Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Learning to fly (solo)

This week marks a first for us as a family: Sunday morning, my husband left for a four-day business trip...and so C and I have been flying solo all week. (In case you're wondering whether we're all a bunch of hermits, the answer is no: since C was born two years ago, we've actually had several stretches where I've been away for that length of time, but my husband's job doesn't usually require that he travel. Yes, I know I'm incredibly lucky.)

In any case, I am happy to report that C and I are doing just fine.  However, over the course of the last four days, I've learned a couple of things that I wanted to share for working parents who are entering this unfamiliar territory.

1. Take it easy. We (still) have baskets of clean laundry that need to be folded. Sorry, not a priority this week. (Besides, isn't that why they invented irons?) As long as everyone in the house is clean, well-fed, and well-rested, and we all get where we need to be in a quasi-timely fashion, I've made an executive decision: everything else can wait.

2. Make it easy. C and I loaded up on yummy frozen delights from Whole Foods only hours after my husband left the house. Chaos reigns in our house during the week...and that's on a good day. For better or worse, making dinners from scratch is not in the cards most nights, and certainly not this week. Waffles for dinner? You bet.

3. Make it fun. We've been waiting for months to introduce C to the Play-Doh Fun Factory, and on a whim, I decided to open it. I have no idea why we waited, because C loved it, and we got a good hour of fun in before lunchtime rolled around and it was time to pack up the purple "spaghetti" she'd made. I don't know many things that will entertain a two-year old for twenty minutes, never mind an hour...but believe me, I won't hesitate to let it happen again.

4. Burn the midnight oil. True confession: I am generally one of those people who likes to take my sweet time in the morning. I don't dislike mornings, but I hate rushing in the morning. However, this week I've learned that if we are to have any hope of getting out the door before nine o'clock, and I'm the only parent in the house, I need to do everything the night before: make lunches, iron clothes...even wash my hair. (The whole washing-and-drying hair fiasco just takes too darn long before the natives get restless. Hence, I've embraced the professional ponytail this week.) This whole routine means that I've fallen into bed, exhausted and with wet hair every night this week, but the mornings are SO much easier as a result.

5. Stay in touch. We've made a point to talk on the phone as a family every morning and every evening: C loves it, and has started to hug the phone when she knows that Daddy is calling. (The phone-hugging makes it a little hard to answer said phone, but it's very cute nonetheless.) And of course, my husband and I have made a point to check in with each other, too, with phone calls, emails and text messages. Those little check-ins have made this week fly by, actually: we got an invitation to a party, C used the potty at school (!), and he still needs to pick up his glasses from the eye doctor's.

My husband gets home late tonight, and while I can't wait to see him, I have to say that I'm pretty darn proud of myself for managing so well this week. Parenting milestones are very exciting things...especially when you're on the other side.