If your wife travels for work - like mine does upon occasion - you’re bound to find yourself taking over sole parenting duties for a few days. And while there are plenty who think dads can’t handle it, I believe the exact opposite. In fact, I find it challenging, fun, and the perfect opportunity for my son and I to spend additional time together that we normally don’t have.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t difficulties or exhaustion ahead. However, with a little bit of planning, we’ve got daddy/son week ready to go.
Here’s how we plan to make everything run smoothly.
Stay on Schedule
Kids (like adults) are creatures of habit. Knowing what to expect and understanding their environment helps keep them calm and comfortable. We have a standard bedtime routine each night, so our little guys knows what’s coming and it helps get him unwind and get prepared for bed. Same goes with mealtime and his afternoon schedule. He knows what to expect, and makes it easier on everyone. With one parent away, children can sense or know (if they’re old enough) that there’s something slightly different at home.
Keeping to a normal schedule helps everyone know how to approach the day, keeps expectations even, and gives everyone some comfort in knowing what to do. Keeping a routine is vital for us on a normal day, when mom (or dad) is away it’s even more important to keep the house flowing smoothly.
If you’ve got a picky eater - like we do - then you know dinner can sometimes be a battle of epic proportions. So plan ahead. We’ve got a “pretty good” handle on what our little guy will eat. I use quotes because it seems to change without warning or advance notice frequently. That being said, my wife has made a stockpile of foods and items that we’ve put in the freezer that I can pull out and warm up. Not only does it save time but it also allows us to have foods ready that we know he’ll like. It helps keep his routine intact and allows us to know that he’ll be getting nutritious foods and actually eat.
Head Out on an Adventure
If mom is gone for multiple nights, then one night out may be just what everyone needs. We have a favorite local pizza joint that’s fantastic for kids and has a great atmosphere for a dad and kids night out. It’s a fantastic chance to spend some time alone with the kids and treat them to an exciting time. I always have a blast and he loves the change of scenery and to watch all the action. I love the chance to spend some time with him and enjoy a little pizza and a beer. If going out to dinner is a bit much, then try a little time before dinner at a local park, a walk around the block, a trip to get some froyo or ice cream. It’s not so much about the destination but getting out of the house and enjoying some time together and enjoying the adventure of the experience.
Staying in touch while on the road can be tough. Time zones, bedtimes, and work in between can make it difficult. However, technology these days has made it significantly easier to connect. FaceTime and Skype allow you to see each other face to face, which is amazing. We recently took our first trip without baby and each night used FaceTime to call grandma and grandpa to check in with our little guy. He barely noticed we were gone. A quick wave hello and he was off playing again. It clearly was more for us than him, but at the very least it allowed us to see each other face to face for a few minutes before bedtime. We’ll use the same technique when mom is away.
If that’s not a possibility you can always record mom (or dad) reading a story and play it before bedtime. Or you can find one of those books that allows you to record yourself reading it (like these) and then plays back as you turn the pages. Something that helps keep them connected to you while your gone can go a long way to helping ease fears or calm emotions.
For us, staying on point with our schedule and routine is paramount to a happy household. That way everyone knows exactly what’s expected of them and there are (hopefully) few surprises. To be honest, it’s going to be a lot harder on mom to be away than it will be on us. Nothing beats being at home each night with your family. In fact, we’re already looking forward to having her back home and being able to share dinner together again.
How do you help keep your home running smoothly when one parent is away? Share your tips below!
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