What a Week as a Single Parent Looks Like For Me

Every now and then, my husband will leave for week-long business trips. And it doesn’t matter what I do to prepare myself for them, the weeks always play out the same way.


Accomplishments: Nearly all the things. Laundry is folded and dishes are done before going to bed. Floors are swept, counters cleaned. Blog and social media are tended to, but not dwelled on. Sneak in a workout while the toddler naps. Do a craft with the preschooler.

Mood: Positive. This time will be different. I will stay on top of things this time, so no need to stress. Tolerating the kids like a pro.  Rockin’ this shit.

Phone convo with the husband: “How was your day? Uh huh… mmm hmmm… wow. That sounds stressful. Glad you got in okay!”


Accomplishments:  Drop the boy off at preschool, Starbucks drive through with the toddler, blog post, mingle a little too long on Facebook during nap time, skip doing the dishes but promise myself I’ll stay up a little late tonight to finish them, emails, feed the children one of the 5 meals I shopped and planned for for the week, go to bed a little later than I know I should after playing catchup, wake 5 times that night to soothe the suddenly irritable toddler.

Mood: Truckin’ along. Hangin’ tough.

Phone convo with the husband: “Hey… yeah, I KNOW I have to take the trash out. Got it. What? Nothing. Just tired.”


Accomplishments: Pull my dead body out of bed, make lunches for both the children, manage to brush my teeth AND find a bra before driving them to school, sleep the entire time they are there, shudder at the thought of working out, catch up on emails from bed and the parking lot of school, feed children various things I can pull out of the refrigerator and not have to prepare for dinner (like cold hot dogs), ignore all dirty dishes, pile clean laundry on top of the couch, watch the dog make a bed out of the clean laundry.

Mood: This is crap.

Phone convo with the husband: “Can I call you back later… I sort of hate you right now.”


Accomplishments: Keep everyone alive, return emails from the bathroom while hiding from the children with the door locked, drive through for dinner, drink wine while playing on Facebook and putting off work until midnight.

Mood: Defeated

Phone convo with the husband: “Must be NICE to HAVE to go out to dinner with ADULTS. Must be nice to always get to LEAVE THIS PLACE.”


Accomplishments: NOTHING

Mood:  Fuck it.

Phone convo with the H: “When are you coming home? If you can’t find us when you get here, we’re all lost under the giant mound of laundry and dirty dishes. We’re going out to dinner when you get here. Bring home wine.”

So, that’s where I’m at right now, at the end of another long week. My biggest goal is merely keeping the house free of biohazards (like the cat shit I just cleaned up, a product of being locked in the office all night) and Ebola at this point. Today, my greatest accomplishment will be getting us all dressed, and tonight I will raise a glass of wine to all of you who do this for so much longer than a week at a time, and who keep it together so much better than I do.

Cheers to the freakin’ weekend. 

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  1. Yup. That pretty much sums up every time the husband goes away on duty or for other stuff.
    I figure if we’re all alive by the end of the week, we’ve won.

    It’s funny because I’m finally the one going away next month and he is trying to get his parents to come down while I’m away. HI CHEATER! No fair, dude.

    • EVERY SINGLE TIME I leave for any period of time, M has his parents help him with the kids. When I went to California, my mom came to help him. How in the world is that fair?!

      • Is there any reason you can’t do the same? Makes all the sense in the world to me to get some extra help.

        I gladly go up to my sister-in-laws when her hub goes out of town, but it’s rare that I even know it. No matter how many times I offer, she doesn’t call me to let me know he is traveling again.

  2. My favorite was a few years ago, my daughter was a couple months old and hubby was gone for about a month. I called to vent about the day and was interrupted by him saying “let me call you back, I’m drinking a beer with the guys by the pool” in Vegas. Oh, brother, he got in trouble for that one :O) You can do it!! Just have another glass of wine :O)

  3. This has been my week. Exactly. (Substitute blogging for teaching online classes). Complete with increasingly snippy conversations with DH.

