Flying Solo

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

So the fates, after reading my post last week on my to-and-fro travel schedule this year, decided to turn the tables on me. My wife is out this week on business. She now has the business-trip-gift dilemma, and I am reminded of how much more tricky work-family balance is when you don't have a partner.

It has been a fortunate aspect of my life that she hasn't had to travel that much in the past couple of years, and I'm re-learning how to make the transition from tag-team parent to short-term solo operator.

Though it's going to take a few more trips before I really get the hang of this, I'm trying to follow a few basic strategies:


  • Structure, Structure, Structure: Every parent knows that a certain amount of rigidity is needed to keep a household on track. Kids have to be up, fed and out the door at a certain time. Dinner should be somewhat predictable. Bedtimes can't vacillate wildly. And with my wife out, I'm being even more militant about everything from dishwashing to mail sorting. I know that as soon I get off schedule, there will be hell to pay.
  • Make it Special: The kids are already at least a little bored with me, and I'm already a bit more stressed than usual, so I'm trying to make that extra effort to create a unique moment or two. It's a great motivation to show up for school lunch or cuddle in for a school-night episode of Hannah Montana.
  • Simplify: This has not been a week for haute cuisine around the Reid household. We're headed back to the basics, with pasta, tacos and breakfast for dinner on the menu. No use worrying about blanching vegetables when the little ones are ready to eat.
  • Set Aside Personal Time: I haven't been afraid to ping friends and neighbors to help grab a couple of hours for myself. It seems one of the keys to balance is not getting so caught in the work-parent-work-parent cycle that you can't sneak away for some hockey or other escapism, and that's been even more true this week.
  • As usual, I'm curious to hear how you guys do it when you're on your own. And I'm particularly interested in the experiences of single parents, who live with these challenges every day.

    Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

    By Brian Reid |  April 24, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
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    Comments

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    When I'm flying solo, I try to make things as easy as possible. We eat pizza, crockpot meals, or pancakes/turkey bacon/eggs for dinners. I also try to adjust my work schedule so that I can get a workout in somewhere or I'm cranky. And I plan a night out for myself shortly after my husband returns!

    Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 24, 2008 7:09 AM

    Just try to keep things as normal as possible. Of course my parents and my in-laws live within 15 mins so they are a great help when either I or my wife fly solo because of trips. I just did it for 3 days 2 weeks ago and it went smoothly. Except for an occasional cry from a 2yo wanting to know when "mommy" would be home, it went great. But that is, of course, to be expected!

    Posted by: HappyDad | April 24, 2008 7:33 AM

    HappyDad

    "Just try to keep things as normal as possible"

    I agree. Routine & continuity are important for kids. A the same time, this is also a golden opportunity for the parent on house duty to shake up/spice up their lives a bit.

    Posted by: Meow | April 24, 2008 7:57 AM

    When we travel, the other one takes advantage of the opportunity to be completely lazy. When I go away, my husband takes the kids out to McDonald's, where we don't usually eat, and lets the kids roam the playplace; when he goes away, I break out the Spaghettios, then we all curl up and watch cartoons. Luckily, neither one of us tends to have to travel for more than 1-2 days at a time, or we'd all be blimps. :-)

    I'm also lucky that my mom is a block away, because she helps out a lot during travel. She will do dropoff/pickup as much as her schedule allows, so I usually only have to cover one end (just like a normal day). And then we'll walk over for dinner -- the kids love "helping" water the plants or weeding the garden, and we'll all sit around on the screened porch watching them run around until the boy melts down over something stupid, thus signaling bedtime. Then I go home and watch my guilty pleasure shows on the DVR -- you know, the chick stuff that my husband hates. :-)

    Really, I kinda like business trips!

    Posted by: Laura | April 24, 2008 8:08 AM

    Laura, I know what you mean. During my husband's last business trip, I watched (again) several of the Jane Austen movies that were shown on PBS this winter. Heaven! Throw in a steaming mug of tea or a glass of red wine, and I'm a happy camper.

    Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 24, 2008 8:32 AM

    Mrs DandyLion and I don't travel. However, every now and then I'll let her go on a weekend junkette trip. That's when I invite all my party buddies over. (You know girls, your husband's loser friends that he's known since high school that you can't stand) Then we'll drink and smoke and jam heavy metal tunes on the electric guitars all night long or until the beer runs out.

    Posted by: DandyLion | April 24, 2008 8:35 AM

    Things usually are not that different when my husband is away because I do the dinner every night all the time. I shop on Sunday and plan out the meals for the week so it's not a big deal. I get home earlier due to my p/t schedule so I deal with after school activities, homework and dinner solo all the time. I typically make simple things anyway because there just isn't time for much more. Bedtime is the only thing that's different and the kids definitely miss dad then because he always reads to them. I read them an extra chapter and he tries to call at bedtime to check in. I usually get them down a little earlier and then have some peaceful time downstairs. I find I stay up later watching tv shows he would never want to watch, silly I know. I have trouble falling asleep though when he's not home. My house is old and there are a lot of creaks and moans. It's funny because I lived alone for several years before but marriage/kids changes things, I suppose. So, if I stay up later I fall asleep faster.

    I don't really travel for work but that would throw things into a bit of a turmoil in our house because my husband's work schedule is so different. We'd figure it out but it would require more planning and adjusting. I really admire parents who go solo all the time. The weekends are our big tag-time parenting time and my hat is definitely off to all the moms and dads who handle all that on their own week after week.

    Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | April 24, 2008 8:39 AM

    My husband is gone this week. No change in this family whether one of us is here or not...other than the quality of food is way down. The boys idea of a great dinner is quantity, not quality (unless quality is extra spicy).

    Posted by: dotted | April 24, 2008 8:47 AM

    I always ditched fancy food when I was the at-home parent. It makes it special for the kids if you take-out a bit more or eat something they like.

    However I was not vigilant about mail-sorting or dish washing. I KNOW that my husband was not off on his trip washing-up or toughing it out - he was eating out on all those "awful" expense account dinners. There was absolutely no need for me to knock myself keeping the house tidy.

    Once your children are in school then it's all a person should be expected to do to go to work and keep homework and sports going.

    Posted by: RoseG | April 24, 2008 8:53 AM

    I'm not trying to be snarky here, Brian, but Get Real has it pretty much correct. All of my kids know Dad's favorite three word expresession:

    Deal...with...it

    I don't know; maybe it's because I grew up in a house where my father would go away for weeks at a time, up to 14 months at a time. (And Mom would occasionally be gone for a week or two, especially when we were older.) But "flying solo" is just not that big a deal.

    If my wife is gone for a while, it's no biggie. I do most of the cooking anyway, so mealtime doesn't change. (I also do most of the grocery shopping, since I know what we need, so that's not a change either.) It means I do more laundry than normal (we usually split it), but that's not too much of a problem. The rest is making sure that the kids know how to handle it.

    (About the only thing different is that the bathrooms don't get cleaned as often or as well because that's the one chore I truly despise, but now that the kids are older they're responsible for their own bathroom, anyway.)


    Now if your wife is headed off to Iraq or Afghanistan for a year, then you can legitimately whine. Otherwise, stop whining, and deal...with...it.

    Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 24, 2008 8:53 AM

    I'm heading out for business next week, and my inlaws are here to help my husband. His work schedule is much tougher than mine, and I know he needs the help. When he's out of town, nothing much changes, other than the bad movie watching mentioned above! I know it's terrible to say, but it's actually easier for me when he's out of town. It's just less messy and chaotic. I miss him when he's gone, he's a wonderful father, and I wouldn't trade him for the world, but he certainly adds more work to my life. This seems paradoxical, since he actually does help around the house. I guess on the balance his messiness is just no match for his helpfulness.

    Posted by: atb | April 24, 2008 8:57 AM

    I agree with Get Real and Army Brat, but I don't have the experience of long absences of a parent or spouse. So while I can empathize, it's not really in my frame of reference. And when my husband is on a week-long business trip, while certainly manageable, it IS a strain for me. When you're used to parenting as a team, you miss your wing man when he's not there.

    Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 24, 2008 9:00 AM

    Interesting moral compass.

    Not really, but I just thought I'd be the one to say it first today ;-)

    Posted by: Kattoo | April 24, 2008 9:04 AM


    bad parenting? says who? I, as an adult, can not have a drink, smoke, or play music, if I am a parent? My parents certainly did and my parents did a good job. U sound like a nut case.

    Posted by: | April 24, 2008 9:00 AM

    _________

    Probably not a nut csae...he/she just had to really STRETCH to insight (did I use the right form of sight this time?) controversy into the discussion.

    Posted by: Kattoo | April 24, 2008 9:05 AM

    Kattoo- And might I add: Wow. There. It's said. Maybe it won't have to be posted 182 more times today. Wishful thinking...

    Posted by: atb | April 24, 2008 9:08 AM

    And the Oscar for the dullest life on the planets goes to:

    Posted by: SAG | April 24, 2008 9:16 AM

    Do any of you feel put upon when the spouse has missed dinner/bedtime chores intermittently for over 4 weeks now, due to work pressure, illness and other committments? I have brought this up in a "What's Up?" manner and lately as a "If you don't pull your weight, then..." too. Any advice?

    Posted by: | April 24, 2008 9:09 AM

    ________

    Maybe have a real conversation about this--not just a what's up? Followed by your complaints (as legitimate as I'm sure they are). Just bring up your points, then really listen to what your spouse has to say. That should solve things.

    Posted by: Kattoo | April 24, 2008 9:18 AM

    I actually appreciate the "deal with it" commentary. I know that a few days of going shorthanded around the house is nothing compared to what huge numbers of parents deal with every day -- either because of spouses with extended absences or because they're single parents. And that's why I'm so interested in how those families handle it.

    Perhaps the other element that is unique here is that I have an egalitarian marriage ... when it comes to kids, errands, cleaning, etc., things are split pretty evenly. So when one of us disappears, the usual routines are thrown off. I know this isn't standard: there are plenty of families where one partner does 90 percent of the household stuff, so the other partner isn't as missed when he/she is gone.

    Thoughts on that?

    Posted by: Brian Reid | April 24, 2008 9:24 AM

    Some good comments late on yesterday's blog. Frieda also had fathers who were, how can I say, extremely enthusiastic about BF. As we all know, numerous wet diapers during a 24 hour cycle is one indicator that an infant receiving sufficient nutrition. Sometimes she would ask the parents to record this info for a week or two.

    She had one individual who undertook this effort with great alacrity. He weighed the dry diapers individually, not being content assuming an average weight. He tagged each diaper, weighed the used ones and then charted the time, dry wt and full wt. He prepared a full color chart for each day's usage complete with time spent nursing during the period. He had a summary chart of the weekly usage and nursing times.

    I think his name was Army Brat.

