Sometimes I parent better when I'm separated from my husband. Not separated separated. Sometimes, my husband travels for work.
Sometimes, my husband travels for work, and I am used to being a part of a parenting team. I spend all day with our kids whether we're visiting a historical site, watching history in the making, or hanging out at home. There is a point every day where I realize my husband will be home from work, and I will be about to tag out for a moment even if it's to make dinner for the family or go to the bathroom. For some reason, once this occurs to me, I sometimes become unreasonable when my husband has to unexpectedly work late or he loses track of time. I cannot believe that he has not kept to our little plan. He realizes I can sometimes be like this so he tries to manage my expectations. We win most days, we lose some.
But when he has to travel, I find my patience for everything expands well beyond what my normal patience levels are. I can handle our energetic toddler rousing at 5:30 a.m., skipping a nap and going to bed at 10 o'clock. In fact, recently, I solo parented (that's what we call it around here), for two weeks while my husband was away. I call it that realizing that at the end of his travel, I'll have help and a shoulder to laugh or cry on.
Often when my husband travels I cannot reach him over the phone to talk to him. And sometimes we are not able to email each other either. So when I'm exhausted, questioning my parenting or just looking for someone to share a funny story with I can't reach out to my normal teammate.
The kids and I always take a day or two to adjust. The kids usually become more attached to me than usual because they think if they let me out of their site I might go away for a while too. I recognize this and I am usually prepared for a few extra tantrums, a few extra requests, a messier house and three people in the bathroom while I pee, shower or try to hide.
When my husband is home, we do a lot of what we call "tagging" in and out and "switching" which child we're attending to. I like my husband to have one on one time with each of the children (and so does he), but there are only a few hours at night where we're all home and not eating dinner. We always eat dinner as a family, Ash gives Noah a bath, and now that Maya is bigger, I bring Maya in after it's underway and let her take a bath with her brother. The four of us laugh as the baby kicks water around, and then I swoop her out and Noah finishes his bath. It works for us. Then I put the baby to bed while Ash and Noah tell stories and eat Noah's bed time snack of granola cereal. After the baby is sleeping, Ash and I switch and he either sits in the room with her or holds her while I read a few extra stories to Noah and then hang out until he falls asleep. It's a team effort, but since we know my husband may have travel here or there for a night or a week or two, we're set up so we can make small adjustments to the routine without having catostrauphic results.
It works for us.
Sometimes, I think I parent better when I am the only person responsible for what is happening. Why can't I parent like that all the time? I know the responsibility is shared, but what is it about the day-to-day that I always think I deserve to tag out? There's not a difference between the activities we do when my husband travels verses when he's home. The biggest difference is the way I think and feel about things.
Lately, I've adjusted my attitude to not think of the end of my work day as the second my husband gets home. Once he's home the house, the food, the kids and the ways in which we choose to handle those things are a joint responsibility, but I've been working on the attitude I have about it. It took me parenting alone for two weeks without his help (physically or emotionally) to understand how I could change myself.
I look forward to my husband walking in the door every day. And I know sometimes, we didn't used to wait to bombard him with things to do and all of our ideas until he had his shoes off. I've never handed him the kids as he's walked in the door, but I think sometimes I didn't recognize how overwhelming the chaos of home can be as soon as you walk in the door. We're happy, loud, grumpy, rowdy, tired, laughing and all kinds of things at any given moment. I've been trying to make a better effort of letting him come in, get used to the family and then I hand the kids off and take 10 minutes to pee because I can.
Disclaimer: Single parents are the bomb. I think happy amazing thoughts for them every day. I respect moms and dads that do all the parenting on their own without someone to cheer them on, thank them, listen to them or help them.