  4. This. Is. It. Seriously, how do single parents do it??? The sheer logistics of trying to put two kids to bed is enough to push me over the edge. The last time my husband was out of town, I would almost have my daughter to sleep in her bed when my son would crack her door and loudly whisper, “Is Avery sleeping yet??” Then she would sit up in the bed and yell, “Close the door, Will!” Back to square one. After this happened for the 5th time, I said screw it, and told them they were sleeping with mom. Then dared my husband to question me about it. There is a reason why it take two people to make a baby. Have a good weekend and try not to throw the kids at your husband too hard when he walks through the door. 🙂

  5. Ha! Yup, sounds about right. I’m actually heading out for the weekend and leaving the boys alone. Mr. actually does suspiciously well while I’m gone though. I suspect he brings in a cleaning crew or ties the kiddo to something. Or takes speed to keep up with him.

  6. Although I am married and I feel the same way when my husband is gone. Right now I’m yelling at the toddler to get out of the frig I’m sure he has poured syrup out everywhere. hah I don’t want to look but he did help himself to some grapes that are now rolling all over the floor. wow that was rambling. A single parent has so much more to deal with like the stress everyday that the kids have no one but you to depend for everything like food money roof over their head health insurance being able to take them to the doctor. Its absolutely horrible to have to leave your kids in the hands of strangers because there no choice but for you to go to work to feed them. And the loneliness of not having that somebody to talk to when you have had a bad day and that someone to care about your kids as much as you do. Single parenting sucks balls not just for the week but every single day. 🙂

  7. LOL dont look at my place *blush* especially my 16 year old sons room.

    It all comes down to planning and knowing when to say F*!$# it. Freezer meals are the easy way to do meals, till you just eat ground beef meals all week because you browned 4lbs and just never managed to put the pre-packed 1lb ziplock bags in the freezer.

    Oh and electronics are great, Emmy had one of Matt’s old game boys from the time she was about a year to keep her busy, moved up to an old iPod touch (that had gone through the washing machine) at 2 – she was a YouTube wiz at 3. Now its Minecraft and the games her brother plays on the XBOX or she reenacts them with her nerf toys.

  8. I handled #1 for 15 months while my husband was in Iraq. Granted, I left the house every work day for some blessed adult time, but still. I had a housekeeper during the week (yea for India!) and I would have sobbed on the couch every night had I not.

    In those 15 months, I never felt nearly as overwhelmed as I feel when he’s out of town now, when I have two kids and no daily housekeeping. Two kids = one child times a gabillion. Child math is different from the other maths.

    • Amen to “child math is different from other maths”! With just one I actually looked forward to that “date night” with my daughter when my hubby went out of town. AND I’d get a project or two done. AND I’d watch some girly movie or multiple reruns of Friends. AND I drank my wine. Now, with two, it’s all I can do to get them sustenance (cold hot dogs for the win!), baths, and bed (Bad Mom Alert: “No stories! Mom’s brains are about to leak out of her ears.”) before I’m falling asleep, wine in hand, to “I’ll be there for you…” zzzz…

      • YES!!! I looked forward to my husband’s poker nights when I had one child. I could get in some alone time and just relax by myself. Now with two, he doesn’t play poker weekly anymore. The last time he asked “When can I go back to my weekly game?” I answered “When our kids can feed, bathe and use the bathroom all on their own. So in, like, twenty years…. if you still want that third child…” He stopped bothering me about having third kid.

  9. Erin Richardson on

    Ugh, I feel ya. Kyle doesn’t get home until bedtime or after EVERY night, and I’m staring to regret begging him to let me quit my job to be a SAHM. WTF was I thinking?

  10. My wife does this to me once or twice a month. I am actually relieved when I get to work for the day, and my job sucks.

    Our conversations are similar but usually involve things like “it was explosive,” “”so much screaming,” “it happened at 3 a.m.,” and “liquor store.” By Thursday she just stops checking in.

  11. I played the single mom game for almost 3 years…It started when my kids were 5, 3 and 1 1/2. I don’t recommend it. EVER! Thank God for a full time job and daycare so I could have a conversation that didn’t deal with bodily functions! We all lived through it even though the house was dirtier than I would’ve liked, there was always laundry/dishes to do and we ate more fast food than I care to admit!