    Posted by: Fred | April 24, 2008 9:24 AM

    >>now I'm trying to figure out how to hand duties back over to my husband when he returns.

    Posted by: | April 24, 2008 9:21 AM
    ____________
    I've read articles about that for military families. There's a "re-entry adjustment" when the spouse comes back from active duty. Maybe the military base has some helpful information on how to handle it.

    Posted by: Kattoo | April 24, 2008 9:24 AM

    Brian, my marriage is pretty egalitarian as well, but when one of us is gone, the other one just steps up and does what needs to be done. I don't see what the big deal is.

    Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 9:26 AM

    Brian, my marriage is pretty egalitarian as well, but when one of us is gone, the other one just steps up and does what needs to be done. I don't see what the big deal is.

    Posted by: | April 24, 2008 9:26 AM

    __________________

    It depends on personality. Some people are more adaptable to change than others. So for one person, it's no big deal. For another, it throws everything off kilter. It depends on what your personality is like.

    Posted by: Kattoo | April 24, 2008 9:27 AM

    Acutally things run a little more smoothly when moxiedad is gone. I run a pretty tight ship and moxiedad likes to come home and be mister goodtimes which sometimes throws a wrench into my evening schedule. When dad is out of town, kids are fed promptly at 5:15, read to from 6 to 7:15 and in bed by 7:30. I'm Mrs. Goodtimes at 3:30 and ready to be Mrs. Discipline after dinner. Dad likes to start wrestling matches at 7:15. There is room and a need for both kinds of parents, but I sure like having kids who are in bed on time and rested the next day. Other than that all things are generally the same except for fitting in the call from dad to say goodnight which is imperative.

    Posted by: Moxiemom | April 24, 2008 9:28 AM

    And to add to that comment, it depends on what the kids' personalities are like. I have a neice who was very upset when she was younger and her daddy traveled--which I'm sure was stressful for more sister-in-law. It would have been much easier if her daughter was more relaxed about her daddy's travel--but again, it all depends on personality.

    Posted by: Kattoo | April 24, 2008 9:29 AM

    @9:26 a.m.: I don't doubt that you -- or any of the other posters -- just steps up and deals with it. I'm curious if there's anything you to do ease the process of dealing with it. Or do things run pretty much the same in your household, regardless?

    Posted by: Brian Reid | April 24, 2008 9:29 AM

    Fred, LOL!!! I recently found the breastfeeding chart I religiously kept when my son was first born, and I have concluded that I was insane. (But not as insane as the man who tagged and color charted the output.) I kept stop and start times for each breast, each feeding, how long after the feeding a poop occurred, etc. It appears I spent an average of 14 hours a day nursing that boy for the first month of his life -- he was a lingerer. His motto was nurse early, nurse often, and only sleep for 20-40 minutes at a stretch. Good times. :)

    Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 24, 2008 9:31 AM

    Brian, my marriage is pretty egalitarian as well, but when one of us is gone, the other one just steps up and does what needs to be done. I don't see what the big deal is.

    Posted by: | April 24, 2008 9:26 AM

    Same here. Except for this part from today's blog:

    "It seems one of the keys to balance is not getting so caught in the work-parent-work-parent cycle that you can't sneak away for some hockey or other escapism, and that's been even more true this week."

    Sure, over the long haul, I agree that this is a key to balance and great if you can achieve it. When your spouse is away for 5 - 8 days, though, why would your personal play time even make the priority list? It's just not that hard to defer your personal needs for a mere week. Don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong or improper about ducking out -- I don't see why this would be an essential part of coping with short-term single parenting, though.

    To the humorless trolls overreacting to DandyLion: Haven't you deduced that he posts comments just to see you overreact? You respond like a 4-year old who hasn't figured out how much it amuses her older brother to tweak her for the predictable hysteria. Grow up.

    Posted by: MN | April 24, 2008 9:37 AM

    @9:30 p.m.: I agree. Live and learn.

    Posted by: Brian Reid | April 24, 2008 9:38 AM

    "If you're going to allow anonymous postings, then you need to accept that you're going to get snarky comments. "

    Oh, yeah. Hall Monitor. The comments from the people that are "registered" are NEVER snarky.

    Posted by: Huh? | April 24, 2008 9:41 AM

    MN, read the police reports in the paper. Not all parents are responsible citizens.

    Posted by: | April 24, 2008 9:41 AM

    This is apropros of what? That your kneejerk reaction to DandyLion's tweaks is going to save a child or two?

    Newsflash: being irresponsible isn't against the law. Nor is Dandy irresponsible. He merely likes to laugh at the reaction he can get from the pompous and self-satisfied.

    Posted by: MN | April 24, 2008 9:44 AM

    Hahahahahaha. The fun policewoman is in the house, and the smug gun is being pointed at the hilarious, "well-I-never" responses to DandyLion. Wow. Wow. Only 179 more Wows to go! Come on, copper. Beat me with your self-righteous stick. I can take it.

    Posted by: atb | April 24, 2008 9:47 AM

    WorkingmomX - I did the exact same thing. I was certain that the Baby Whisperer was indeed a baby mystic. I charted that boy's whole stinking day, I think I had an Excel spreadsheet at one point. That first baby is killer! So you were not insane, or at least if you were, you had company!

    Posted by: moxiemom | April 24, 2008 9:50 AM

    Hahahahahaha. The fun policewoman is in the house, and the smug gun is being pointed at the hilarious, "well-I-never" responses to DandyLion. Wow. Wow. Only 179 more Wows to go! Come on, copper. Beat me with your self-righteous stick. I can take it.

