Does your husband’s crazy schedule leave you feeling like a married single mom? Here’s how you can survive (and thrive!) when you’re solo parenting.
As hard as being a police wife can be when it’s just the two of you, when you start bringing kids into the mix, it gets approximately 1000x crazier.
When your husband is gone all hours of the day and night, has extra long shifts, comes home stressed out and isn’t necessarily as emotional available as you’d like him to be, it can leave you feeling very much like a married single mom.
While the struggles you face are definitely different from those of a mom who’s actually single, your life is still a lot different from the mom who can reliably count down the hours until her husband comes home.
The thing I want you to know above everything else is that you absolutely can have a happy, healthy, thriving family, even when you’re dealing with the craziness of police wife life. It’s just a matter of making things work for you and making sure you’re doing the things that matter most.
Here are some tips and tricks to making the most of your time as a solo parent.
7 Secrets To Survival When You Feel Like A Married Single Mom
Make intentional time trades.
When there’s only so much of you to go around, you can’t do everything. It’s just not possible. You have to pick and choose what’s most important to you – and that often means redefining what’s important and normal. It means making intentional trades.
You don’t have the time or energy to have a spotless house, make healthy meals three times a day, have perfectly well-adjusted and attended to children, and look like a supermodel all the time. It’s just not going to happen, because you’ve only got 24 hours in a day – and you’ve got to sleep at least some of the time 🙂
You’ve just got to choose what’s most important to you. When it comes to cleaning, do you need everything to be 100% clean, down to the baseboards of your house? Or can you make a list of the 5-6 things that are most important to you and just make those a priority each week?
When it comes to meals, is it important to you to make everything from scratch? That’s fine! You can make it happen, especially if you meal plan properly, but if it’s actually not that important to you, remember that no kids have died from a steady diet of chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Toss some fruit or veggies on the side and it’s a balanced meal.
It’s up to you to decide what’s most important to you and your family.
Do what’s right for your family.
Along those lines, it’s super important to keep your eyes on what you’re doing, rather than looking at what other people are doing.
The fact is, their lives are different. Their kids are different. Their husbands are different. THEY are different. So the things that are most important to them are naturally going to be different as well.
And sometimes, this calls for some radical thinking.
For instance, is it truly important to you to have a family dinner at the dinner table? If it is, do it! But if it leaves you stressed out and exhausted every night, maybe you might want to reconsider. If it’s not something you care that much about and you’d rather eat in the living room and watch TV with your kids, who cares?
The point is, you’ve got to do what’s right for you and your family, even if it seems weird to everyone else.
Don’t compare your life or kids to others.
On that note, don’t compare! I know it’s way easier said than done at times, but it’s a must if you’re going to dispel the bitterness that can arise from having a husband who’s gone all the time.
You have to learn to accept that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and there might be times that other people’s good stuff looks way more enticing than yous, but don’t dwell on it – because it’s not true.
And trust me, I get it – when you have that friend who complains because her husband is gone for the weekend on a business trip and your husband’s basically just slept at home for the past week, you might want to smack her in the face. Just remember: everyone’s life is hard in different ways. Try not to get bitter because your hard stuff is her easy stuff.
You also can’t compare your kids to others. When your kids act up, it’s not always a reflection on you. Kids are people, and your input isn’t always 100% related to their output. It’s not like there’s a strict formula for raising awesome kids. We all just do the best we can, and sometimes kids can be little jerks.
Just because your kid is struggling with stuff right now, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.
The less you compare your life to others, the happier you’re going to be.
Oh, sanctimommies. They’re unfortunately everywhere in our digital day and age, and they’re equal-opportunity haters.
Whether it’s because you put your kids in daycare, because you stay at home, because you bottle feed, because you don’t feed your kids organic, because you let your kids watch TV, whatever. There’s any number of things people can judge you on, and trust me when I say it has way more to do with their own insecurities than anything to do with how you’re doing as a parent.
The best thing you can do is to let the stupid crap they say roll off your back. Their opinions truly don’t matter. They’re not paying your bills or offering to help in any way, which means they can suck it.
Again, you’ve got to do what’s right for your family. Don’t let armchair quarterbacks on Facebook make you feel bad about it. You know what they say opinions are like, after all 🙂
Focus on relationship over everything else.
Remember: there’s only so much of you to go around, and your kids are going to remember how you made them feel over everything else.
When you’re determining what time trades to make, make sure that what comes before a clean house or making extra money or whatever is taking care of your childrens’ hearts.
You have a limited amount of time with your kids, time you can’t ever get back – and if focusing on a relationship with them means your dishes pile up a bit, so be it. If you take your kids to McDonalds to play at the playplace and have a good time, focus on that good time and don’t let the guilt of eating fast food get to you – because your relationship with your kids is more valuable than anything.
Their experiences with you and memories of their childhood are going to influence the rest of their lives. While there’s stuff that’s definitely fixable (so don’t get too anxious about making things perfect!), the more time you spend with them, the more you get to know their hearts and nourish their spirits, the better off they’re going to be.
Do what you can to support their relationship with their father.
Again, your kids’ relationships with their parents are going to make all the difference as they grow up. Even though your husband may not be around as often as you all would like him to be, there are still ways to facilitate a relationship between them and their father.
For one thing, speak kindly about your husband in front of your kids. Try to save the complaining for friends who won’t be so heavily influenced by your feelings – because your kids are very in tune and interested in how you’re feeling. They learn from you.
If you’re feeling frustrated, you can say that – because after all, they can tell you’re frustrated even from a young age! But couch it as best you can. Say, “I’m frustrated Daddy isn’t home yet, but I’m glad he’s out saving people.” Or whatever strikes you in the moment. By doing so, you can help them have a better attitude toward the demands of the job.
It’s also a good idea to talk about your husband during the day. Talk about what he could be doing right now, talk about how much he loves them, talk about him when you were dating, everything. Just help them get to know their father as best you can so they have positive feelings toward him when they finally do get to have quality one-on-one time with him!
Even when you’re solo parenting, you can still facilitate a better relationship between your kids and the other parent.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
That whole, “it takes a village” thing? Totally true.
Even though you’re solo parenting, the truth is, you jcan’t do it all on your own. There’s too much to do, and you need time for yourself, too.
Developing a village is vital. If you have family nearby, that’s fairly easy. If not, you’ll have to find friends you can count on, possibly through church or MOPS groups, or get to know some of the other wives in the department. You just need people you can rely on when times for advice, commiseration, celebration, and the occasional hour or two alone.
Even if you just pay for a babysitter once or twice a week (even if you’re a stay-at-home mom) to give you some alone time, it’s a huge benefit to you and your kids (and your husband!) If you’re happy and thriving, your kids will be better for it.
Don’t think it’s selfish to ask for help – it’s necessary.
Remember: don’t think you’re exempt from a happy, thriving family life just because your husband has a non-traditional schedule. There are so many ways to make it work! Even when times get hard, remember: you’ve got this, mama.
- 6 Ways To Deal With Depression When You’re Parenting Alone
- The Reality Of Motherhood As A Police Wife (And How To Cope)
- 5 Reasons Being a Police Wife Has Made Me A Better Mom
- 4 Things To Know About Being A New Mom and a Police Wife At The Same Time