Solo Parenting

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Family packing luggage in trunk of carIn today’s global world, employees are frequently being asked to work away from home sometimes for a few days and often for weeks or months at a time. This may be part of a contractual obligation for employment or a necessity to remain employed. Many employees will accept a job thousands of miles from home in order to work in their field or earn a higher income. Regardless of the reasons for this, the challenges it can create among couples and in families are vast. How do couples not only manage to stay connected, but also effectively co-parent, when one parent is not even living in the family home full-time?

The difficulties this creates can ebb and flow based on the time away from home, the number of children, and their ages. At times, the parent left behind will feel like a single parent and if they are a working parent too, the challenges can be even greater. Fortunately, if there is a routine interval to the time away it can be easier to plan as a two week out/two week home cycle is predictable, and depending on family circumstance may be more manageable.

How can this work well for your family?

  • Resist the temptation to be the “fun parent” whenever you are at home.
  • Recognize that as the travelling parent you may have had all your meals prepared for you. Your partner may prefer a meal away from home while you are looking to have a home cooked meal. Try to assume the cooking responsibilities when you are home.
  • Resist the temptation to drop laundry at your doorstep!
  • Do you have the financial resources to hire some help? Can you pay a neighbor to cut the grass or clear the driveway so that this does not have to be done on your home time; it would also ensure it these chores are not one of the many things left behind for your partner.
  • Organization is critical and everyone including the children needs to participate. Set rules and enforce them; create charts so everyone knows what needs to be done.

For the parent that stays home with the family:

  • Recognize that working away from home is not a party. It is easy to resent your partner’s freedom away from home. The away parent may likewise be resentful of the time you spend with the children or feel guilty about the time away from the kids, and the impact on your spousal relationship.
  • Make sure the school and daycare are aware of the situation. Imagine your child telling a teacher that daddy or mommy lives in another city only to have that parent try to pick them up on a day when they are back home.
  • It is critical that you remain connected as a couple. Find time to have parent time and resist the guilt that comes with time away from your children.
  • Technology affords far more connectedness now and with FaceTime and Skype, the away parent is no longer a stranger.

Like many things in life this can be a challenge but it can also be rewarding. Solo parenting may provide you family with greater financial security and give your children a sense of responsibility, but at the end it is most important to remain connected as a family and ultimately as a couple.

By Julie Hayes


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