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Top 4 Lessons I Learned from My Solo Parenting Weekend

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solo-parentingNothing helps a married father appreciate his spouse more than a weekend without her.

My wife recently returned to her Minnesota hometown to attend an old friend’s wedding. She needed the break. She wakes at 5 a.m. each morning, bikes a good half hour to and from her downtown job and comes home to two boys hankering for momma time.

I was only too happy to see her off at the airport. Then what?

Our culture is busy redefining the role of modern fathers. Dads can do everything moms can. Right? Of course, but the notion of an extended solo weekend still had me clutching some imaginary pearls.

Sometimes my boys can pluck my last nerve after only an hour, less if they put their minds to it.

Brotherly steel cage matches. Uneaten meals that end up in our dog’s stomach. Sippy cups that somehow leak milk all over the carpet. What if they crank up that behavior to 11 all weekend long?

I survived the weekend with only one vomiting incident. I still came away with an appreciation for the work single parents do.

  1. Real Single Parents Deserve Medals, Cash Prizes and Whatever Is Behind Door No. 3: Being a single parent isn’t the ideal scenario. Heck, sometimes I watch HBO’s “Big Love” and wonder how Bill Paxton survives with only two wives. Successful single parents may have a great support team, adequate resources and patient friends, but the heart of their work falls directly on their shoulders. Take a bow, all of you.
  2. You Need to Go Solo Sometimes: Perspective matters in almost every aspect of life. Being the solo parent reminded me of the laundry my wife tackles, the bills that get unpaid without her and how I always have a partner when our boys assume age-appropriate behavior. For 48 hours I saw just how vital my wife is to our home life.
  3. Even Super Parents Need a Break: I wasn’t surprise to see my wife’s Joker-like grin when she returned home. She lit up when she saw our boys’ chubby faces at the airport’s arrival station. The trip recharged her parenting batteries. She was ready for anything, again, at least for a few days. No one’s perfect.
  4. Continuity Matters: We often parent in concentrated bursts. The wife puts the kids to bed while the husband tackles the day’s last chores. Dad makes the children’s lunch while the wife feeds the dog and cleans the bunny’s cage. It’s like tag team wrestling, only with more bruises. It’s far different to parent your children for a full 12 hours. You see foul moods come and go, connect why one sibling is sore at the other and gain a better understanding of your children’s rhythms. You emerge as a more well-rounded parent.

Photo credit: Christian Toto

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