Here are a few things I learned along the way…

Wishing for America yields no results.
The first 24 hours were pretty much a pity party. I kept thinking, “If we lived in America, I’d go to my Mom’s house for the week. Or maybe I’d visit my sister. Or my Aunt. Or I could drive a car from house to house and visit everyone!”

I wished for:
a frozen lasagna.
a Sunday School class.
a MOPS group.
a Mother’s Day Out program.
smiling Sunday morning nursery workers.
a US-sized washing machine.

Inhaling 7,498 pieces of chocolate only leads to a sugar headache.
The first day Hubs left was so challenging because Schäfer was really testing the boundaries.

I tried to sooth my nerves through chocolate.
I got a sugar rush.
Then, a sugar craving.
Finally, a sugar headache.

About midnight on day one I realized that yeah, I’d made a mistake, but I can start anew tomorrow. Eating healthy did help my energy level.

Survival Cleaning is enough.
I cannot clean the entire house, but nor can I ignore The Four Stations: the kitchen table, the dishes in the sink, the living room and the laundry. I finally figured out what must be done for sanity and I let the rest of the house go. During those 14 days, I didn’t dust the entire house and I only mopped twice.

Let go of the guilt. Ask for help.
I felt so guilty asking my friends for help because when they need help they ask their family members so I knew there was no way I could ever return the favor. I got over this.

We explained the situation to a friend and she heartily agreed to come and read books to Schäfer. I also had a neighbor, who was still on university break for Chinese New Year, randomly drop by and read books to Schäfer.

I asked for friends to come by and read/play with Schäfer because:
1.) Who really wants to come over and help clean?
2.) I figured Schäfer loves to read books so having friends read to him helps maintain his language level until we move and settle into a new preschool.

With Schäfer occupied and Sianna down for her morning nap, I was able to tackle the laundry, dishes, etc.

Embrace the break from cooking.
My grandma once said that she liked it when Papaw went to the deer came for a week because she and the kids ate tuna fish sandwiches. Trust me, Papaw wasn’t eating any kind of sandwich. He was a meat plus 3 sides kind-of-man.

These two weeks, I rarely turned the burner on. I did cook some eggs because we had egg sandwiches a couple of times. Each sandwich was accompanied by some color of vegetable. Yep, they were all steamed because they were actually part of Sianna’s baby food. Schäfer didn’t care. He will eat anything.

For a sandwich alternative, we had plenty of leftovers (cabbage rolls and German potato salad) in the freezer.

We also had a fresh block of Manchego cheese which provided for many a cheese sandwich.

Sianna’s 9 month portraits.
Well, this was the breaker. I had been single parenting for three days when it was time for Sianna’s 9 month portraits. That event motivated me get downtown by myself with two kids.

Getting downtown took some effort: loading the stroller on and off the bus with a toddler wanting to “be a helper” while Sianna’s latched onto me in the Ergo trying not to get whacked in the head + a diaper bag, bus card, etc. Good times.

Schäfer doesn’t need the stroller, but since the studio is 4 city blocks from the bus stop, it’s best if we have an option for when he gets tired of walking.

I’m a better parent outside.
At first, it rained four days straight. Even after the rain had stopped, the temperatures remained in the low 30’s. About day 7 or so, we got some warm 65 degree. I literally felt my mood lift with the sunshine.

I’m a much better parent outside than inside. Maybe it’s because people are watching? Or maybe it’s because Schäfer can get all of that energy out in a positive way.

By the end of the two weeks, we were back to rainy days in the low 30’s. I felt my parenting skills get a little boring. At one point, I’m pretty sure I was the one who needed a “time out”.

Make a craft station.
Since the printer is already packed away, we didn’t have a new, fun dazzle craft everyday. To ease my guilt, I kept the scissors, markers, paper, play dough, etc. at the end of the kitchen table. When Schäfer wanted to, he could create.

