By Robyn Whitlock
"How do you do it?Ē
I used to get asked this a lot. With three young children and a husband who constantly traveled for work, my tongue-in-cheek answer was, ďNot very well.Ē But as I embraced this season in my life, I found that with a little planning, I could still enjoy being a mom, even when my husband was away or working late.
Plan ahead. Schedule time for yourself before your husband leaves. Plan playdates for the kids. Trade babysitting with another mom and go sit at Starbucks by yourself. Making meatloaf? Lasagna? Sloppy Joes? Make extra and throw it in the freezer. Youíll have plenty of options for no-cook meals that donít involve frozen pizza.
Eat out. If you like to eat out and itís not a stress on your family budget, do it. Often, my husband came home tired after a long week, longing for a home-cooked meal and time with his family. On the other hand, I was desperate to get out. Making sure we ate out a few times while he was away enabled me to give him what he needed while still caring for my own needs.
Stick to the routine. If your kids normally go to bed at seven, donít keep them up until eight. Keep bedtime simple and consistent.
Ask for help. If a friend calls and says, ďIs there anything I can do to help?Ē say yes! Ask her to watch your kids for an hour or invite yourself over for dinner. At my house, dinnertime is the hardest time to be on my own. Weíve been in the house together all afternoon, and sitting down at the table in the evening feels lonely. So call a friend! Find another mom on her own for the dinner hour and invite her over for spaghetti or take-out pizza. And by all means, donít clean up. Your cluttered house is a gift to her Ė sheíll know sheís not alone.
Keep it positive. Donít fall into the trap of self pity. Whether your husband is traveling or working late, be a part of the decision making process. I meet a lot of bitter, resentful moms. I was one of them for awhile. Sit down with your spouse and negotiate. Rather than feeling victimized, own the decisions you make together. Tell him the truth about how his schedule affects you. Let him know you need breaks and put them on both of your calendars. He canít read your mind, so tell him exactly what you need. Looking at your calendar and seeing dates marked off for a weekend away or lunch with a friend can go a long way toward having a positive attitude.
Find support. Sometimes things fall apart. If you need a break, find one. Donít fall into the trap of yelling at your kids or overeating or drinking after everyone is in bed. Really. Lean into the support you have or create it if you donít have it. There is a better way. Joining a MOPS group is a great first step in reaching out for support!
Have fun. Sit down with your kids and play as much as you can. Remember those days before having kids when you thought about what it would be like to be a mom? You didnít think about the laundry and mopping the floor and vacuuming up goldfish, did you? I know I didnít. Ignore the crunchy floor and sit down and play for awhile. Laugh a lot. Itís good for everybody.