Daily life

How do I do it?

1:40 PM

One of my regular reader left me a comment on my latest solo parenting post asking me how I cope with DH being away a lot. And this alone prompted me to think about it and come up with this present blog post.

Those who have been reading me long enough...or heck even from the start ( almost 10 years ago...that is a lot of blogging), will know that I have a husband who has been in IT consulting for years, then moved to business consulting. Consultants are usually on the move...a LOT, which explains a lot of our relocation experiences, and of course had me man the ship on many occasions, as a child free person and as a mom. I have been at it for years, some of his jobs required more travelling than others, and as all wives of consultants know, the sweeter half can't necessarily tag along, which translates into moments of loneliness, and stress. So how do I do it?

I'm not sure I have a clear cut war plan to cope with it to begin with, I myself still have my moments with each of his business trip during which I want to scream, crawl into bed and wait it out. I'm not going to lie here, these trips are tough. The good new is that after a few stints you know what to expect...more or less, and you fall into a routine of sort. Before I had Ishita, would revert to what I call "singleton mode": silly TV in the evening, TV dinner, meals that do not require too much prep time (cooking for just one person SUCKS), finding small errands to run daily just to be out of the house more often (it gets a bit creepy being alone at home all the time), having friends coming over, and avoiding too much of a routine on a daily basis (monotony when you are alone is even more daunting than when you are together). I did a lot of walking back in the days, ran all my errands walking in fact, not so much to save on auto cost than to lengthen the time of my outings, when you are out walking you don't notice time passing and something as simple as going to the mall just because you felt like having an ice cream will suddenly take you 2 hours instead of 20 minutes. I was also working from home as a translator back then, so I would work a few hours in the morning when my motivation was at its peak and then spend the rest of the day doing things for myself.

After having Ishita, the translation work was replaced by being a mom, it is a full time job, and along with it learn to be even more flexible. The good new is that you don't really have time to get bored and the need to avoid monotony and routine pretty much disappear. It is replaced by a bit more stress, as you end up being at it 24/7 with little to no back up. As the child grow you realise that the key to your sanity while in solo parenting mode is to get them busy enough during the day so that you have a time out at night. School helps, going to the playground in the afternoon too, better yet, combine the two. The need of a bedtime routine for your child is of absolute vital importance when you are alone on the job. So is the need for flexibility, because there will be days that will try you so much, you won't be able to follow a schedule, or even go ahead with your plan of putting together something as simple as pasta and tomato sauce, not joking at all here, I have been there, so have all the mothers I know who went through solo parenting. These days usually call for an eating out plan, or better yet food order from your favourite take out. Some might feel guilty at the idea of doing so, I've been there too many times for any iota of guilt to have survived. These are the moment when you realise that you aren't failing yourself or the children ordering pizza, but that the failure would have been for you to implode, shatter to the ground in a puddle of tears in the kitchen with the remains of burnt pasta and kids crying in hunger. Wonder Woman is fictional, always remember that.

Being on my own as a child free soul or as a mom, the one thing that has not changed in all his trips over the years is how we keep all communication lines open...all the time. ISD call be it, make it part of the budget. Email, chat...several times a day. DH and I usually call each other once in the morning and once at night, plus any other extra calls needed in between for more technical and practical topics. He usually ask me to call him when I step out when he is away but doesn't when he is in town, this is one of many ways to feel connected to one another. I myself ask him to call me when he reaches a particular destination, and immediately give me his new local number when on an international trip, and we always say good night to one another on the phone, whoever hits night time first does it.

So if I had to put a checklist together, this is how it would go, be ready, here are my tips for coping with your spouses business trips:

1) If without children, make routine and monotony the enemy, refrain from doing all your chores for the week in one day...stretch your time. This is particularly important if you work from home.

2) Keep all communication route open with your spouse, have a small ritual of calling each other at specific times just for the sake of it. Set a clock to his time zone so you know where he is in his day without doing some maths all the time.

