Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
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Lessons I learned after solo parenting for 6 weeks!

Jason was gone for 6 weeks on a clinical rotation 3.5+ hours away from January through mid-February. He came home a couple of weekends, but still, it was rough!! Evenings after work 3 days/week by myself making dinner, cleaning up, getting ready for the next day... some long (4-day) weekends with just me and the baby at home! I am SO glad to have him back, but a week plus after we've transitioned back to being a 2-parent household, I'm reflecting on what I learned! (Plus, I'm still able to use these lessons now that he's back--hooray for making parenting feel easier!)

(I know some people have partners who are deployed or away much longer periods of time, or more often, or have more kids! I can't imagine. It is never easy. But I hope my experience is helpful!)

Solo Parenting Lessons

1. Schedule. I think the most important one was using a schedule for naps. Otto is 10 months old now so it's a little easier--I'm not concerned about him being awake longer than an hour like I used to be!

His naps have been so unpredictable (and short) for a long time, but up until around Christmas I was using wake windows instead of a schedule. Now, he is a little better with naps usually, but I am still able to time them which means I can plan activities and seeing friends accordingly.

He wakes up around 7 or 7:30, first nap at 10 (if I'm lucky it's a good one, like 1.5-2 hours), then second nap at 2:30. He also seems to fight naps less, I think it really helps to have it be this predictable! He gets sleepy before them and doesn't fuss much at all when I leave him in his crib for them.

2. Errands/tasks during awake time. How to get anything done: multitask--that is, take care of the baby while running to the grocery store or putting away laundry. It is WAY harder than doing things without the baby, but it's possible. I used to try to time errands, etc. with naps, but now, I may only get 45 minutes to myself once or twice a day during his nap (if it's a rough nap day) and I need that time to be at home so I can make food, check my email, maybe do the tiniest little project.

Lots of babywearing, keeping him happy in the kitchen while I put away dishes... not fun or efficient, but possible!

Plus, he enjoys going out to new places and he's big enough to ride in the cart now, so a trip to Trader Joe's isn't so bad for either of us and keeps him occupied.

However, one other thing I have had to adjust--I used to chain my errands together so I only had to go out to one shopping area once in a weekend, or whatever. Groceries-Target return-pick up eyeglasses-etc. all in one trip. Now, by the time I leave the house with the baby I may only have an hour till his next nap, so it's one or two things, then home again! Gotta have that precious nap time at home!

3. Clean as you go. The only positive thing about Jason being gone was there was less to do with dishes and laundry. Oh, and it was easier to make the bed. (Kidding--SO not worth him being gone!!) I get overwhelmed when the dishwasher is full and there are dishes in the sink and counters, and our kitchen is small so it's pretty hard to work in there with that situation, too. So I tried really hard to stay on top of dishes, trash, laundry, etc.--so much easier to tackle in small amounts.

It was really exhausting to put the baby to bed at 6:45 or 7pm and then be faced with dishes, packing my lunch for the next day, cleaning up a messy table, transferring laundry... it has been a huge relief to have Jason back to help with this stuff, but the only way to lessen that burden when he's not here is to do little bits at a time throughout the evening!

4. TV with baby. This is so minor, but for ages I've felt like I never have time to watch TV--but I figured out I can do it while baby is awake!!! Seriously never occurred to me before. I watched basically the whole Marie Kondo show in between Otto's dinnertime and bedtime, hanging out on the living room floor with him. He plays independently pretty well but likes it when I'm in the room with him, so this way we both have activities keeping us happy during calm evening time.

5. Evening workout or work time. Naps just go by too fast. And without another parent here on the weekends, and while I'm not ready to put Otto in childcare at the rec center where I've been working out, it was really hard for me to get in my physical therapy exercises and/or strength training. Oh, and other work like blog stuff and designing our bathroom and kitchen projects for this year.

With no one else here in the evenings, I was able to use that time between baby bedtime and my bedtime for working out in the living room a few nights a week, and sitting at the computer others. I planned that time on my calendar to alternate with time off nights so I was able to just hang out on the couch some evenings, too! (Tired all the time.)

Again we are SO happy to have Jason back!! But I am still a big fan of this nap schedule and running errands with him while he's awake, cause it's not like I can get much else done then. Hope this was helpful!!

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