While my husband was away at a ministry conference a couple of weeks ago, I made a goal for myself to try to figure out how to have a fun, non-exhausting, meaningful week even though I was alone holding down the fort with all three kids. Sometimes such weeks pass soooo slowly, but this time, with some intentionality, we had a great time! Here were my ideas for making the week doable and even enjoyable:
1) Have fun! It’s just plain rough having to do all of the parenting work by yourself, so I tried to give my kids lots of extra reasons to be happy and fun to be around, as well as to give myself things to look forward to each day. The work doesn’t feel so hard when you’re having a good time! Your “fun” may look different than mine, but we spent lots of time with friends (the kids’ friends and mine too), made trips out for ice-cream, went to our mall with an indoor play area (since it was -20 degrees Celcius or even colder all week), and took a fun trip the toy store to spend some of the kids’ Christmas money that we had saved.
2) Minimize housework. I spent the couple of days before my husband left working a little extra to get the house into decent shape so I wouldn’t have to spend much time cleaning. And I also just let some tasks slide that didn’t matter to me.
3) Simple meals. I cooked larger meals for a few days before we were on our own, which meant I had lots of left overs. I then made a big pot of stew to fill in as an instant meal for visitors as well as a random lunch or dinner here or there when needed. Chicken nuggets and hot dogs also played their part!
4) Paper plates. We don’t have a dish washer, so dish-washing is always the most time consuming chore of my day. During this particular week, for several dinners we used paper plates that I had left over from Christmas. It was so nice to just eat dinner and throw away the mess!
5) “Play and Pray!” Some friends whose husbands were also at the conference came over to our place Sunday morning with their children in place of church. Obviously, if you can manage going to church, wonderful, but in our situation it isn’t very manageable with all of our kids and without our husbands. In order to still have fellowship, we got together and did a little Bible story for the kids (my friend had the kids act out Jesus feeds the 5,000 and Jesus walks on water with toys), sang some worship songs, and then prayed with our kids. Then as the kids played, the moms and spent time talking and praying for one another. It was such a fun alternative to church!
6) Pray your husband and the ministry event. My husband was at a conference that I would have very much loved to have attended, but was unable to (with any sort of sanity) on the account of our kids. I love knowing that I can play a vital role through prayer and tried to be intentional about praying for the conference and for my husband and his various roles throughout the day.
Those were some of the things that really helped me to not just survive but honestly have a great week during my husband’s absence. What things do you do to survive and even thrive during those times when you’re left parenting on your own? Please share your ideas with us all!
(Post by: Ashley)