    Posted by: atb | April 24, 2008 9:47 AM

    ____________
    Someone asked how I stopped posting for 6-months. This is how...for all the reasons you just mentioned. The snide remarks, and equally snide responses are interesting...they're BORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And have not one thing to deal with balance. If we all actually stuck with the topic, we'd maybe get some advice that would enhance our lives.


    Posted by: kattoo | April 24, 2008 9:51 AM

    Moxiemom, I have to agree. I run a pretty tight ship too and find that I can not only handle, but seem to enjoy when Mr. Get Real is gone for a couple nights in a row. Not that there is any friction with the Mr., but some dads (like my husband and apparently yours) are extremely entertaining and bed time gets pushed back and nothing really gets done. Mr. Get REal is a great dad and husband but he is a bit of a Good Time Charley, I have to lay down the hammer just to get everyone in bed by 9:00 on a school night.

    Posted by: Get Real | April 24, 2008 9:58 AM

    A dandylion is a weed!

    Posted by: Kattoo | April 24, 2008 10:00 AM

    I have to second the idea that part it's just whether you have a routine or not.

    For the first year of my son's life my husband travelled quite a bit. It wasn't really a huge deal at that time although I found I really had to pace myself because I didn't have backup if we were up all night, etc.

    Recently (my son is now almost 3) my husband was away for a mere 4 days for a family funeral across the country and I was frazzled! It was because we've been much more egalitarian and I just wasn't up on his morning routine with our son, which produced "confusion and delays." (If you know where that quote is from, you probably have a train-obsessed child the same age as mine :)).

    Anyways, I did appreciate the time to have one on one with my son. But a lot of it really is, I think, just the change itself.

    Posted by: Shandra | April 24, 2008 10:03 AM

    When I was a child, our biggest crises would hit when my father was in the middle of an ocean for several weeks, a regular occurrence in his job. Basement flooded, tree fell on the house, allergy attacks, car broke down on the highway. I'm impressed how single parents manage not only the every day stuff, but the big stuff. That was always what set our "balance" off.

    Posted by: Fern | April 24, 2008 10:04 AM

    And sleazy, inappropriate comments.
    ---Maybe to you, I think they're humorous

    And producing kids that he can't afford to raise.
    ---They have food, clothing, and shelter. Just because it may not be to your standards doesn't mean he can't afford to raise them.

    And having a lot of needless consumer debt.
    ---So does most of the country. If he is not receiving public assistance, why do you care?

    And begging for money on this blog to pay that debt.
    ---I must have missed that day.


    Posted by: lurker | April 24, 2008 10:07 AM

    Well, it must have been Army Brat's twin brother. It certainly was an engineer!

    WorkingmomX & Moxiemon,

    Recording data on feeding and such is certainly a good tool and sometimes much needed! Recall Frieda's Big Rule, the mom is happy and the baby is thriving. But some people can get a bit anal (pun intended) about the whole poop question!

    Also, note how much of a laugh it gives you now!

    Posted by: Fred | April 24, 2008 10:08 AM

    Fern

    "When I was a child, our biggest crises would hit when my father was in the middle of an ocean for several weeks, a regular occurrence in his job. Basement flooded, tree fell on the house, allergy attacks, car broke down on the highway. I'm impressed how single parents manage not only the every day stuff, but the big stuff. That was always what set our "balance" off. "

    When the going gets tough, the tough get going. It has nothing to do with gender, marital staus, or parenthood. AKA Darwinism takes its course. AKA Water seeks its own level.

    Posted by: What a shocker~ | April 24, 2008 10:11 AM

    @9:26 a.m.: I don't doubt that you -- or any of the other posters -- just steps up and deals with it. I'm curious if there's anything you to do ease the process of dealing with it. Or do things run pretty much the same in your household, regardless?

    Posted by: Brian Reid | April 24, 2008 9:29 AM
    -------------------------

    Brian, we really do just step up and deal with it. Like others have said, the key is sticking to our normal routine. We have dinner at the same time, do our normal evening routine, and have bedtime at the regular time.

    Sure, it's a little more stressful when there is just one of us, so we try to do something a little out of the ordinary to lighten things up, like let the kids pick out a special dessert or something.

    Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 10:12 AM

    anon @ 9:21, beginning with "My husband has been deployed since November,..."

    I've just added you to my list of personal heroes. Sounds like you're doing great. As far as re-including Dad in the house once he came back, I know that it was tough for my Mom, because Dad came back after 13 and later 14 months and changed her routine. I don't know any tricks she used; mostly it was patience and a lot of hard work.

    Fred @ 9:24 (description of insane father weighing wet diapers) "I think his name was Army Brat."

    BWAAAHHH! Fred rocks! (But then we knew that.)

    Kattoo @ 9:27 "Some people are more adaptable to change than others."

    Good point. I'm not sure if it's personality, or background/upbringing, or both. Change has never bothered me, but I do know others who have a big problem with any break in their routine. (A rained out softball game can cause trauma.) No ideas how those people can adjust.

    anon @9:45: "Your kids are old enough to do the laundry."

    Indeed they are, and they're now assigned to help. I know there are others who disagree, but I find it extremely wasteful and inefficient for each person to do his/her own laundry. We have an extra-large washer and dryer. Washing two or three pairs of jeans wastes time and electricity when you could wash ten pairs of jeans at the same time. So somebody washes all ten pairs, regardless of who they belong to.