3) If you are alone, keep the cooking simple, cooking for one person is boring, eating leftovers for 3 days even more.

4) Get out! Have activities that will occupy your days and especially weekends...weekends are the most brutal, invite friends over, go watch a movie, go have a solo lunch out somewhere...just be out of the house or else you'll go insane quickly

5) If you have children, set aside some time for YOURSELF. Remember you are in double duty shift, no back up on most day, you ar IT from the morning until the kids go to bed. Setting a bedtime and bedtime routine is a good idea at this point, or else you'll be on your knees in barely a week. Don't see it as selfish...EVER, your sanity is the top priority when you are alone with no backup. You aren't going to be good to your kids if you are stressed out, sleep deprived and screaming all the time. Asking them to go to bed at a fixed time and respect your own human needs is not being a bad parent...quite the opposite.

6) more important as a mom than a singleton: have a plan B C D E...Z (get the picture?). Stay flexible, and remember that your own sanity is the top most priority, pick your battles, and if that means ditching household chores and go watch a movie with the kids, or hit the mall...then be it. If the kids are cranky and hyper inside the house chances are you won't do much household stuff on that day, at least not without loosing it. Remember they miss their dad too.

7) In the same vein as above: make take out menus part of your life. There will be days you won't hack it with grace and poise. Accept this reality, make peace with it, your kids will benefit far more from a relaxed mom and a pizza than a half botched dish of soggy whole wheat healthy whatever and a frazzled, snappy, shattered, screaming mom. And leave the guilt out...you are NOT allowed to feel guilty for ordering take out...EVER. Those who think you are a bad parent for doing so are idiots...who probably haven't ever been in your situation, or hypocrite liars.

8) Be independent, or learn to be. While your spouse is away, you are manning the house, the finance, the daily schedule. And no women aren't less safe living alone, banish that thought from your mind once and for all. I have been doing it on and off for 10 years, nothing ever happened to me, no weird guy came to my place to assault me and I never felt less safe with my husband half across the planet.

9) Last but not least, relax, learn to chill, and have some special little rituals of your own that you would not necessarily do when your spouse is around. Such as girly TV night(chick flicks, reality TV, favourite TV series marathon....), undisturbed computer gaming, breakfast in bed...your pick (I have done all of the ones I listed over the years).

Will that solve all the problems you face when alone? No. You will still have your moments and hit the wall. But these will make things a bit easier and the rebound faster.

6 comments

  1. <> from my end now Cyn. Your post actually brought tears to my eyes! I cannot thank you enough for taking the time out to share tips that have helped you over the years... I might actually apply some of them for my life now... I believe I have simplified a lot in my life since DH left, but I see now that I can do much more... You have no idea how much this means to me.

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  2. Chaiacupoflife.com3:13 PM

    I like your tips. It's good once in a while to have time apart, but if it is regular like in your situation, you would need to keep yourself busy and find something just for you..maybe like blogging ;-) I totally agree with you on the ordering out for pizza when you're just not up to cooking!

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  3. Fortunately there is less travel for him now than there was in the past.

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  4. ((((Hugs))) and I am glad my tips are helping you. Remember if you need to talk, you know where to reach me :-)

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  5. Navya6:13 PM

    :) I plan to reach out to you ! Talk to you offline

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  6. Alexandra Madhavan3:58 AM

    Loved this post!!! As you know I recently has 3 weeks of being alone and managing the toddler, my sick dad, AND the dog!! My hubby was never away for that long before so it was really hard.
    I also did a lot of take out dinners and walking, and I actually enjoyed the time with my daughter alone (i.e. Daddy the spoiler was away so I took the opportunity to teach her how to feed herself and put herself to sleep) - he totally came back to a different baby! LOL. But seriously, he was impressed, and I totally was impressed by how well I managed without him too. i feel like now I'm finally feeling confident as a mother.
    I totally agree with taking time to oneself - when baby napped, I napped; and in the evenings after she slept I would curl up with a good book. It was a nice break :D
    I'm glad that he's back now though!

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