While Dad’s Away…
by Linda De Carvalho
Time clicks slowly while dad’s away, especially if he is gone for an extended period of time. Days, weeks, months, and years without dad can make life difficult for the family. Alone as head of the household, mom is left to meet the needs of her children, pay the bills, do the shopping, and possibly find work.
Although this sounds like a tall order, there are single parents who accomplish these feats every day. Of course, that doesn’t make the struggle any easier. Running things at home as a single parent is a challenge and you’ll need all the help you can get. Here are some things to consider as you take on this huge responsibility:
- Be the rock. If you find yourself alone raising the kids without dad, it’s important to remember that they need to feel secure. Having a solid foundation under their feet is critical. If they know you will always be there, they will be better prepared to weather any storm. Find ways to show the kids that they are not alone. Whenever possible, show up at practice or the big game. Or send a note in their lunch to be found and read later in the day. Tell them how much you love them, how much they mean to you, and that you will always be there.
- Accept the challenge and make a list. Like it or not, you have a big job to do and you will need to be in the right frame of mind to get it done. No one expects perfection in life’s daily arena, so just do the best you can. Start with making a list of all the things that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, and so on. Keep the list handy so you can refer to it often. If you are a techie, create the list on your smart phone, and if you need to, set alarms to remind you of the tasks.
- Get help! Rally together family and friends to lend a hand when you need it most. Kids can be especially helpful for small jobs around the house like emptying the trash, sweeping the floor, folding clothes, etc. You can also find local and online resources to help you with finances, support groups, and more. For example, here are a couple of websites to check out that provide lots of resources: Building Families Together and this government website.
- Keep the lines of communications open. If you don’t already do this, begin holding a family meeting weekly. Bring the kids together to talk about their needs and how you and their siblings can help. After all, you are all in this together and you will need to keep a united front to support each other in any way possible. And don’t just talk about problems. Maybe invite each family member to bring a new joke to each meeting to loosen up any tensions. Use meeting time to discuss how the family can have fun together or plan a fun activity during the meeting that they can all participate in like playing a game or making cookies.
- Keep the family busy. Children will feel a void while dad’s away and will appreciate and benefit from activities that are fun and teach them something at the same time. Encourage the kids to play sports or sign up them up at your local parks and recreation center for other activities that help reinforce the values of working together and teamwork.
Above all, be good to yourself! Stay away from negative people who can make your journey harder. You’ll be happier and better off finding positive folks to share ideas and a cup of coffee. Finally, don’t expect too much from yourself on any given day.