    To those getting upset about DandyLion, don't forget when he used to post as Fatherof4 and then LilHusky. He's always been this way. His posts aren't serious; he's trying to get a reaction. Lighten up, folks.

    Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 24, 2008 10:13 AM

    Fred, I'd nominate you for POTD, if you weren't already The Decider. :-)

    Moxie, I'm impressed -- who knew that whole "setting the bar low" thing was all an act? :-) But I agree with you about the "help" -- for some reason, my husband's favorite time to instigate tickle fights is 5 minutes before bedtime. So I always end up being bad cop, reminding him that it's calm down time, not "let's get the kids all amped up" time.

    Brian: my advice for managing solo is the same as my advice for a balanced life: drop whatever you can. Really. Focus on the important stuff, not all the details that go along with it. Maybe "normal" is sitting down together at 6:00 for a home-cooked dinner, which takes 30-60 mins. to cook dinner, plus another 15 to clear the table and load the dishwasher. When you don't have an hour for prep and cleanup, you can can accomplish the same thing in 10 minutes with a rotisserie chicken and salad on paper plates.

    The world will not end if the dishes are not loaded every night, or toys are left on the floor overnight. The kids will survive -- might even enjoy -- the occasional McDonald's or pizza. And once or twice my daughter has had to pull a jumper out of the dirty clothes, because, oops, mom forgot to run the laundry. And yet, no one's dropped out of school or gotten addicted to crack yet (well, ok, she's 6).

    Obviously, if your spouse travels regularly or for long periods, you have to work more on keeping up with stuff. But for a few days or a week, it's ok to slack off.

    Posted by: Laura | April 24, 2008 10:13 AM

    Hey, Get Real and others --

    Find another way to make your comments without being negative.

    I've gotten a lot of complaints about the anonymous, off-topic and negative comments. I have a very thick skin -- but I've got a responsibility to delete comments that others find offensive.

    And let me remind you, I'm not perfect, and I cannot possibly please everyone in terms of what I delete and what I don't.

    Be reasonably polite, constructive and on-topic, and your comments will stay. You can still be very opinionated within the Wash Post guidelines.

    Posted by: Leslie | April 24, 2008 10:13 AM

    "Brian, we really do just step up and deal with it. Like others have said, the key is sticking to our normal routine. We have dinner at the same time, do our normal evening routine, and have bedtime at the regular time."

    It depends on your normal routine and the ages of the children. If normally one parent is picking up younger child from daycare while the other is taking older child to activity (music lessons, sports, orthodontist, etc), then the normal routine involves two adults doing something at the same time. Since I haven't yet figured out how to clone myself, then there are adjustments necessary.

    Possible solutions are: carpool with another family with same kid activity, enlist the aid of extended family member or friend, leave work early to get to the daycare early and then take older child, have the older child miss the activity.

    See, that's dealing with it and hopefully provides a little practical advice rather than just saying "deal with it".

    Posted by: anon this time | April 24, 2008 10:19 AM

    What was offensive about my comments? Really, you let so much go that when someone says "suck it up" you start to enforce the rules? Makes absolutely no sense.

    Personally, I think you (or Brian) found my perfectly legitimate opinion offensive, however my opinion (roughly) seems to be pretty widespread.

    Posted by: Get Real | April 24, 2008 10:24 AM

    Leslie, please be easy with the comment zapper. Every now and then I get in the mood to play a good game of "Whack-A-Troll".

    Haven't done it for a while though, maybe the trolls on this blog aren't chalanging enough anymore!

    Posted by: DandyLion | April 24, 2008 10:32 AM

    Posted by: | April 24, 2008 10:26 AM

    Kids are 6 (almost 7, she'd tell you) and 2.5. We all usually get home between 5-5:30; bedtime is 7:30-8 (which is based on when our kids turn into Howling Towers of Terror). Tickle fights invariably start at 7:25-7:55.

    Posted by: Laura | April 24, 2008 10:37 AM

    Re. the "just deal with it" comments, I think we all do, but the interesting part is really *how* we deal with it. It's fun to compare the details of what we do from one family to another. I see today's post in that light, and not just as an excuse to whine.

    In our family, the mornings are rough when my husband is gone since he's the morning person, whereas I have to be pried out of bed :) But, in a strange way, dinner & evening clean-up are much better when he's away. Part of it is that I'm more eneregetic that he is in the evenings, and when he's around, I'm much more easily talked into letting the dishes sit & vegging out together after dinner & bedtime! Plus I've noticed the change in dynamic from when it's 3 people at home (husband, me & kiddo) trying to converse about all the day's events, to a calmer, more focused vibe when it's just me & the kiddo.

    Posted by: anonymama | April 24, 2008 10:47 AM

    Brian, you said you would be interested in hearing from single parents--but I don't know what it is like to parent as part of a pair. I can tell you, though, that there would probably be some me time if I had a husband. I would probably join the choir at church, or get involved in some volunteer things, like Habitat for Humanity. Now my me time is largely limited to after bedtime. Bedtime is at 7:45, though, so that gives me a few hours to myself. It's just that it has to happen in the But it's what I signed up for and what I am used to, so it's fine.

    Posted by: single parent | April 24, 2008 10:49 AM

    OK - makes sense.

    My kids stayed up until 9:00 once they started school and until 10:00 when they hit middle school. Of course, they did tend to snooze when we got home until dinner was ready :).

