I’m fresh off three days of solo parenting while Chris was out of town. I grumbled a little, but in reality, it was NBD. Four years ago? This would have been a different story. The first time Chris went out of town for a weekend, the Tagalongs were 7m/4m. They were on 4-hour feeds, our handle on James’s reflux was tenuous, and my solo parenting was limited to Sundays when Chris worked. The thought of caring for three babies by myself for more than 8 hours at a time was scary. Doing bedtime by myself? Terrifying.
But we survived, and Chris now goes out of town several weekends a year. A few years ago, he was gone for 2 weeks. And he’s not the only one who’s traveled; I’ve gone on several trips myself, leaving him to deal with the wrath of three tummy humans, I mean solo parent. How do we make it work? These five tips are where the magic happens.
Solo-Parenting Triplets Tip #1: Ask for Help
This is especially important in the infant days—when you’re knee-deep in bottles and diapers and running on sleep-deprived fumes. For Chris’s first out-of-town trip, we made sure I had an extra set of hands for every feed. My mom—God bless her—drove 2 hours in the wee hours of Saturday mornings to be there for the 8 a.m. feed and stayed through the 4 p.m. feed on Sundays before driving another 2 hours home. Text messages and Facebook posts brought other family and friends over to step in for the Friday and Sunday nights feeds. As I got more and more comfortable caring for three babies on my own, having help wasn’t a necessity—but it was (and still is!) very much appreciated.
- Call on family or friends who live nearby. Often, these people want to help, but they don’t know how. This is a perfect opportunity for them to love on you and your littles.
- Hire a babysitter, nanny, or mother’s helper. They can take over baby/kid duty for a few hours while you do housework, grocery shop, shower, or take a nap. You can also make this a “trial” run so you can see if they’re a good fit for your family.
- Think outside the box. Yes, getting out the door to a playdate can sometimes be a lot of work, but time with friends can also be “help.” Your kids are occupied by other kids and new toys or a new environment, and you get some much-needed adult interaction with comrades who are likely to pitch in if you need an extra hand.
(Haven’t taken your triplets out on your own yet? Read our post “How to Leave the House with Triplets” to get tips on going out solo with your trio.)
Solo-Parenting Triplets Tip #2: Stick to your MO.
Are you normally busy? Then stay busy. Hang at home? Then park everyone’s butt at home. You and your kids will already be thrown slightly off-kilter with an MIA parent, so you want to stay as close to your regular routine as possible so everyone thrives—or at least survives.
Our weekends have always been a mix of busy and home-y, so when Chris goes out of town, we follow our usual pattern. Saturday mornings see us out of the house at a local park or community event, while we spend Saturday afternoon doing a craft at home and playing in the backyard. On Sunday, we do church in the morning and then stick close to home again in the afternoon. Grocery shopping and housework happen at some point. This mix provides a good balance that satisfies our (read: my) need to conserve some energy while not going stir crazy—important when you’re outnumbered by energetic tiny humans!
Plan a little something special into the time. When the Tagalongs were tiny toddlers, that meant ducks and donuts. This past weekend, we set up a monster truck mud pit and fairy garden. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but I’ve found that a little treat goes a long way.
Solo-Parenting Triplets Tip #3: Make things easy on yourself.
Do as much prep ahead of time so that all you’re doing is keeping the tiny humans alive and yourself sane. Shop for two weeks’ worth of groceries the week before, or arrange for grocery pickup. Plan simple meals (e.g., PBJ sandwiches, crockpot dinners), or prepare freezer meals you can pop out and heat up. Do the bulk of laundry in the days leading up to your partner’s trip. Put off all cleaning that isn’t absolutely necessary. Yes, these preparations will be more work on the front end, but remember that there will be no one to tag team with you. When your trio goes down for a nap or slides into sweet night slumber, you won’t want to do much more than rest or zone out. Set yourself up to follow that old advice of “sleep when the [babies] sleep” by putting in a little elbow grease ahead of time.
- Life too crazy to fit in prep work? Fall back on Tip #1: ask for help.
- Not feeling it in the kitchen? Save up restaurant gift cards for such a time as this. Family and friends, one of the best gifts you can give a multiples family is restaurant cards! Qualifications: places that are quick and easy to get out of or offer pickup/delivery. Our favorites: Chick Fil A, Red Robin, Applebee’s, pizza, Dunkin Donuts, and Dairy Queen.
- Have something you HAVE to get done? Turn it into a fun activity involving your kiddos.
Solo-Parenting Triplets Tip #4: Build in time for yourself.
Being all the things to all the tiny people all the time is exhausting, so make sure to make you a priority as well. Doing so will help you recover lost energy and keep any feelings of resentment toward your partner (mostly) at bay.
When Chris is gone, Saturday mornings and nights are my zen times. Morning treadmill miles and evening ice cream mountains help me maintain and regain my sanity. The last few times Chris has been gone, I’ve also treated myself to a long soak in the tub—made even better by self-care gifts from a fellow triplet mama friend.
Sometimes, making yourself a priority means enlisting someone else to fill the gaps left by your partner. A friend whose husband travels regularly once told me that she thinks some of her son’s behavioral changes during travel times is due to not having that rough-and-tumble physical relationship fathers and sons share. So, she’s asked close family friends to step up. The change in her son has been noticeable, and it’s lifted a weight from her shoulders at times she’s most needed.
Have you done any solo-parenting with your multiples? If not, we hope this post has given you courage when you might be doubting that it can be done. If so, what other tips can you offer up? Hit us up in the comments below!