Keeping your sanity during solo parenting can be difficult.
I’ve been part of the military life since birth, as an Army brat and later a Navy wife. I’ve witnessed years of my mom going through it with my brother and me and now as a mother myself, I’m seeing firsthand what it is like to take on solo parenting when my husband is away.
Sunday marked my second year as a parent. I’ve experienced my share of deployments, late nights when my husband is working and weeks where he’s gone for training. He was deployed for 7 months after our son was born.
Being a parent is tough work, emotionally and physically. Being a solo parent can be even harder.
Don’t let yourself get into a state of disarray during times of solo parenting. Your spouse may be away, but family life continues. I’ve made a point to tell many military wives and friends that you can’t let this stressful time bring you down and I’ve had to remind myself of my own advice multiple times.
Take a breath and follow these tips to stay out of or get out of a solo parenting slump.
6 Tips for Keeping Your Sanity During Solo Parenting
Make friends. Do not isolate yourself during periods of solo parenting. Deployments, TDY/TDAs, unaccompanied orders and training cycles that keep our spouses working long hours can be tough. Talking to others can really help. Make friends with your neighbors so you have someone close by. Join your command’s spouse network. Find out about the PTA at your children’s school.
Make time for yourself. Send the kids out to a sleepover. Take turns with another mom watching each other’s kids and go get a massage, shop without your children or just enjoy a coffee and muffin on your back deck. Get a babysitter and go out with friends and fellow parents. You need to talk to grown-ups, particularly if you have a baby or toddler.
Get out of your house. Get out of your pajamas, put on clothes that empower you and leave your house. Go to a movie, try a new restaurant or go for a run. Nothing gets you down more than sitting at home. Get off the couch, turn off your computer and step out your front door. There’s a whole world out there full of possibilities.
Volunteer. There’s something about helping others that truly helps you grow as a person. As a solo parent, you have a lot on your plate, but making time for others really has its own rewards. Volunteer at your church for Sunday school, serve lunch at a local soup kitchen or read the mail to an elderly person.
I’ve done this and it is a wonderful feeling to see how happy they are to have company and to receive letters knowing someone is out there thinking of them. If you just can’t find the time, clean out your closet and make a donation to your local Salvation Army. You will have helped someone in need and cleared the clutter in your house at the same time.
Exercise. If you aren’t already participating in a regular exercise regimen, start one.
You can join a gym, hire a personal trainer or take a class at the YMCA. You can just put on your walking shoes and head out the door. Exercise increases your metabolism and raises serotonin. Serotonin affects your mood (read happiness), your appetite and digestion as well as sleep patterns, memory and sexual desire.
Now who wouldn’t want all that? Motivated to exercise now?
Make time for fun. The new school year has started and there will be stress from homework and juggling after-school activities. As a solo parent, you are responsible for all of this.
Make Friday night a pizza and movie night with the kids. Take the kids bowling, have fun at your local putt putt golf or dare I say it…take your kids to Chuck E. Cheese’s.
Children experience stress during times when a parent is away too. It is important that your kids have fun and enjoy time playing. It also keeps their minds busy and away from focusing too much on the fact that a parent isn’t there.
Related: Resiliency Starts with Resources: 4 Resources for Military Kids
Solo parenting can be hard, but hopefully some of this advice will help ease the tension and bring back a sense of peace and self-confidence. Remember, you can do this. You are not alone.
Seek out help if you become overwhelmed. You are not the only military spouse who is solo parenting out there.