    Posted by: to Laura | April 24, 2008 10:50 AM

    Posted by: to Laura | April 24, 2008 10:50 AM

    Man, I'd have liked to be your kid -- it wasn't until well into high school when my mom finally let me stay up until 10!! Hated it then -- love it now! Though honestly, it's not really a struggle, since both kids inherited dad's engineer, up-before-the-crack-of-freaking-dawn gene. We tried keeping the older one up a little later, but when her head started spinning 360 degrees, we punted. :-)

    Posted by: Laura | April 24, 2008 11:00 AM

    Laura,

    My late father, the electrical engineer was just like yours! Up at 4:30 or 5 a.m., even on Sunday.

    Well 17 years with him and 3 years of the army never cured me of wanting to stay in bed until 10 am or so!

    Posted by: Fred | April 24, 2008 11:10 AM

    "She had one individual who undertook this effort with great alacrity. He weighed the dry diapers individually, not being content assuming an average weight. He tagged each diaper, weighed the used ones and then charted the time, dry wt and full wt. He prepared a full color chart for each day's usage complete with time spent nursing during the period. He had a summary chart of the weekly usage and nursing times."

    Oh my goodness. This is hilarious. Thanks for sharing.


    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 11:15 AM

    I hardly ever fly solo, but the couple of times that I've done it, I saw it as an opportunity to slack and have fun. We ordered pizza for dinner, played Mario games on the Gamecube, and then watched Disney movies in bed, until we fell asleep. My husband is much more disciplined when it comes to tv time, so the amount of tube time we had felt very naughty and fun. Luckily, he is not away very often. I love tv and could be very easily addicted if left to my own resources.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 11:26 AM

    Fred - your sendup of ArmyBrat is hilarious! I think weighing diapers must be a proud Purdue tradition or something. Disclaimer: I'm not from Purdue or even Big 10, though my son did just receive a 'please apply here' letter from Purdue just yesterday.

    Emily - back when the kids were younger, we would cuddle up and watch Star Wars when my husband was gone. I had forgotten about those fun times.

    Posted by: dotted | April 24, 2008 11:44 AM

    Hahahahahaha. The fun policewoman is in the house, and the smug gun is being pointed at the hilarious, "well-I-never" responses to DandyLion. Wow. Wow. Only 179 more Wows to go! Come on, copper. Beat me with your self-righteous stick. I can take it.

    Posted by: atb | April 24, 2008 9:47 AM

    If a witch shrieks in the forest and no one knows who she's shrieking at, is she still wrong?

    Posted by: yawn | April 24, 2008 11:51 AM

    dotted: "my son did just receive a 'please apply here' letter from Purdue just yesterday"

    Boiler up!

    Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 24, 2008 11:51 AM

    Other than attaching AB's name to it, it is pretty much a true story.

    Beats the hell out of telling you some of the really sad stories that Frieda has seen in some 20 years.

    and BTW that is Purdon't!

    Posted by: Fred | April 24, 2008 11:54 AM

    . . . which produced "confusion and delays" . . .

    But "luckily no one was hurt", right?

    And really, that is pretty much my goal as a parent. Confusion and delay happens-- but as long as no one gets seriously hurt, it is fine. Could even be good for character!

    Posted by: hill mom | April 24, 2008 11:56 AM

    yawn: after just seeing 'spamalot' and the Grail:

    Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she's a witch?
    Peasant 3: Well, she turned me into a newt!

    Posted by: dotted | April 24, 2008 11:57 AM

    Neither of us travel much, but it does throw a wrench in our routine when my husband does, because our son is only in preschool till 3:15 and then with my husband for the rest of the afternoon. So if my husband's gone, that leaves a significant gap in afternoon coverage. I usually cobble something together between taking time off myself, one of my parents helping out, and leaving him at the school for longer, but it makes for a tiring week because the routine is completely off. So it goes - nothing particularly tough compared to others' situations, but I'm still glad it's a rare occasion. :)

    Posted by: LizaBean | April 24, 2008 11:58 AM

    I always wondered how the dads felt when the SAHMs put the kids to bed so early.


    I don't think it is sooo early. My husband and I both think it is important for our children to be well rested. I don't belive that at 5 and 7 they should have to be awakened in the morning. I think children this age should sleep until they have had enough. My husband usually has about 1.5 hours with the kids in the evenings and then lots of time on the weekends. I do think that we have a lot of seriously overtired kids out there.

    Posted by: Moxiemom | April 24, 2008 11:59 AM

    Peasant 3: Well, she turned me into a newt!

    I resemble that remark.

    Posted by: Former Speaker of the House Gingrich | April 24, 2008 12:01 PM

    Well, she turned me into a neuter!

    Posted by: The dog | April 24, 2008 12:06 PM

    Bedtime question - my son does not go to sleep until around 9. It is sometimes 9:30 before he is actually asleep. But he does not wake up until 7:30. I don't think we could actually manage an earlier bedtime, since by the time dinner and bath is over, it is pretty close to 9:00 pm. If I got home earlier, maybe. But then again, my family does not have the early riser gene.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 12:06 PM

    "

    a 'please apply here' letter from Purdue.

    Oh, nothing says 'elite' about a college like a 'please apply here' letter. Now if it had been from Harvard that would be a different matter."

    Let's see now. My Master's degree from Purdon't is in Computer Science and Statistics.

    According to the latest rankings I can find (http://research.unc.edu/pub/oic/library/fac_rank/sthsta.pdf)
    Purdue's Statistics department is ranked number 10 in the country, slightly behind Harvard (#7). Nothing to sneeze about there. (Bad sign - when I was there Purdon't was number 3, behind Stanford and MIT.)

