After living in Utah for 10 years, my husband decided a change of scene was needed. After a long job search, he accepted a job in my home state of Washington. You'd think I would have been excited about this decision; it is my home state after all. But no, no. He came home from work, told me he accepted it, and I just told him I needed a minute. He was in shock. How could I not be thrilled that he had done this? The biggest reason?? I was pregnant with twins! I wanted to have twins with MY doctor...in UTAH. But, he took it, moved in with my parents in Washington, and left me---pregnant with twins---and our 16-month-old daughter back in Utah to sell our house and take care of our three dogs and three cats. We were apart for four months.
After living in Washington for 6 months, and living with my parents the whole time, my husband decided he wanted to move back to Utah because he missed his life style there. We decided to purchase a house on short sale until he got a job in Utah. We would remodel the house, and sell it for more than we bought it for, but have a house of our own in the meantime. We finally closed on the house in March of 2016. In June, my husband accepted a job in Nevada (he figured it was closer to Utah than Washington), and our house was not even close to being done. Thankfully, they let him push back his start date to August so we could try and complete the house. By the time he left, there were still 100+ things on my to-do list to finish the house. EEEEEEEEKKKKKKK. That's 100+ things I would have to finish on my own, with a 3-year-old toddler, and 14-month-old twins. Do I recommend this? Absolutely not. It is now October, our house is FINALLY done, and I'm just waiting for the house to sell before we can join my husband again. So, how exactly do you function as a normal human being when you are left as a single-mother to several small children? (And let's pray you don't also have to remodel a house on your own.)
- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. I cannot emphasize this enough. So read it again. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. If you don't, you will lose every single piece of sanity you have. Literally. Your ability to think straight, remember anything...basically anything besides sleep...will be gone. How on earth are you going to take care of your children if that happens? Seriously, this is number one. I love exercise. If I don't get a run in, I am a horrible mother. Remember the little things you love to do; the things that make you happy, and find time once a day to do one of them. If you have to get a babysitter to do something for you, do it. It's basically a life or death command. Do it, or you won't survive.
- Meal plan. Two words you may think only exist for moms who successfully duplicate every pin on Pinterest, but not in this case. About seven times a day, several little faces will look at you and demand food. If you don't have a solution to this problem, screaming will pursue, and your ability to come up with anything substantial for those little mouths will cease to exist. You'll be putting them to bed realizing you gave them goldfish and tootsie rolls all day, and literally never fed them anything that has any nutritional value. Let alone, YOU never ate ANYTHING because you thought, "well, that's not super healthy, I need to make something good." And then it happens the next day, and the next day, and then all of a sudden, your children are the pickiest eaters, and you have no idea why, and you have lost all of your energy and sanity. Meal plan. Snack plan. Always have a few five minute recipes you can use on days when life is just too crazy like some fruit and a sandwich. Try to pick ingredients you can use for several recipes, so you don't have to visit the grocery store with all your kids as often, and meal plan, meal plan, meal plan.
- Have a schedule. A schedule will keep you sane. Find activities that keep your kids engaged and busy, plan times for meals, and time for you. This doesn't have to be an intricate hour by hour schedule, but have focus and goals for your day. If you have something to get up for in the morning, something your kids are looking forward to, you'll feel more like a human being than a single overworked, tired mom. And it never hurts to have something the children want to do, so they have more motivation for listening to you. :) Plus, you'll have less days you just stay in pajamas and hang out in the house all day.
- Make them laugh. I cannot tell you how many days just passed me by because I wanted the house to be done so we could get reunited with my husband faster. I just kept working and working on the house, ignoring my children more than I should, and the whole day was gone. We didn't do anything fun, I'm not sure I even spent a moment loving my kids, and it was already time for bed. So, before you put those sweet children in bed, make them laugh. Spend an extra few minutes getting them in bed, and end the day laughing and smiling. If you do this every night, there will never be a day that passes that you didn't make your kid smile.
- Cut your kids a little slack (but not too much that they forget how to act like decent human beings). My kids know when their dad is gone. Sometimes they act out more, sometimes they get so mad at you for nothing, and sometimes they are just being completely irrational. And I swear it's because they miss their dad. It is completely irregular behavior for them. I get to the end of the day, and I'm pretty sure all I've done is put my oldest kid in time-out for constantly not listening. And you know what? I shouldn't be joining their chaos. I should help them get through this. It's not easy on me, why should it be any easier on them?
- And lastly, do the best you can do. If that ends up being an eating-goldfish/staying in pajamas-all-day kind of day then that's what you gotta do. You're doing a good job mom. Hang in there.
If you can remember these six things, I promise you will feel more sane, more human, more like YOU while trying to juggle everything else that is expected of you. Just love yourself and love your kids, and eventually, you'll be reunited with your love, and it will be a glorious day.