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Solo parenting

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For the past few months I have been solo parenting during the week. My husband works in London and to make his long working days more managable he decided that he'd stay there during the week to avoid the daily commute and come home for the weekend. I think it's working really well for him. He gets to concentrate on work during the week without any of the complications of family or the pain of commuting. He also gets some evenings off work to go climbing, see friends or go to a gig or an exhibition opening. All of those pre-children things we used to do without any need to book a babysitter or plan ahead. And then he gets to come home for the weekend to see his children and wife that have really missed him, so he gets spoilt with nice food and lots of cuddles. And usually a lie-in or two.

But does it work well for us? In lots of ways yes it does. I get to be in charge of the routine. The children usually behave a lot better when there's only one parent around (an irritating fact I'd love to fix!) and we are all okay. Yes, I get tired and yes I'd love my husband to be there in the evenings to share things with. And sometimes I'd like to be able to get ready for the day without 3 children trying to help me! But somehow things are kind of easier when I solo parent. I don't rely on anyone else. There are no arguments or grudges about who is or isn't doing what. There's no worry about when he's coming home, or whether he's coming home at all. There's no wasted dinner when work goes on too late. And there's one less person to clear up after. Once the children are in bed I have a peaceful house all to myself to get my excercise, work and pottering about done.

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I really struggled with feeling like this at first. I wanted it to be really difficult in some ways. I wanted to really need my husband to be there. I hated admitted to anyone that it was actually easier than at the weekend when there's two of us. But then one day I cracked and I let me secret out. "Oh yes, the other mother replied, it's always so much easier when my husband is away." And then I told a few more people and they all agreed! So what's all this about then? I love nothing more than when we are all here together and yet at the same time love it when it's just me too!

I think it's a lot to do with routine when you have young children. I'm not a fierce routine mother but I also know that routine does work. Young children love routine. It works for them and it works for me too. Having a routine doesn't always work where there are two adults doing the 'routine.' I think it's also about me focussing on the children in the week and my husband focussing on work. I work too, so it is sometimes really irritating when he is working in the morning but I can't because I've got to do the school run. Or when he's in bed but I can't be because I've got to do the school run. Or when he goes for a drink after work but I can't because I've got three children at home. Take away all those annoying things and things run much more smoothly!

They run more smoothly most of the time. But, some days I get really exhausted. Some nights my children don't sleep. Some days big stuff happens and I don't have my husband there to talk it through with. Sometimes parenting is really hard or it's just completely amazing, and it's really good to be able to talk about all of it with the one person in the world who loves  and cares for your children that crazy amount that you do.

And, while I am often envious of his freedom during the week and the fact he's never woken up in the night, I am the one who is getting a lot of time with the children. I see and hear all the firsts. I have a very close relationship with all my chidlren. I get to go to the park, the bouncy castle, the play dates, the school assemblies. I get to read the bedtime stories and tuck them up in bed at night. I get the hugs, the kisses and the love everyday. And I wouldn't swap all of that for the world.

So, although in many ways solo parenting is easier, there is no way I want this to be a long-term situation. Yes, it may be easier but it doesn't mean it's better. We all miss him. A lot. And I'm not a single-parent because I'm married and I'm doing this together with the man I love. I want the children to be as close to their Dad as they are to me. And I want them to see a Dad that can achieve a good work/life balance. Right now, that can't happen. And that's fine. This is fine, for now. But I can't wait for the day when we can all live together all week long again.

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{Photos of Max who turned 11 months this week and is still the happiest baby I know!}

It's the little things

Book of the week: Monkey and Me