I'm a solo parent right now. Since we've announced that we are moving to the OC area, the part I didn't say was that Working Dad has already started his new job. He's been there for a week or so, and I've been up here, trying to get the house sold, and ready to move down there.
We can move down there anytime, but getting everything sorted and moved and packed and the house ready to put on the market isn't a picnic.
Neither is being a 100% on parent all the time. I can't believe how an actual single parent would do it.
I'm calling myself a solo parent for the time being. I'm not a single mom, but being solo with the kids isn't easy. There's no one else to take one of them away for a moment. Forget about feeding Ocho without EG begging for attention.
But it's also fun too. I make all the decisions, I hold all the cards. I never have to worry that there is someone else I need to pay attention to beyond the children, nor do I worry that someone else will have a different idea about whether she can eat more candy or not. If I say no, it's a NO. That's all there is to it.
It's been complicated for the kiddos to bee without their dad for the weeknights, so I've tried hard to keep them in the loop. Here are some tips for how to help the kids understand when one parent is away.
1. Make sure you explain what's happening. For us that started a few weeks ago when we knew that he had accepted the new job and had a started date. Explaining that Daddy has a new job, and that he'll need to go and start working it before we get to be in the same place was confusing, but starting early gave EG plenty of time to understand, process , and ask lots of questions.
2. Give a specific timeline. It's important for the kids to understand when Daddy will be home. We explained in detail leading up to the week, then the day he was going to go kept repeating that he would be home for Shabbat on Friday. This is also a tricky one because you never want to say they will be home before they are. It's better that they arrive early than late. Late ruins your credibility and makes it hard for them to trust what you are saying next time. Relate it to something they now about, like a holiday, or a class they take. It can be hard for a child to understand that daddy will be back in 5 days.
3. Lots of phone calls. We send Daddy a picture via text message, and call him every night to say goodnight. Usually this is two calls, one for Ocho and one for EG, since getting them to bed, bath etc at the exact same time is quite a challenge by myself. Especially given that Ocho can range in her bed times by 45minutes for so. If you can't call, then leave a voice mail or write a note each day. Its important for the child to understand that Daddy still wants to know about them and their day even though they aren't' here.
4. Agree to let some things go. The hard part when the parent returns, especially when they are going to go away again is that the reactions range from the child being over the moon and never wanting them to go, to wanting Mommy only because daddy leaves them. You have to be willing to let it go, not take it personally and accept whatever your child brings to the table at the moment.
5. Remember that it is temporary. It's important for your child to understand that this situation is temporary. That you have a goal to be together as a family, and that once this part of daddy's job is over, you will be. This a is good thing to remember for yourself too!