... of sanity, that is!
Dan has traveled a lot this summer. Like, a lot a lot.
Which leaves me home alone with the kids. Alone. A lot. Like, a lot a lot. It wouldn't be so bad, except our youngest is kind of a handful, especially in the late afternoons and evenings - which happens to be the same time our oldest is also home. (He's at his kindergarten's summer program during the day.) She still isn't consistently sleeping through the night (although it's much better than it was). She cries a lot. She's really needy. And then there's the 5-year-old, who is great, but also... you know, a 5-year-old. There are meals to prepare, clothes to wash, the apartment to clean, kids to keep alive, all while not completely losing it. There are bodily fluids and smeared snacks all over the place it seems. There's crying - and not just from the kids. There are missed showers and crack-mom ponytails.
My parents are not nearby this summer, and all of my friends here are also mommies of small kids, and facing the same struggles I am.
This has left me feeling pretty lonely and overwhelmed at times this summer.
And yet, we're surviving.
So, here are my 5 "Momming on The Edge" tips, if you find yourself in a similar situation.
When my 11 month-old has made a complete mess of herself and the highchair, I stick them both in the shower. Together. I hose down the highchair, plop her out, bathe her, badda-bing, badda-boom, they're both clean. She gets a kick out of it, it's quicker than getting out her baby bath, and the high chair is ready for the next day, too. I'm calling this a win!
2. Easy Meals
I cook. I cook well. My husband cooks better, and does most of the cooking. So when he is out of town, I try to make it as easy on myself as possible. Here are some of my go-to meals, feel free to steal them - 1) spaghetti (enough for leftovers), 2) thicken up some of the remaining sauce (that's in the jar, not made into Bolognese) with some tomato paste, buy toppings and cheese and a pre-made pizza dough - pizza night!!! 3) boneless/skinless chicken breasts and a Patak's simmer sauce - butter or peanut chicken! 4) My kid prefers raw veggies to cooked - score!!! Wash, chop, serve, done! 5) Hot dogs. Done and done. 6) since my son gets a multi-course, nutritional meal at kindergarten, some nights we just have sandwiches - and you know what? He loves it. No need to make it harder than it needs to be.
3. Go Out Or Stay In
Whichever is easier. Don't feel pressure to do something every day, unless that's what you want to do, and it's easier for you. For us, some days it's easier to head into the center, and let the baby take a nap in the stroller, and hope I can get a hot coffee in before she wakes up. Other days I binge watch on Netflix. It's called balance, and I'm here for it.
4. It's Okay To Admit Defeat
One of the Saturdays I was alone, I headed into the city center with the kids. I had grand ideas for the day that included a playground, fun lunch, and adorable "I can do this" selfies. Jocie wouldn't fall asleep as I planned, but I sat down at a cafe for a coffee anyway. Aidan was on a fish statue/jungle gym thingy right next to me. Jocie was screaming at me for a snack, and Aidan was asking if he could have an ice cream, and I was so overwhelmed, I knocked my coffee into my lap, after only getting one sip. (see first picture) I let Aidan get his ice cream, paid for everything, got up, and scrapped the plans I had for the rest of the day. I looked at Aidan and said, "I am wet, uncomfortable and embarrassed. We're gonna head home now." So, we bought sandwiches, went home, changed into jammies (it was like 11 am), watched TV and called it a day. But the kids were alive, they were fed, and actually pretty excited to just hang out at home. So... yeah. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat, and be okay with it.
5. Loosen Up With the Rules
We're kind of sticklers about bedtime. But when it's just me, and I'm trying to get the baby to sleep, I'm not getting hung up on what time Aidan goes to bed. It's never later than 8:30 anyway, and it's summer, so... I'm giving myself a break on that one. He wants a snack, even though he just ate? Fine, whatever, here's some pop corn. Jocie doesn't want to lay down long enough for a diaper change AND clothes? Fine, chill in a diaper. It's hot anyway. You want a donut after school? You promise not to whine about taking a shower if I get you one? Super, the donut's all yours.
This obviously does not reflect our normal, everyday routine. But, in an effort to all be alive and well when Dan gets home, these are some of the coping skills we've picked up.
The point is, if you're at a place in your life where getting by and surviving equals winning, stop beating yourself up about it. Today, after we got Aidan a donut after school, he said "this is the best day ever"! It's clearly not "the best day ever", but to his mind it is, because mommy was happy, and he had icing dripping off his fingers.
So, if you find yourself "momming on the edge" today, know you're not alone, and this too shall pass.