10 Lessons on Solo Parenting
My husband and I have been living apart for most of the past two years. He’s not in the military, but he has been “deployed.” He’s a catastrophe insurance adjuster, and spends weeks to months helping people in the aftermath of a natural disaster. We will be joining him and traveling as a family beginning next month.
This means that I’ve been mostly solo parenting for a while. I’ve greatly enjoyed this time of growth as a wife, mother, and teacher. Here are 10 lessons on solo parenting and homeschooling:
- You can’t do this without the Lord.
I guess you could do a version of this life without the Lord, but I couldn’t make it through some days without the strength of the Lord. His strength was all I had on the incredibly tough days.
- You must take time for yourself.
Young children require so much hands-on care that it’s easy to forget to take care of you. I had to carve out time for myself in order to love them well. I made four things a priority–reading my Bible, prayer, rest, and a daily retreat. I wasn’t perfect, but when I didn’t attend to these things, we all suffered.
- Make time for community and church.
Getting three kids out the door is a battle in itself. However, if you don’t fight this battle, you’re going to burn out. You all need community, and you all need church. Make this a rare miss. Start with church, and build out from there. Don’t be afraid to drop school for a park day. It’s good for the soul.
- Be careful to not overextend yourself with activities.
You are the only one here to drive, cook, plan, pack, wash, dry, fold, remember, discipline, teach, kiss boo-boos, and more. You are giving MORE in this season; don’t overdo the commitments because something will give eventually.
- Make your marriage a priority.
I sometimes found myself irritated that my husband would call at inconvenient times. I had to remind myself, “This is still a marriage. I’m still his wife. He needs me even when he’s not here.” Honor and respect your position of being a wife. It’s your most important, under child of God.
- Be disciplined.
A recent study says kids are 800% worse for their mothers. It’s fact. Children are SAFE with you. That’s why God gave them a mother–a place of safety. Live by the fruits of the Spirit.
Learn that kids blow up. Use fewer words. Walk away. Read the Bible to them every day. Set boundaries and pour out the grace. They will test you. Don’t be surprised. Show them how to live as He showed you how to live.
- Get good at “five things” routines.
Even if this solo-parenting thing is temporary, you owe it to yourself and your children to treat your role as mother, teacher and wife as a profession. Invest in your routines. They don’t have to be elaborate, but you and your kids (especially your kids) need to know what to expect.
We have a “do five things” routine a few times per day. In the morning, we dress, potty, brush teeth, eat and do one chore. Then, we start school. We knock out five subjects: Bible, history or science, reading, writing, and math. Then, we eat lunch and read aloud.
I try to knock out “five things” in the house in the afternoons (laundry away, cleaning a specific room, dishes, dinner prep, and checking our bank account). We do “five things” for bedtime too – “dress, potty, teeth, dirty clothes, clothes for tomorrow.” It’s easy to say, “Go do your five things.”
- Delight in your children.
You’re going to be tired. You might be cranky. You might not want to do this mama thing today. I’ve even told my kids, “I’m not my best today.” However, they don’t need that every day. That needs to be a rare statement.
They need to know you delight in being with them. Don’t snap. Don’t look at them as an intrusion on your attention or time. Let the sweet and funny things they say be your fuel. I promise these days go faster than you think.
- Eat simple dinners at the table.
This has been one of the best parts of my two years in solo parenting. It’s a time of stories, laughs, and often Daddy on speakerphone or FaceTime. We gather. That’s important, even if we’re eating breakfast for dinner–again.
- Adopt a Scripture for this time. My go-to verse was Psalm 37:3-4:
- Trust in the Lord (it starts here).
- Do good (It’s what He commands).
- Dwell in the land (Don’t try to change your circumstances. You were born for such a time as this).
- Feed on His faithfulness (Make your faith life a priority).
- Delight yourself also in the LORD (Own your position. You are worthy.).
- He shall give you the desires of your heart (Keep your heart on His plan and it will go well for you).
If you find yourself a solo parent for a time or all the time, take heart. God’s got this!
Amanda Brandon is a daughter of the King, wife, homeschool mother and writer. She writes about professional motherhood, homeschooling, and living as a woman of promise at AWorkofGod.com.