Book a play date.
After we made it to town for the 9 month portraits, I felt empowered to get out and about.  Play dates took some extra energy either for hosting in our home or traveling to/from, but each one was so fun. A change of scenery did us good.

At the same time…

Home Sweet Home.
If it was raining and below 30 degrees sometimes the best thing for us was to take it slow and stay home.
Read books.
Have some extra fun.
Buy a drink.
Go to a nearby bakery.

Accept the fact that each night someone or both will need assistance.
In the 14 days that Hubs was gone, I had one glorious night where I slept from 1am – 7am without an interruption. All of the other nights had several requests.

Schäfer’s request: to go to the potty, kicked off covers, where’s Raffe?, can I sleep with you? etc.

Sianna’s request: waking every 45 minutes to see if I’m there, wanting a different sleeping position (she still hasn’t started rolling over), wanting to cry for a while for no reason or… I’m still trying to figure her out.

Either way, it made for some pretty tired mornings.

I started a caffeine habit.
All that lack of sleep, made me start the day with a huge mug of Earl Grey. By the afternoon, I needed a Coke Zero to keep going. I don’t generally drink caffeine so these two beverages gave me quite the buzz – and a nasty little habit to break after Hubs returned home.

Everything else had to wait.
blogging. (yep. still pretty far behind.) packing boxes. returning e-mails.

11 comments to 14 days of Single Parenting

  • pod fan

    chocolate and caffeine are hallmarks of josh’s trips away! =)

    I thought about emailing you or calling several times during your singlehood, but I am so aware of how it creates the need to respond or reply. I thought of you so very often – especially when I noticed your blog was looking….um….a little unkempt. (haha, just kidding! But I did miss your posts!)

    anyway, I’m taking a two day vacation (by myself!!!) to BJ tomorrow and actually thought about visiting you and becoming your ayi for the day…and then realized that might be a bit awkward, me showing up on your doorstep and all. But the thought was there. That’s what really counts, right…?

    love you, sister. always glad to hear from you!

  • Wowsa! You’ve been through the fire. Too bad about the chocolate, I thought that cured everything. You must have a new found compassion for single moms. This is real life and you have said it well for the rest of us. Sometimes life is tough. But you did it and lived to tell about it! Good luck with the caffeine.

  • Ana

    I hear ya, sister. I can relate. Not sure how single parents do it. Wilbur hasn’t left me alone with the boys for a long period of time. But 10-12 hour days are not uncommon. I, too, developed a caffeine habit since Evan was born and I’m not in any way about to kick it. Maybe when they are both off to college. Good job, mommy! Glad Shorel is back.

  • Deborah

    Praying for your dad!

  • Carma

    I love your blogs, Sandra. It's nice to get a peek into a mother's/superwoman's life.

  • sherry

    Caffeine is the gas in the engine of this family! Of course you already know all my bad habits. 14 DAYS! That is intense! I want to cry thinking about it. It sounds like you really did great! And, yeah, I needed to be in the time out chair this weekend and Brock was home!

  • Joyce

    14 days is a really long time to be Mom alone! You did it! Thanks for sharing it all, I didn't know so make sure you post that you need extra, special prayers from all of us not close enough to help, OK?

  • Heather

    I'm so with you on the asking for help part. It's hard! Most of our British friends here live within walking distance from their mom or sister (One friend lives 4 houses down from her mum). They all have consistent help…and therefore don't really need mine. But I often remind myself (and them sometimes!!!) that I don't have anyone to 'go to' when I need it so I just have to ask.

  • Kimberly

    You are an amazing woman, Sandra! You survived! We are so glad to see you back via blogging. I’m thinking of you lots as I know you have tons going on with packing, moving, saying good-byes, and of course parenting. 🙂

  • Sandra –

    Bless. your. heart.

    You survived. AND you went out!!??!!?? I’m highly impressed.

  • amy d

    wow. Made me want to bring you dinner Sandra!

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