    Computer Science? Let's see - June 2007 Communications of the ACM, Top 50 US computing graduate programs - Purdue is #9. Harvard's #41. (MIT, not surprisingly, is #1.) Software engineering? Purdon't is #17 in the world; darn, don't see Harvard anywhere in the list of the top 50.

    Wanna be a lawyer? Yeah, HU might be for you. Wanna have a real job? Purdon't is certainly on up there.


    Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 24, 2008 12:17 PM

    "but the mothers I know who WOHM have children with later bedtimes and the SAHM have children with earlier bedtimes. I always attributed this to the WOHM wanting to spend time with the kids who they haven't seen for the majority of the day."

    We struggle with this. My son is 3.5 years old and he's pooped by 7. That just seems to be his natural bedtime. He wakes by himself anytime between 6 and 7, usually. I work full time and it does bum me out that I can't have more time with him in the evening, and it's also hard logistically for us (not being the particularly well organized sort) to get a good dinner and bath and bed done that early. But he needs the rest. If he goes to bed later, he doesn't necessarily sleep in any later (and if he does, we're late for work) and so just ends up sleep deprived. It's more important for him to get the sleep he needs to stay healthy, so that's what we do. I have a fair bit of flexibility, so sometimes I come home early to hang out with them and then work at night instead, but I can't always.

    Plus, although I miss having more time with my son, I appreciate the alone time with my husband.

    Posted by: LizaBean | April 24, 2008 12:21 PM

    I have a fascinating moral sliderule and a positively effervescent ethical gyroscope I'm willing to part with.

    Posted by: MaryB | April 24, 2008 12:21 PM

    AB,

    I am glad that you spelled Purdon't correctly once in awhile!

    Fred
    Grandson of a Purdon't Grad

    Posted by: Fred | April 24, 2008 12:27 PM

    Brian -- Get real. You need a couple of hours of "me time" after being on your own for just a few days, so you call on your friends and neighbors? What a soft, pampered pet you are.

    Posted by: pampered pet | April 24, 2008 12:30 PM

    Lizabean - don't forget that the time you spend having dinner and doing a bath IS time together and can be fun and as important as "play" time. You can read to your son when he's in the tub too to kill two birds with one stone, or switch to the hand held shower (this we do in the summer when they MUST shower every day). I can wet down, soap up and clean both kids in less than 10 minutes! A veteran mom told me about the hand held shower, one of the best tips I've ever been given!

    Posted by: Moxiemom | April 24, 2008 12:53 PM

    Lizabean - don't forget that the time you spend having dinner and doing a bath IS time together and can be fun and as important as "play" time. You can read to your son when he's in the tub too to kill two birds with one stone, or switch to the hand held shower (this we do in the summer when they MUST shower every day). I can wet down, soap up and clean both kids in less than 10 minutes! A veteran mom told me about the hand held shower, one of the best tips I've ever been given!

    Posted by: Moxiemom | April 24, 2008 12:53 PM

    "and it's also hard logistically for us (not being the particularly well organized sort) to get a good dinner and bath and bed done that early"

    Does anyone else skip the bath in favor of a 5-minute sponge bath in order to save time? My kids always loved to spend a lot of time playing in the tub and we chose the sponge bath quite a few times.

    Many of you have mentioned sticking with regular routines when a spouse is away. In our house, the regular routine is semi-organized chaos.

    Posted by: I'm ducking | April 24, 2008 1:04 PM

    "In our house, the regular routine is semi-organized chaos."

    LOL, that goes for us as well.

    Moxiemom, I do count the time doing all those things as time together, and we do try to make it fun. But it's still just short, and often feels rushed. Sometimes we skip bath so we can play longer or eat later or whatever, and that helps. So, it's fine, but I often wish I just had an extra hour in there.

    Oh, and my son hates the hand-held shower. It just freaks him out. He's always, since his very first bath, hated getting his head or face wet, and I think the sprayer just feels too uncontrolled to him, despite my best efforts. Now he likes playing in the bath, but washing hair is almost always still an ordeal. So we only do it every other night or so, so that some baths are more enjoyable than others :)

    Posted by: LizaBean | April 24, 2008 1:19 PM

    Because my husband is clergy, he doesn't travel much... but is out at meetings, etc 3 of 5 weeknights. So I am on "single-parent" duty as often as not.

    The hard part is that for some reason, my ADHD son listens to Dad much more than me (we're working on this with a therapist). At the end of a long workday (and long schoolday for him with aftercare) I often find myself yelling. Which causes my teenage daughter to retreat to her room more than usual (or turn the music up louder).

    On the plus side, Dad takes morning duty with son and has no trouble getting him out the door on time (see above). He also deals with tradespeople most of the time since he doesn't have a 9-to-5 schedule.

    Posted by: just me | April 24, 2008 1:23 PM

    "I always attributed this to the WOHM wanting to spend time with the kids who they haven't seen for the majority of the day."

    Nah. Our regular routine is semi-organized chaos, too. We simply aren't sphincter-tightened clock watchers. We'd rather eat at a leisurely pace and chat with the kids and each other than rush, rush, rush onto the next thing on the evening agenda and pack them off to bed. We like them, LOL. Plus, during the summer it doesn't begin to get dark until after 9 or so. There just isn't any earthly reason to hustle home from the pool at 7 so that the kids can eat and go to bed while the sun is blaring on in the window. I respect that others choose differently, and LizaBean's kid(s) are younger. Our choice of bedtimes, though doesn't have squat, to do with whether my spouse or I work outside the home.

