#MilitaryMonday: Tips for Surviving As A Solo Parent
One of the biggest challenges of military life is having your spouse away from you for months at a time. When you have children, that means you are going to be a solo parent. You can't always depend on your spouse to be home when you need them to be. You need to make do and figure out how to be both mom and dad to your children. This is a difficult thing to do and going into this type of life can be overwhelming.
The best way to get through the months of solo parenting is to be prepared and learn from those who have gone before you.
My first experience with being a solo parent was in 2005 when my husband left for Germany to start his Army career. I had a 13-month-old at the time and up until that point my husband had been around for everything. The only time we had been apart was when I took my son to my parents for a few days when he was about five months old. Up until that point he had been by my side for every part of the parenting journey. We were truly a team but all that changed when he had to be away from us because of the Army.
Over the years we have grown our family and added two more boys. And over the years my husband has been deployed or away from us for different trainings and jobs. Solo parenting became a part of my life. Solo parenting was something I hated but something I had to figure out how to get through.
Here are some tips if you too will be entering the solo parenting journey yourself:
- Know Your Limits- This is a big one. Know what you can handle and don't be afraid to say no sometimes. If juggling three kids and three different baseball schedules is a little too much, don't volunteer to host a local yard sale the same weekend. It's okay to know how much you can handle and say no. If you need to have a cereal night and pizza every weekend, do it. Remember, you are filling the role of two people and you can only do what you are able to do on any given day.
- Find Good Friends- You are going to need to find good friends to help you through this. Find friends that are solo parenting too. They will understand what you are going through and you can depend on one another. Find friends you can vent to. Even if they don't have the same experiences you do, finding people that allow you to vent about how hard potty training your stubborn child by yourself can be is helpful.
- Relax- I know if might seem hard to relax while you are a solo parent. You have too much to do to relax right? But over the years, I have figured out that carving out time for myself is a must. Sometimes this just meant having a bubble bath after the kids go to bed, other times that meant being able to find good childcare and going out with my friends. The important thing is to find what will work for you and your situation. Give yourself permission to relax. You will need it.
- Get Creative- As a solo parent, you are going to have to get creative. Over the years, you will have to deal with different parenting challenges all by yourself. Sometimes the "normal" parenting advice just isn't going to work for you. You will have to think about the situation you are going through from a different perspective. You will have to find systems that work for your own family and they might look different than what works for another.
- Remember, it's ok- Don't be hard on yourself. Don't beat yourself up if your kitchen is never clean or if you still haven't worked on that scrapbook that you said that you would. It's okay to take a day and do nothing but love your kids. It's okay to cry and think about how hard things are going. Remember, this too shall pass and you won't always be parenting alone.
Solo parenting is a difficult part of the military life. You know you will have to do it eventually and when you enter that stage, you never really know how things are going to go. Use these tips to help you during the times when you are both mom and dad to your children and need a little bit of support in how to get through those days.