Any way you look at the above numbers, it can be a pretty frightening thought of having to solo parent for 8 months. Parenting with your spouse is daunting enough, but when doing it alone – the stakes are higher.
A recent military separation from my Army National Guard husband made me realize that the hard part wasn’t just the physical task of parenting. With a 9 year old boy and 3 year old girl, the emotional and mental aspects were far more exhausting. Everyone is fine until they don’t get their way, one is happy while the other is not. No one can be satisfied with the final decisions made, and asking when daddy will be home 40 times a day hits you hard after a long day of work, running errands, cooking meals and endless activities to keep little minds occupied and hearts happy.
Does solo parenting get easier with time? Probably not, but it doesn’t have to break your spirit. You get wiser with time and learn that it isn’t the end of the world – you learn from your mistakes and pass along little bits of wisdom to others as you continue your journey.
Here are 5 of my own tips learned through solo parenting. You CAN survive while your spouse is away:
1. You’re strong enough to do this. No matter whether you feel defeated, believe it. Just because something is hard, it doesn’t mean you have failed. One stable, consistent and present parent can successfully do it.
2. Don’t forget to schedule time just for you. When solo parenting, you can burn out quicker than usual. Remember to take a breather every so often.
3. Don’t expect your kids to grow up. Just because your spouse is away, it doesn’t mean your kids need to take on adult problems. Do not talk about problems or any reasons you may be stressed with them. Continue your normal day-to-day activities and keep them moving. They will adjust.
4. It takes a village. The most important piece of advice I received when I first became a military spouse, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You’re only one person; let go of trying to do everything on your own.
5. Surround yourself with positive supportive people. Get rid of all the negativity in your life, don’t lose track of who you are. Remember that you need to be there for your kids.
What solo parenting tips helped you during a separation? Share with us in the comments below!
Angela Caban is a military columnist and published author. Her husband, who was deployed in 2008, was one of the many soldiers impacted by the unprecedented activation of the Army National Guard. In 2010 she founded the Homefront United Network to provide assistance and family support through encouragement, educational articles and resources. She is dedicated to assisting National Guard and Reserve families with resources and ensuring no spouse or family member is left behind.