If your life is anything like mine, you work full time and you have a spouse who travels frequently for their job. The situation isn't exactly ideal, but with the following real life tips you can ease the stress of parenting while your spouse is away.
1. Before your spouse leaves, plan ahead. This one seems like a no brainer, but it really is the most important thing you can do to help yourself.
Make a list of activities that you will need to manage on your own, and what you need to contribute to each event. For example, if your child has a soccer game and it is your turn to bring the snacks. Create a dinner menu for the week. When possible try to use leftovers from one meal to create another the next day. After you have made your activity list and menu, write up a shopping list and hit the store. When I've put in a full day at the office, and picked up the kids across town, the last thing I want to do is stop at the store. By planning ahead I can avoid this situation.
2. During the week, nighttime prep is your friend. At the end of a long and exhausting day, you most likely don't want to do anything but hit the sack, but doing so can be a huge mistake.
Pack lunches the night before to save time in the morning. Lay outfits out for everyone, including you. Give the kids a bath, and take your own shower before bed. No matter how many years I have been waking up at an ungodly hour, I will never be a morning person. By packing lunches ahead of time, I can savor a few more minutes of sleep.
3. Utilize Technology. Take advantage of technology to make your life a little easier.
Load up your dishwasher instead of washing the dishes by hand. If you have to do laundry, take advantage of the delay wash setting and time your laundry to be finished when you get home. Once you get home you can load up the dryer right away. I can't imagine what it must have been like when everything had to be done by hand, but I do know that I am so grateful to have technology on my side.
4. Save major chores for the weekend. Don't overwhelm yourself with vacuuming, dusting, and toilet cleaning during the week.
There really is no reason, other than to calm your neat freak tendencies, to handle major chores during the week. Unless your dog destroys the carpet, try to avoid the big stuff until you have a hand from your spouse. I have to admit that I don't always follow this tip whole heartedly, but I do try. My Type A Personality can sometimes take hold, and I may find myself in the midst of a dusting frenzy before I know it.
5. When all else fails, phone it in! There may be times when your spouse has to leave unexpectedly, or you might not have it in you to plan ahead.
Maybe you were sick before your spouse left, and you didn't have the time to plan. Maybe you forgot there was class party and you signed up to volunteer. No matter the reason, it's ok to do what is necessary to get by. There is no harm in hitting the drive thru, picking up cookies from the bakery, or skipping a bath when there isn't time. No one will really know if you had to pull a shirt of the hamper and toss it in the dryer to freshen it up. I've been known to pick up some happy meals at the end of the day, because I just didn't have it in me to put a frozen pizza in the oven.