My husband left on the red-eye for New Zealand yesterday morning, leaving me with two pre-schoolers to look after on my own. Although he's been away many times before, I don't think I've posted on this before so I thought I would jump online and say a few words about flying solo. How I get through it and the like. Some may relate to the challenge.
Mex usually goes to NZ on business twice a year (for four or five days at a time), and he takes another three long-weekends each year to visit his sister in Sydney or go camping with a friend. I'm happy for him to take these trips because the break does him good, and he can't change the work trips anyway so I may as well embrace them.
I'm lucky this time that my parents are here and not away, because the last two times they were overseas themselves when he left, which certainly made things harder. It's nicer to have back-up. Even when you don't need to use it too much, it's still nice to have.
What I always do on the day or two before Mex leaves is make sure that the cooking is done for the next week, so I don't have to cook if I don't need to. So I currently have a bunch of stuff ready to go in the fridge and freezer, and that wipes out something I normally do during the week so I don't have to think.
I also make sure that I'm ahead with the washing. While I'll still need to do washing while he's away because that pile is endless, I prefer to make sure that any full loads are done before he goes. That way I've saved myself another thing that I don't have to do if I don't have the time, and I find that makes a difference too.
Oh. Did I mention the dog? When my parents are here, I send the dog to stay with them while Mex is away, because walking the dog is one thing too many. If my parents can't help, we ask a friend or neighbour to walk the dog a couple of times while he's gone. It makes things a lot easier if you don't need to worry about that.
Another thing I usually do is bend the house rules and customs a bit, so the kids know that when Daddy's away, it won't be a sad time but rather a fun one. I've found this means that they're more likely to be well-behaved for me, because I'll reward the good behaviour.
As an example, while the kids normally eat cereal or bread for breakfast, when Mex is away I give them one of my muesli bars instead. The bars are healthy but they're more expensive than cereal so it's not something I would do all the time, but the kids have been pretty excited to have one of these for breakfast, which puts them in a good mood.
And because I knew that they'd had veggies and protein for lunch, I was lax with their dinner last night. I was buggered because I hadn't slept well the night before, and when I came across some frozen chips in the freezer that needed to be used, I thought bugger it and that's what they had. They were excited about this too: we've never had chips at home before and we eat them so rarely, so this felt like a big thing.
Last night I also had some kickback when I announced it was time for a bath. 'If you get in the bath and don't complain, I'll give you some chocolate.' That worked. A piece of chocolate is a fair trade for getting them washed without complaints, and it made my life easier. The only times they've had chocolate in the bath is when Mex is away, meaning this also feels like a big thing so it kept them in a good mood during feral hour. Winning.
The biggest challenge with Mex being away for the past few years has been when to have my shower, and how to have a moderately peaceful one. In the past I've had to put my daughter to bed first, then have my son in his cot in the adjoining room so I can keep an eye on him.
Thankfully the kids are a bit older now, and my daughter has enough sense to call out if I'm needed. So what I do these days is put the TV on for a bit and ask them to look after each other while I'm gone. It's only happened once that my daughter has called me down, and that was because my son was standing on the couch - so it wasn't a huge deal anyway, but she did the right thing.
While of course I would much rather have my showers without listening out for children, you have to take the small mercies and the fact that I can have a shower without watching a child is a big one for me.
The issue with Mex being away this time, is that I have a lot of work on and that hasn't happened until now. Yes I've worked when he's been away before, but I haven't consistently had this much to do for a while. This can make things harder because I need to spend the kinder and childcare hours doing that, and not keeping on top of things at home. I've already warned him that he may come back to mess this time and he gets it - you can't do everything - but it always helps to give your partner a heads up that they may be returning to chaos.
Anyhoo. I think that's enough for now. Do let me know in the comments if you've had to fly solo with kids before and how it's gone for you, what you've done to get through it.
Hope all's well with you, and speak soon x
* All images courtesy of unsplash.com