This post is sponsored by The Breastfeeding Shop.
It’s pretty much a given that, at some point, your service member will deploy, go on TDY, or be gone for specific training when you have children. This usually leaves the other spouse alone to care for and parent the children. Many spouses in the military community often refer to this as “solo-parenting.”
Solo-parenting is different than single parenting because of one very important thing: Support. While solo parents are doing it on their own, they often still have the emotional and financial support of a spouse that single parents don’t always have. But even though solo parents have support, doing it alone can still be tiring, stressful, and a bit hectic.
Here are some gadgets, gizmos, and guidance that can make solo parenting easier on you to maintain a calmer, more organized and functional household:
A crockpot and meal planning
There are many sizes of crockpots out there, so be sure to find one that is large enough to cook for a family of your size. You can prep meals before your service member leaves so you can simply thaw a bag of food in your fridge the night before and dump it into a crockpot in the morning.
If a crockpot isn’t your thing, you can always try quick and easy meals, some of which can be made in one pot. Meal prepping either with crockpot ideas or easy meals can save extra trips to the store so you don’t have to lug the kids around for only one or two things.
A good baby carrier that is comfortable
Being alone with a fussy baby is tough. There are so many things the solo parent will need to do and leaving a baby in a swing or bouncer is not always enough. Consider purchasing some sort of baby carrier that is comfortable for you to use. Today, there are so many variations from ring slings and woven wraps, to soft, structured carriers and hiking packs. If you can find a babywearing group in your area, they can let you try on different carriers to see what works best for you. Then you can strap the baby to you while you fold and put away laundry, run the vacuum, mop the floor, wash the dishes, or even shopping and other outings.
Consider sharing a room with baby
If you have a young baby (or may deliver your baby while your service member is gone), you may want to consider a bassinet, pack and play, or co-sleeper in your room. It can make breastfeeding easier having baby close by and it often makes new parents more comfortable to have their baby near them.
Set up changing stations if you have multiple kids in diapers
Kids need their diapers changed often and it isn’t always wise to leave one (or more) unattended to change another. Consider setting up a changing area on the main living area of your home. You can even stash a changing pad, diapers and wipes in a small box under your couch if you’re short on space. I keep an old diaper box in a corner stocked with wipes, diaper cream, and diapers.
Consider a cleaning company
If you have multiple children, especially younger ones that require supervision, it might be hard to keep up with cleaning all rooms of your house. Find a good cleaning company in your area and let them come once or twice a month to do the big stuff. Then, all you need to do is simple easy cleaning the rest of the month. Once your kids are in bed, you can wipe up the day’s messes on your own.
Pick up your groceries at the curb or have them delivered
If you aren’t big on commissary shopping and prefer shopping on the economy, check out if your local grocer has an online option to pick up your groceries at the curb or have them delivered to your front door. Walmart is one store frequently found throughout the US that might be able to help you.
If you can’t find a local store that will do it, Amazon now has Amazon Fresh, which will deliver whatever groceries you choose to your door. You can also “subscribe and save” to receive bulk items in the mail. Imagine not having to leave your home to get diapers, wipes, and other items you regularly use.
In case of emergency, break out the tablet (or kids’ movie or favorite show)
When you’re solo-parenting, you may find you need a midday break for a few minutes to grab some lunch or settle your head from the bustle. If your kids are like mine, they don’t nap and it makes those quiet moments harder to come by. Consider breaking out a tablet when you just need those 20 minutes of peace. You could also turn on a favorite movie or show.
Lean on others
Call up your friends and organize play dates. You don’t even need to send your kids to someone else’s house. Invite your friend and her kids over and let the kids run in the yard or set them loose in a play room. The kids have a chance to entertain each other (hopefully with minimal fighting) and you have some time for adult conversation. Smuggle in a tasty treat of your choice. Alcohol is optional, but I highly recommend at least one small cocktail.
You can also plan for outings with your kids. Hit up a zoo, children’s museum, or park and rope in your friends and their kids to join you. Some extra hands can make it easier and other kids can help keep yours contained.
Wine, chocolate, and Netflix
At the end of each day, remember to take care of you! Doing it alone can be exhausting and thankless, but it feels nice to reward yourself. Have a piece of chocolate once your kids are in bed. Unwind with a glass of wine. Turn on a Netflix movie. Do whatever helps you come down from the day and take care of you.
The Breastfeeding Shop provides name-brand, high-quality breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies. Catering to the military community, the Breastfeeding Shop’s quick and easy service ensures that TRICARE beneficiaries can receive breast pumps and supplies at no-cost to them.
By Sarah Peachey