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Surviving as a Single Parent (of 5): Help Has Left the Building

My dear husband has packed up his bags and headed off for a two week-long work conference across the country. And here I stand, mere days into this solo parenting stint with our five children in tow. While this is hardly my first rodeo, I feel I have some wisdom I can impart to any other anxious parents readying for a separation.

Here are my top tips for surviving with the crew for an extended stretch:

Stock up on snacks and coffee. You will need constant refueling and caffeine to keep the energy going. Buy in bulk.

Set a loose schedule and low expectations. There’s no need to keep up with the usual routine. Do whatever makes you happy in the moment. Make each day an adventure.

Outsource when you can. Don’t hesitate to ask relatives, neighbors, coaches, grandparents, school friends, etc. to pick up the slack. Bribes and cash payments may be required.

Ask your kids for help. Some kids, especially older ones, will be capable of helping out with chores, childcare, meals, activities and more. Make a chart assigning each child responsibilities to help lighten the load. Teamwork will make the dream work.

Get deliveries for all meals. No meal preparation should be required. Order in every day from whatever restaurants remain open and able to deliver to your location. Quantity is priority.

Take breaks when work is done. Declare screen time, do nothing time, read a book time and enforce it for at least a few hours each day. You need moments to recharge too.

Finally, try to find moments of humor and joy during this challenging time. This too shall pass. Help will return! In the meantime, survive however you must. Chin up! The cavalry is coming.

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