As a working parent, I’m lucky to have help during the day with my toddler, but my husband and I generally split the morning and evening duties.
So, when my husband recently was out of town for nine days and ten nights (yes, I was counting), I found it exhausting to handle all of the morning parenting rituals, then work a full day, then handle dinner, cleaning up and bath time.
That is, it was tiring until I hit on a trick for making part-time single parenting a bit more manageable, a tip that is today’s hint: I slept when my toddler slept.
When you’re a new parent, you’re sure to hear the advice “sleep when your baby sleeps.” Since you’re up so much during the night with a sleeping baby, general wisdom is to sleep when your baby does during the day and the night. As a new mom, I found this tactic easier said than done, considering all of the pumping, thank you cards and laundry that needs to get done during the first few months postpartum.
However, I had no problem following this wisdom when I recently was the sole caregiver. While I had visions of staying up after my then 22-month-old daughter fell asleep for the night, watching all of my favorite chick-friendly television shows and movies, I instead listened to my body and went to bed.
Going to bed by 8:30 p.m. enabled me to have the energy to wake up and tackle the next day. Meanwhile, during the weekend I was solo, instead of getting things done during my daughter’s naptime (I figured the dirty dishes could wait), I again listened to my body and napped while my toddler napped.
To be sure, this trick may be harder to do if you have children beyond toddler age who no longer nap or don’t go to bed early.
And if you’re a single parent, you can’t always sleep when your little one is sleeping, though you’ve probably figured out other ways of managing it all, and I have great respect for you. But when you’re not a single parent and not used to handling it all, sleeping when your children sleep can help make the new amount of work a bit more manageable. Plus, it’s cheaper than hiring lots of extra help.
It’s also worth noting that this “sleep when your toddler sleeps” trick is also very helpful even if your significant other is in town, especially if you have a toddler and you just had a second child or you’re pregnant and exhausted, as noted over at the Bellyitch Blog, Imperfectly Natural Mama and the site Baby Bunching.
What are your tricks for managing it all when you’re temporarily the sole caregiver?