A friend of mine keeps asking me how I handle Joe being gone all of the time so I figured I’d answer her. The truth is I don’t always manage well. There are days like today when I just want to crawl back in bed and sleep until he gets home, but I can’t. Days like this when Elizabeth has been up most of the night and I still had to get up to get Joey to school, I sometimes just want to ignore the day. But I can’t. Although today I think I will break down and take a nap when she does.
So, how do I manage? First, I remind myself he’ll be home, it could be SO much worse. There are so many single parents out there who manage every single day who have no other choice, who have no end in sight. I have the utmost respect for them as I get a taste of what it must be like. But at the end of the day (or week, or month) Joe comes home. Granted some of them probably don’t have a hundred animals to care for, but to me that’s therapy, it’s my release, my quiet time, so…
So I manage by keeping a tight schedule. Up at 7:15 or 7:30, breakfast made, Joey’s clothes are laid out the night before and his backpack is ready to go as well, get him up and eating, do his meds (inhalers), he brushes his teeth, he’s dressed, and he can quietly read or something until the bus comes. If Elizabeth is up she eats breakfast with him and if not I get her up after he leaves.
While he’s gone she and I will do whatever chores are necessary that day, folding laundry, running the vaccuum, empty the dishwasher and play toys. I have learned to not let things pile up. If something needs done I do it, period. If I let one thing go, pretty soon there are a million things piled up. I have had to relax my standards a bit so it’s probably been good for me to some extent. I am fairly OCD and I hate mess, but I have had to learn to trip over the toys to get to the laundry, or leave that layer of dust on the furniture so I can get dinner started. It drives me nuts, but I have learned to take it one thing at a time and not pay attention to the things I simply can’t get to that second, it used to keep me up at night but now I just block it out. The key is to take it one thing at a time, picking up the toys so Elizabeth can get them back out isn’t as important as Joey having clean clothes for school. I use Elizabeth’s nap time to feed and clean any cages that need it or whatever else I need to do that I simply can’t do with her under foot.
After school we pick Joey up (or he rides the bus on Fridays) and when we get home it’s a strict regiment of homework, dinner, dishes, bath, snack, teeth brushed, story read, kids in bed. Period. I don’t deviate from that ever. I’ve even turned down invitations to go to my parents’ house for dinner, or go out to eat or something. The only exceptions are birthdays or school functions.
My kids are in bed by 8 PM without exception and I use the time to unwind in some way whether it be reading a book, watching a TV program I’ve recorded, or taking a bath.
So there you have it, there’s no real big secret really, I don’t do anything spectacular, I simply stick to a routine, for me the routine is the key.