Linda over at Indigo Girl got me thinking about what my version of single parenting looks like. Here she was musing about what she would have to give up if she was a single parent and thought it could fall into one or all of four categories.
1. fun stuff with kids
2. free time/fun stuff for the parent
3. healthy meals/exercise
4. housekeeping/home improvement
In Audrey's almost 4 years of life (four?! how did that happen?!) I have been a single parent who has worked full-time outside the home for almost two years. So honestly I don't have much experience in what it is like to parent in a two parent family. I can only speak to what I feel that I am not fully capable of as a single parent and what sacrifices I might not have to make if I had a partner to help out.
Fun Stuff with Kids
This is the area I hope that I do best at. I want Audrey to have a full and wonderful childhood no matter whether I am a single parent or not. There is no guarantee that I will ever remarry and I don't want to put off doing fun stuff just because I don't have a partner to help. I may have to save up for big trips longer than a two income family, but I would have to do that if I was a stay-at-home mom as well. I do think Audrey occasionally loses out on fun stuff when I am at the end of my rope and just can't take on one more thing. But I don't let being a single parent stop me from doing things like go camping or traveling with Audrey.
Free Time/Fun Stuff for the Parent
Yep, while trying to balance everything this is what I usually give up. I have very little free time just for myself and most of the fun stuff I do includes Audrey. If there is something fun that I want to do by myself then I have to get a babysitter so it had better be worth the extra hassle and cost! To try to make sure I get some free time I get a baby sitter once a week. She shows up at 7:30, puts Audrey to bed at 8:30 and then stays until 10:30. That way Audrey and I are only missing out on one hour of together time once a week. Now it is true that during those three hours I am usually running errands, grocery shopping or working out, but I get to do those things all by myself!! And if I really need to just sit and veg then I can chose to do so at Barnes and Noble or a coffee shop. The other thing I do that has really helped my stress level is to get a massage once every other week. I schedule it for 4 pm that way I can work through lunch that day and go get the massage while Audrey is still in daycare. I so look forward to those massages!!
I hope I do an ok job in the healthy meals area. I don't have the variety in the meal planning that I would like to have, but I do make sure we get veggies/fruits, protein and healthy carbs in every day. I limit the snacks and sweet stuff. I would love to have the time and energy to try new meals and foods, but right now I'm doing good just to get the basics done. I fail miserably where my exercise is concerned, but Audrey gets lots of exercise at daycare during the week. On the weekends I make sure that at least once a day we are doing something physical like swimming, walking around the zoo, dancing in the house or stuff like that. I need to make more of an effort to get my exercise in, but I can't justify putting her in the YMCA child care when she has already spent 9 hours in daycare while I am at work. And our weekend time together is so precious that I feel that I can't do it then either. She is in swimming lessons once a week, so I exercise then and then I usually exercise during the once a week babysitter visits. I just need to make more of an effort to put Audrey in the bike trailer or jogging stroller and get some exercise!
I rent the place I live in so home improvement isn't an issue thank God! I do have quite a few decorating projects that are taking me forever to finish, but I don't consider that a huge issue for me. As for the housekeeping I do my best. I think this is something that parents struggle with whether they are in a two parent home or not because there is always something that needs to be done! My house isn't perfect, I do have a dog and a three year old! But I believe that it is sanitary and safe to live in. Sometimes clean laundry sits in the dryer or basket until it is time to wash more dirty clothes, or dishes will sit in the sink for a couple days, but overall I would rather focus on Audrey and our time together than cleaning!
One thing I do need to change is how much TV Audrey watches. She watches it while I'm getting ready in the morning, when I'm cooking dinner at night and other times too. I try to have her watch educational TV, but it doesn't change that she watches too much TV. Also I need to make more of an effort to eat dinner at the table with her.
I hope this doesn't come off as me whining or looking for sympathy. It was just interesting for me to look at my life and see where I make sacrifices or need to improve. Overall I am happy with how I am managing as a single parent.