Like many other moms out there, I have a husband who travels a lot for work. He is often gone for three or four day stretches and sometimes up to two weeks. It averages out to about 1-2 weeks every month. I have learned how to survive with the kids when he is gone, but I am going to let you in on the secret of how I thrive when he’s away – teamwork!
Co-parenting with friends and neighbors is not a new idea. In fact, it is thousands of years old. Communities across the globe have used the, “it takes a village” mentality to raise children who were parented by many adults.
Modern day “villages” look a little bit different. As a working mom, my support is given to me through friends at work, online groups and text messages late at night with friends. But the truth is that when it comes to the day in and day out logistics of parenting, I am doing that all myself when my husband is gone. That’s where co-parenting with friends and neighbors comes in.
While my husband travels for work and I am at home with the kids, it can be very busy. Scheduling a play date may sound like the worst thing I could possibly do. However, in my experience, when I invite friends over who have kids, the kids (usually) all play nicely together. I get to sit with a glass of wine and enjoy a few minutes of adult conversation with a friend. When my kids were really young, my friend would come over and play with the kids while I got to take a shower. Alone. For 10 glorious minutes!
In the last month alone, I have watched my neighbor’s kids while their mom ran out to do an errand, gone to the beach with another friend whose spouse was traveling, and had up to six kids on my couch at once on a rainy afternoon to watch a movie. I have sent my kids next door so I could run to town quickly without the chaos of bringing two kids. I have given out countless packs of Pirate Booty to snack on and have had two pizza and wine nights with a girlfriend at my house during the school week.
When there are people coming over, it gives you something to look forward to. Change in the routine is a good break from the monotony of parenting little kids. I often try to set it up so it’s about half way through the travel – right when I need a pick me up.
Teamwork in parenting takes a bit of planning, but what doesn’t? It’s totally worth it to have a familiar face come over and hang out. The kids benefit from playing together, and the parents get to relax a bit and enjoy some down time. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
So the next time you find yourself doing some solo parenting, invite a friend and kid(s) over for a simple dinner or play date. Meet up at the park or take the kids for a bike ride while you run with a friend. You will all be better off and your spouse will be home before you know it!