It’s Monday morning and you’re starting the week off strong: meals are planned, you’re caught up on laundry and the kids were so excited to get back to school that they skipped out the door to catch the bus. You realize that your Monday success isn’t a fluke when you’re able to balance afternoon activities, homework and dinner time with ease and then your spouse comes home with “news.” You breathe a sigh of relief because it’s not a deployment (this time), but it’s a long enough TDY assignment for you to have to turn on full solo-parenting mode.
We’ve all been there and struggled through at some point, unwilling to lean on our tribe because it’s not a deployment. The truth is, anytime your spouse is away for any period of time, it’s tough. The family balance/routine is disrupted and even the most seasoned spouse can start to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Here are 5 ways you can reach out to support a solo-parenting friend:
1. Wellness check. It’s easy to get lost in our own lives so much that we don’t keep up with how our friends are doing (social media doesn’t quite count). Check in and offer some encouragement—I assure you, those of us with toddlers or tweens are probably not ok (ha!)
2. Hang out and chat. As parents, we love our kids, but sometimes we just need adult contact. Unless you already have a “drop by” relationship, you certainly want to call first, but be the type of friend who ignores the mess and the chaos. Grab a cup of coffee (or a bottle of wine), head on over and be good company while your friend folds laundry, cleans the kitchen or just sits for a moment.
3. Babysit. Breaks are always appreciated. When you’re solo-parenting, your tag-alongs can make even the quickest errand feel like a whole day affair. Offer to keep the kiddos while she strolls the aisles at Target, Starbucks in hand...ALONE.
4. Provide a meal. This one is huge because it takes more than one thing off of the solo-parent’s plate. Bonus points for bringing plates/disposable silverware so clean up is a breeze. Not interested in the extra cooking? Grab their favorite takeout or a gift card to a place they love.
5. Give the gift of groceries. Looking for a way to gift in a practical way? A gift card to Amazon or a store that provides grocery delivery is a tremendous help. Being able to grab groceries from the comfort of your home at your convenience beats packing everyone up for a grocery run any day.
What are some ways you’ve helped out members of your tribe during stretches of solo-parenting?