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Surviving When You’re Solo Parenting and Pregnant

My husband had uncanny timing when it comes to knocking me up. Every time I was pregnant he (oh-so conveniently) left for awhile because of work.

I can’t blame him, though; he’s in the military, and has to go when and where they tell him to go.

The running joke among military spouses is that your partner will only be around for the conception or the birth.

I’m thankful he’s been around for both, all three times, but I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

I need to note that I fully understand that solo parenting is not like being a single parent. I still have a spouse, who is still very much in our lives; he’s our family’s main income provider, and despite the fact that he’s not physically here, we still make decisions together (as best we can).
Communication is spotty and not consistent, but if there’s something I really need to ask him when it comes to raising our kids (and can wait a few days to hear an answer), I can. I also still have his emotional support; we can talk about my long, exhausting day and he’ll understand. I also know that he’ll be back—there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

What my solo-parenting survival mode looks like:

I’ve learned a few things over the years when it comes to solo parenting, especially when you’re pregnant, but the biggest lesson I’ve discovered is that you have to put yourself in survival mode.

Surviving Meal Time

When it comes to food, home-cooked, organic dishes for every meal would be fantastic (for yourself, your kids, and especially the vulnerable fetus you’re carrying), but let’s be honest: ain’t nobody got the time or energy for that.

You know what you do have time for? Frozen waffles for breakfast, drive-thru for lunch—I’m looking at you Chick-fil-A, and dino nuggets for dinner (God bless Costco for helping me be economical with those nuggets)…maybe with a few green beans thrown on the plate for color (and a pat on the back for giving them some veggies).

Of course that’s not the norm at our house all the time, but I give myself grace—a whole heck of a lot of grace—for the days when it is.

I also sometimes spend a day prepping things to make my life easier…like these oatmeal packets (that I actually have the girls make for me while I “supervise”).

Being pregnant, especially in the first trimester, usually means that you have no idea what you want to eat until you need something (like five minutes ago). I stocked up on a variety of frozen meals (Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls are basically a gift from heaven), frozen pizza, and we are firm believers in creating freezer meals (for the days when I really, really needed some “good,’ non-processed food in my system).

Do What You’ve Gotta Do

Survival mode when you’re solo-parenting and pregnant means maybe letting your kids have a little more screen time than you probably normally would.

I get it: pregnancy is exhausting. Shoot, parenting is exhausting, and it’s basically doubled when you’re also growing another little human inside you.

I felt incredibly guilty letting my kids watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse play on repeat, and having Daniel Tiger babysit my kids while I scrolled Facebook on the couch, but on the flip side, I could rest. 

My kids often played out in the back yard and enjoyed the nice San Diego air, or took advantage of park nearby. I hated the actual process of getting ready to leave the house, but once we were out it did our bodies (and minds) good. 

Let Things Slide

Hormones are high and tempers are short when your pregnant and the only parent around, and I’ve learned to pray that my neighbors turn a deaf ear to the yelling and crying that come out of my house on a daily basis.

I also gave up on actually doing laundry. I washed and dried clothes, of course, but instead of hauling everything upstairs, we started playing a scavenger hunt game with the pile in the laundry room to find whatever we want to wear. (You think I’m kidding…but I’m not.)

As for cooking and cleaning dishes, here’s my biggest tip: invest in paper plates and bowls, and plastic silverware from Costco. You can easily delay actually “doing” the dishes for several days by being able to throw things away.

Ask. For. Help!

Another way to survive this horribly awkward season of life? Ask for help.

It’s scary, and honestly really, really hard (especially if you’re new in town or if you don’t have a close group of friends yet), but it’s a skill that may literally save your sanity.

Find someone reliable to watch your kids. I found someone pretty much the minute I found out I was pregnant, and she was a literal lifesaver. She actually came over one day just so I could take a nap, because I didn’t know how I could function and care for my little people if I didn’t get some shut-eye. It was the best $40 I’ve ever spent.

One day my sitter wasn’t available, and I completely forgot about a doctor’s appointment (because #mombrain…and also, because taking kids to the OBGYN is literally worse than nails on a chalkboard). I ended up finding a reliable stranger from our church’s mom’s FB page and asked her to watch my kids.

I felt so awkward and vulnerable asking, but it turns out that she has kids my girls’ ages, and they got along wonderfully!

What’s your solo-parenting and pregnant survival plan?

Solo parenting, especially while you’re pregnant, doesn’t have to be completely miserable. There are ways to deal with it, and push through until your spouse returns home. 

If you’ve “been there, and done that,” I want to hear about it! Any other tips to help get you survive those long days?


*A version of this post was originally published on October 21, 2016 on the San Diego Mom’s Blog
Photos courtesy of: Brooke Ashley Photography (see more in this post), Jess Kunert Photography, and Dream Light Photography

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