  12. Right now I am “left behind” AGAIN because hubs took a new job in another town. I get to manage the kids, house, try to finish my work from home gig on time, and really try to stay sane – all on my own. And this is the third time in 6 years I have done this. *sigh* Fortunately I have friends that don’t judge me when I ramble due to lack of adult conversation at my house. We move in about a month and thankfully I do not have to pack… but I do have to supervise and coordinate, all while wrangling 3 young children who won’t be in school by that time. My husband thought I was kidding when I told him tearfully over the phone one night that I thought we might need marriage counseling when we got settled in at the new place. I wasn’t. At least not completely. He’s been gone for 2 months and I have a month to go. I.can.do.this.

  13. I met a lady once who came in to watch the grandkids while her DIL was in the hospital. After the first day, she said, “Forget this!” and hired a nanny to come in during the day. Nanny watched the kids, grandmother would clean and cook. Clueless, her son would come home at the end of the day and comment about how well she could juggle everything, and why couldn’t his wife do the same? I think she waited 30 years before she revealed to her son and DIL that she hired some help.

  14. Oh my word you just described my week!…from the garbage reminder call down to the ‘must me nice to eat with adults” comment, none the less get to sleep without the slightest chance of a little one being up during the night.

  15. This is the life of a single parent. I feel your pain and appreciate your sympathy. Some days I wonder if it’s supossed to be this hard. I’m a single mom to a 3 year old, today is his birthday. I work full time. He goes to a wonderful daycare. My house is always in shambles. I have no social life. I take client calls on my back porch (I’m a realtor).
    His dad isn’t in the picture (abusive).
    Most days I’m lucky if I make it through story time at bed with my eyes open. Then just last night he breaks my heart and tells me he’s sad cause he doesn’t have a daddy.
    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one about to be buried alive by clean laundry. :). At least it’s clean right?

  16. Too funny! My husband goes out of town every other week if not more. I have a 4 year old, a 3 year old and an 8 month old. I read him your W/Th/F and he thought I wrote it. It is exactly right, except not only does he get shit for going out to dinner and getting a “break”, but he gets to sleep uninterrupted all night long. It’s such crap! And then he gives me shit when he gets home because the floors are dusty and he has to pile the laundry off the bed in order to sleep.

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  18. Pretty much sums up my life right there! My husband took a new job 6 months ago so I could be a SAHM to our 5, 3, and 3 month old (at the time). He is gone for 2 weeks at a time (home for a week) and by the end of the 2 weeks I’m on my last nerve. We also currently have our home up for sale. Even with 50% less of their toys, the tornadic effect of my children is fierce!

    Cheers! The wine flows heavily around here!

  19. I hear ya! My husband is working nights this week. 8 days this time because he filled in a night for a guy who needed off. This is night 5. I’m actually having chest pains tonight thanks to my 4 year old who kept getting out of bed. It took all I had to not beat her! When my husband called earlier I told him he sucked….and that I might hate him. Tomorrow morning he’ll come home and sleep all day, then get up, mope around and then go to work AGAIN!!!

  20. I just laughed my ass off. That was my exact week. I think I even said some of the things you said verbatim. Especially the “Oh… it must suck to HAVE to go to dinner with adults”.. I also added on “and sleep in a nice comfy hotel room without any chance of a baby having a poop explosion in the middle of the night”…. oh yeah… and I’m pretty sure I said “fuck it” too. Like more than 4 times.

  21. this is laugh-out-loud funny. my daughter is only 4 months old but i live the same crap you do when my husband is away… although fortunately i work only part time, and when i do, i stay at my parent’s house. my retired father baby-sits my daughter, he cooks dinner, makes me a work lunch, does my laundry (and the baby’s), manages her blow-outs and nighttime fussies when i’m tired after work, makes my bed, AND gives me wine. basically all the stuff my husband doesn’t do even when he is in town. for this i am grateful 🙂

  22. Yes– word to the single parents of the world (altho some of them do get to send their children off to the other parent’s house for days at a time; that has always sounded nice!).

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