On Gingerbread Houses and Solo Parenting

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Chris was away last week for a conference, so when the weekend approached I wanted to have a few activities planned for the kids and I.  In true “it figures” territory, I got a cold that hit me full on the morning that he left.  Actually, when he was packing the night before I had one of those terrible congested sinus headaches, and knowing what would likely come in the morning ran out then to get some cold medicine.   All of that to say that I was aware even before the weekend came that I wouldn’t be firing on all cylinders well Chris was away, so I needed to have a few activity options that didn’t involve me running all around town with both kids.

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One such activity was building a gingerbread house. It was a surprise for both of them.  I set it up on the kitchen table while they were playing in the living room, and then called them and telling them there was a surprise in the kitchen. They were excited and ready to get started.

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 Jayce has built gingerbread houses with other people before: my mom, my sister, his babysitter, etc., but I don’t think Hannah has ever been in on the task.  I was hoping that this year would work well, and luckily it did.  I tried to set myself up for success by having a rooftop aside for Hannah to decorate while Jayce put together the house.   I also grabbed the icing from him for a few minutes to swirl and dot of icing on a few spare cookies for Hannah, and then gave her a variety of candies to stick on the cookies while he worked out the house.  You guys IT WORKED!!   I have great kids, really great kids, but they typically don’t work very well together. Jayce likes everything to be just so, Hannah is a chief antagonist, and it’s often a recipe for disaster. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when everything went smoothly, both kids were happy throughout the process, and my efforts were spent helping with icing and candy and not yelling or breaking up fights.

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Hannah was really proud that she stacked this chocolate chip on top of the marshmallow and demanded that I take a picture of it. 🙂

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 The gingerbread house extravaganza was a major success. But  some of the other things that I had planned to do did not end up happening.  
I had to remind myself repeatedly last week to try not to take on much more than was already required of me.  I’m not the first person to say it and I won’t be the last, but I genuinely don’t understand how single parents do it.  Being the only person responsible for every need, every meal, all cleaning up, every dropping off and picking up from every activity quickly starts to take it’s toll.  That in addition to all of the boring but necessary things that need to be done for two children and one adult meant that I was pretty darn wiped out by the end of the evenings.  So I tried to pace myself/us, because I couldn’t spend the day touring the city and tackling public transportation with two, and then still have enough left for the tedium of dinner, baths, pjs, stories, and clean up for a week.

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Gingerbread House 20Actually I had a small epiphany regarding cleaning up for the week.  There was one night where I came downstairs after wrestling the kids to bed, walked into the kitchen which hadn’t been cleaned up from dinner, and it occurred to me that there was about as much chance of me washing those dishes as there would be if the entire kitchen was filled with dirty dishes.  That is to say, there was no chance I was doing them.  I put away the leftovers, and then left the kitchen and closed the door behind me.  I was not going to beat myself up over what I couldn’t accomplish that night, I was just going to go watch a little tv and relax a bit, and then head to bed. 

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The next morning I woke up, made the kids breakfast and then cleaned up the kitchen, which I was completely undaunted by after a night of sleep.  I also realized later that I had done that plus two loads of laundry, and vacuumed the flat all before 10 am.  It was a funny little exercise that made me realize that I need to take it easy on myself sometimes, and that it’s okay to stop whatever I feel like I “need” to do if my body is telling me that I’m actually just a little too tired, and that everything will be brighter (and easier) in the morning.  Even though I’m not a morning person.
Random, but good.  Whatever works to get you through those long days, right?  

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I love these monkeys more than anything, but they can really wear me out.  Luckily we figured a way to make it work for the week, but we all couldn’t have been happier once Chris got home.

2 thoughts on “On Gingerbread Houses and Solo Parenting

  1. I agree! Being a single parent for any length of time is so hard. My hat goes off to those that do it all the time! My husband is about to go out of town tomorrow, and I have learned the same thing. Pace myself. Put less on my list. Make dinner low maintenance, and I also delegate to my kids more…the older ones anyway. I hope you are feeling better and that your husband is back now!

  2. Lately we have been super busy at home, with my husband getting home superlate after work, and me stressed from work.
    What works for me (with me being responsible for getting the kids from daycare, feeding, bathing, putting to bed, cleanup etc most days) is working ahead and being easy on myself.
    So i try to cook double amounts of meals, so i have something in the fridge for later that week, or cook ahead on a sunday. And even sometimes giving the kids a homecooked meal from the fridge and eating a pizza after the kids are in bed (as long as the kids eat healthy, right?).
    And i try to get easy on myself with cleaning up, sometimes postponing till later that week when i have more energy (just like you did with the dishes).
    Good luck with everything, and the one tip i want to give everyone: when everything is overwhelming, try to take a step back and enjoy your kids instead of trying to get as much done as possible. This way you and your kids are more relaxed and thus you get less tired and in the end get more done (don't for a minute think that i'm an ideal mom who manages to be relaxed and happy all the time though ;-)))

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