Saturday, 21 June 2014

A Week Apart

The husband is currently away in China while Kaitlin and I are here in SG. He isn't away for work but for personal reasons, so it was more of a choice to go. I know of families who have such arrangements, of traveling husbands/wives and leaving their family for a week or maybe even more for work or other reasons. However, for us this doesn't happen at all, and well to be frank I'm not a huge fan of us being apart. I simply don't like the idea of the family not being together for too long a period of time.



The last time we were apart for such a period of time was when Daddy Li was in the army. That was almost two years ago when he just enlisted. We both didn't have choice on that and had to learn to deal with it. Back then, Kaitlin was still a tiny baby and though looking after a newborn/young baby is no easy task for a first time mom, in a way it was easier to handle because she was sleeping most of the time and also she wasn't very aware of the absence of her dad.

Now, Kaitlin is pretty much aware that Daddy isn't around. I was actually quite surprised that she isn't that affected by it. So far we have had no big tears. Except for one day, just for a few mins she wanted Daddy cos water got into her eyes while showering and Daddy didn't appear. Well, she got over it pretty fast and has been dealing with the absence of Daddy pretty well. Only last evening, did she start saying she wants Daddy to come back and he will be back later tonight. I'm so proud of this little girl!

For me, I'm pretty surprised that I've been dealing with the husband's absence pretty fine. I thought I would feel like it's the end of the world, but it's not. I guess in a way this kind of means that I've matured and am no longer the clingy and dependent other half. I think I've finally realised that there's no point moping, and energy and emotions are better spent on what's important and is in front of me. In this case, it would be looking after Kaitlin and caring for her. I guess her presence also makes the absence of the husband better. I spend most of my time and energy with Kaitlin that I guess in a way it might have distracted me.

To be honest, the few times I felt really terrible was when I was feeling unwell and had to look after Kaitlin and having to go to the special docs.

This past week I actually enjoyed the special time Kaitlin and I got to share together! We went on mommy daughter dates. Though being a stay-at-home-mom means that I'm with babygirl most of the time, I would still rely on the husband to care and entertain her in the evening. Even if he wasn't helping, he was at least around and being around helps alot. However, with his absence that kind of meant I've to deal with everything mostly on my own. Not a great feeling, but I was surprised that I could actually do it. Sure it was a little tougher, but knowing that I could manage gave me a sense of fulfilment and that kind of kept me going.

I know solo parenting can get tough..so here are some tips:

Distract Yourself/Keep Yourself Occupied
This really helps to keep your mind off things. Busy yourself with chores or looking after the kids. When you've time to rest, keep yourself occupied by exercising, surfing the net, trying out a new recipe or whatever that you usually enjoy doing.

Talk To The Kids
No matter how young or old your kids are, I think it's good to explain to them how long your other half will be away and why they can't be home with the family. I believe that kids would understand in some way or other. It's best if your partner could have a talk with them before they fly off as well. This would prepare them for when daddy/mommy has left. Talk to them about what is going to happen, and how you hope they could co-operate with you during this period. You would be surprised that some kids actually do understand and would help out a little more/co-operate more than usual.

Dates
Go on mommy-kiddo dates. Indulging the kids and yourself a little wouldn't hurt. You could bring the kids to a playground that they haven't been to before. It's a new experience for them and it's a great way for them to burn their energy. Instead of cooking at home, head out for lunch or dinner at your fave places.



Head out for a baking class together or to the movies. It could also be simple dates like a walk at the nearby park feeding the fish and having a picnic or going down for a walk to gaze at the stars. Whatever makes all of you happy.


Prioritise
When solo parenting, there's only so much you can do in a day so prioritise what's more important and do it first. Do what needs to be done, it doesn't have to always be perfect. For example, if you don't have time for home learning activities it's fine, you can let kids play with their toys or play with everyday objects. Alternatively, give them a colouring or activity book. The laundry doesn't have to be done everyday if you can't manage and forget about cleaning the storeroom, just stick to the bedrooms first.

Rest and RelaxIt's so important for parents to rest and relax, even more so when you are parenting alone. It can get tough dealing with tantrums and everyday things that resting and relaxing will keep you sane. Find alternative care and head out for a quick shopping trip (even if it means grocery shopping or shopping for the kids). Inviting friends to come over to the house is another option. You can look after the kids while catching up with friends.  For me, I need to have sufficient rest if not I will feel unwell at times, if not I would be a grumpy mommy and no ones likes that.

Discipline
Just cos mommy/daddy is away doesn't mean you should indulge in the kids to make up for it. For me, the same rules apply. I do indulge Kaitlin a little more, but when she has made a mistake, I discipline her all the same. It can be tiring parenting alone especially if it is more than a few days so if you can't handle dealing with a crying and screaming toddler, the best and safest thing to do is to place them somewhere safe and leave the room for a few mins. For me, if it is a serious mistake or if she is behaving very badly I would bring Kaitlin to the "naughty corner" for her to cry it out. I take this opportunity to take a deep breath and calm myself down. I can get pretty hot tempered, and that's not good at all so I try to get away from the situation to prevent myself from doing something I may regret like spanking her. After a few mins of crying, I would return to Kaitlin and explain to her what she did wrong. She mostly understands and would apologise after.

I hope the above tips help. I really have great respect for moms/dads who do solo parenting on a regular basis while their other halves are traveling for work or other reasons. Even more so, when they have more than one kid to care for. I have even greater respect for single parents out there. They do this for more than just a week..in fact more than a few years at least. So if you are in the same situation as me, just think about how lucky you are to have your other half around for most of the time as compared to some other families. It's not so much about feeling better about yourself cos others do not have it as good as you, but rather think about how tough it is for them and how they manage to do it. So likewise, you can do it too!

If you are in the same boat as me, I certainly hope this post makes you feel better that you aren't alone and that if you are having a hard time looking after the kids right now, that it will all get better.

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