Home alone

My husband decided that it was okay to go on a week long business trip recently. There are so many things wrong with that statement…

I love my kids. I really do. But they drive me insane after a while. Why can’t kids just be like adults? You know, self-sufficient and all that good stuff. And why don’t they allow kids to get drivers licences from the age of 7?

Needless to say, my coping mechanisms were tested to the umpteenth degree. I failed many times that week as the perfect parent. I know I’m not a “baby-stage” mommy – but now I’m holding onto the dreams of having teens.

I know there’s a war going on but seriously, this was a HUGE problem for me. These are some of the mountains I had to move:

  1. Waking up
    • When there’s just one Big person around you have to wake up when the Littles beckon. There’s no rolling over and pretending that you’re fast asleep so that your significant other takes over the horrid morning run. Wake up time is about 5.30am in my household. My kids have never been late sleepers – no matter how late we put them to bed. I am not a morning person – my Yin Yang is thrown off centre before I can even say “Yin Yang”.
    • Being single for the week I had to make my own coffee!
  2. Morning routine
    • Eat, Dress, Brush Teeth & Hair. It’s not that complicated. When you have a 2 year old and a 7 year old it’s a nightmare. My cat provided absolute no support during the process – I’d fire the cat but at this point he is less maintenance than my 2 sons.
    • Eating – on school days there are 3 options in our household; WeetBix, Jungle Oats or All Bran Flakes – that’s it! WeetBix and All Bran Flakes you serve yourself. Mom or Dad make the oats. It turns out that when there are 2 Bigs in the house both kids are happy to serve up their own breakfast. When Mom is alone – cooking is expected so oats is demanded.
    • Getting dressed; the number of shirts that the 2 year old wants to wear is exponential to the amount of days dad plans on being away from home. So, 7 days x 7 t-shirts = 1 x Michelin baby.
  3. Getting into the car
    • Observation 1: When dad is home the baby happily puts his backpack on and walks himself to the car, when mom is driving said baby must be carried (and carry the backpack too).
    • Observation 2: When dad is home the oldest is in the car before the engine starts, when mom is driving said oldest child must insist on holding some sort of life-changing debate in his bedroom before we can get out the front door.
  4. Driving to school/s
    • The kids go to different schools. Every morning I fell into the trap of playing the ‘who gets dropped off first’ game.  I managed to take a photo with my phone one morning of a school shuttle bus driving in front of me. That seems like a very good solution in my opinion – most probably none of the benefits I anticipate are on the selling points of the shuttle service’s promotional collateral.
  5. Fetching Kid 1
    • It turned out to be quite embarrassing as every day I was texting hubby to double check on what time I was supposed to collect my beloved oldest, even though it was very diligent mommy here who had drawn up the colour-coded school schedules in duplicate.  You see, if I am late to collect Kid 1 I am reminded of this on a daily basis. “Daddy is always here on time” he says. It also doesn’t help that he has extra murals every day and either Kid 1 or the school seem to change these up every other day.
  6. Fetching Kid 2
    • No complaints here really. Same time. Same place. Same routine – walk in, get a big surprised smile, get a huge hug and kiss, walk out, go home. Bless him.
  7. Homework
    • Maybe my convent schooling had such a profound effect on me because I am almost fearful of the homework schedule – not for Kid 1, for me… [Insert psychological analysis here]  Homework isn’t so much of a problem as it is keeping the boys separated long enough for the homework to be completed. The little one always wants to do what his big brother is doing so we’ve now managed to sit them side-by-side; one doing real homework and the other one enjoying doing pretend school work. It seems to be working.
  8. Playtime
    • Sophy steps up to the plate to play ball (footie or cricket) with the kids in the garden. Shew – mom gets a breather. But only for 10 seconds because when dad isn’t home the baby clings to mom like a blood-sucking leech to a Blood Donor Services delivery van. I have found several new places to hide from the kids in the past week.
  9. Bathtime
    • Do boys always pick fights with each other? When do they learn that it would be better to punch your opponent in the face than to splash them with water which has no known deterrence or secret powers? End of fight not? If that is the case then my kids have yet to learn that lesson because the bathroom inevitably looks like a whale crash landed on our geyser which must have fallen down in the middle of the bathroom. And, what’s with boys and their ears? Are they incapable of cleaning their own ears properly?
  10. Dinner time
    • This is also known as Pot Luck Period when hubby is away. Dinner is served and I begin to pray. Not say Grace – really pray that we’ll survive this meal as a family unit without dad present. I consider it an overall triumph when the only result is 1 upturned plate of food on the floor as opposed to a whole portion of sushi submerged in soya sauce.
  11. Brushing teeth
    • No problems here. I tell them it’s a competition. They’ve never asked me what the prize is so I keep telling them the same story.
  12. Story time
    • One adult cannot be in two places at the same time.  One adult cannot read two different story books at the same time.  I’ve tried.  It doesn’t work out well. (It also doesn’t work when your Grade 1’er tries to help by reading his own bedtime story while you read to the Pre-Schooler when the Grade 1’er has chosen a book that requires mom to Google words from time to time.)
  13. Bed time
    • Most nights this works out okay as my kids aren’t late sleepers either.
  14. Sleep time
    • Well this is a whole other ball game. I call it musical beds. It would be so much fun to play if only I could stay awake…

By this stage I am exhausted. I can feel the tension in my body due to the responsibility I know I am carrying for two adults.

The weekends were better. I think it’s school that I have a problem with. Or mornings. Or both. We had a lot of fun doing all sorts of messy crafts and science experiments, even baking and stuff.  Swimming was standard and TV time was good bonding time for all of us. (I blogged about all the activities we did in The Naked Eggs)

When my husband got back home I was already curled up in a ball under layers of blankets in a quiet, dark bedroom ready to relinquish all parental responsibilities for the foreseeable future.

How on earth do single parents cope? Seriously.


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10 Replies to “Home alone”

  1. Lol Mel. U lucky Jacques is so organised. Some women have a big other child in their hubby. Shem – I’m sure getting your own coffee was hard. At least he will be back soon.

    1. Funny Imeldah. You *know* I also have a Big other child in the home. I guess it’s just better when all the “children” are home together 🙂

  2. Hahaha I loved this post Mel.

    I think because our family situation is different and Daddy is away for long stretches of 3 months at a time, the kids and I fall into our own routine. And then when Daddy is home it’s more of a holiday type atmosphere.

    You mentioned your weekends were easier – as homeschoolers, we don’t have that added stress of racing to get out of the house every morning. My 10yr old is really good with his baby brother and once I’m up, showered and dressed I meet them downstairs for breakfast. Then while I’m dressing the toddler, Mic is gettin himself ready for the day. Then it’s time for school.

    I do admit that for about two weeks after Daddy leaves again we generally have a bit of attitude and naughtiness as Mic tries to push my buttons while he adjusts to having one parent again. But he is at the age now where we talk about it and I have learnt to anticipate it. 🙂


    1. Hi Mandi, your story is fascinating and scary all at once 🙂 It’s amazing what we do when we have to. Good luck with whichever cycle you’re in right now. Truly inspirational. MM

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