    Moxiemom, I believe children should be well-rested as well, but disagree that being woken up necessarily means you didn't get enough rest. Some of us just don't like to get up and wouldn't get up voluntarily for anything but the strongest inducements -- loss of a job, child wandering unsupervised through the neigborhood etc. My son wakes up when he's rested. My daughter could sleep until the bars open. Just sayin'.

    Posted by: MN | April 24, 2008 1:23 PM

    Okay, rebel dad must be the most un-exciting man out there. The gall of that entry. Give me pATRICK, Armybrat, chemguy even fred. But him, no way! He appears to be just boring. Yuck.

    Posted by: lilac | April 24, 2008 1:24 PM

    I hear you Lizabean - my son wouldn't couldn't get his face wet for the longest time. Baths can be interminable especially if you have to do them every day. In the winter, we do baths every other day if they haven't been doing sports or something else that would get them dirty. It can be rushed, but I believe that adequate sleep is as important as adequate nutrition. So, hats off to you!

    Posted by: Moxiemom | April 24, 2008 1:24 PM

    LizaBean: May I suggest buying a pair of good swim googles for your son? My youngest, ironically now a top swimmer in the state, didn't like to get his face wet when he was really little. A pair of well-fitted goggles and away he went...problem solved for us.

    Posted by: dotted | April 24, 2008 1:25 PM

    And, you're not a rebel

    Posted by: lilac | April 24, 2008 1:25 PM

    the bedtime is a struggle for everyone... and esp for those of us whose kids are further apart in age. (DD is nearly 15, DS is 10) The advantage is that once the younger one is in bed you can have some time with the older one. But on the other hand, "bedtime" seems to last all evening.

    Now that she's in HS she pretty much hangs out by herself from dismissal time until bed (she does come down for dinner).

    And since she stays up till 10, it's harder for me and hubby to have couple time during the week, because I go to bed by 10:30 (he is a night owl). Oh well.

    Posted by: just me | April 24, 2008 1:31 PM

    just me: I hear you! Teenagers staying up later than their parents ruin couple time! I'm there too!

    MN: staying asleep until the bars open...another great line!

    Posted by: dotted | April 24, 2008 1:34 PM

    My husband travels a few times a year. Each trip is about 3-5 days long. The hardest part is that I have to get my daughter to day care by 7 am and work through lunch to make up for the time I miss taking her to day care in the morning. She normally doesn't wake up till 7:30 and arrives at day care around 8:15. So an hour and fifteen minutes earlier does make a lot of difference.

    Personally, I wish my daughter would sleep more. But she was diagnosed with a sleep disorder. She goes to bed around 9:30 and falls a sleep around 10PM. She sleeps till around 7:30. I have tried to push her bed time back a bit but it never works. Even with that schedule, she does sometimes wake up in the middle of the night rearing to go.

    On the plus side, we have lots of time with her even though we work. I get her around 5:20 and my husband comes home around 7:30. Each of us has a lot of time with her.

    It will be strange if our son has a normal sleep schedule and wants to go to sleep around 7:30-8:00. We will feel like we never get to see him.

    I also think day care kids stay up later because day cares are big on naps. At my daughter's day care the 5 year olds still nap.

    Since my daughter also goes to preschool, she is weaning from her nap. She loves long (3-4 hour naps) on the weekends. If she does that she goes to bed around 11:30PM and wakes up around 8 AM. We usually do that on Saturdays.

    Posted by: foamgnome | April 24, 2008 1:36 PM

    "And since she stays up till 10, it's harder for me and hubby to have couple time during the week, because I go to bed by 10:30"

    Yep -- which is why my mom was so adamant that I go to bed @ 9 for so many freaking years. She told me that as much as she loved me, she needed some time to herself, too, and since she couldn't stay up past 10, that meant I had to go to bed at 9. I didn't think that was very fair then, but somehow, it makes perfect sense now. :-)

    Unfortunately, our kids' happy early bedtime routine is starting to get tested: the boy seems to collapse at 7:30, but as soon as you get him in his crib, he starts talking/singing/counting to himself and throwing things out of his crib until 8, 8:30, 9 (while STILL waking before 6, dangit!). Meanwhile, his poor older sister is exhausted and ready to crash by 8, so I can't really keep him up much longer or let him get so loud that he keeps her up. I suspect nap is going to go away soon (sigh).

    Posted by: Laura | April 24, 2008 1:43 PM

    "...even fred!"

    What? Are you saying I am unexciting, Lilac?

    Posted by: Fred | April 24, 2008 1:44 PM

    Foamy,
    I do have a vague recollection of my son staying up really late -- when he was in daycare and still took naps. It wasn't until he was weaned off the naps that he began sleeping at a reasonable time. I remember that for a few months during the transition from naps until staying up all day, we were not able to go anywhere in the car in the midafternoon, because it meant he would fall asleep, and then would be up until all hours of the night. Yikes. It seems that neither of my children are turning out to be particular strong sleepers. They both seem to enjoy being awake too much. Even my baby daughter is now just taking 3 naps a day and waking up at 4 am to play. Although I think we now figured out that she may be hungry at 4 am, and that breastmilk is just not filling her up. Last night, my husband gave her rice cereal when she woke up, and she ate it and went right back to sleep. So maybe some protein right before bed will help her make it through the night. We'll see.

    I can't remember when I last slept more than 4 hours straight. I am beginning to feel like the walking dead.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 1:45 PM

    dotted :>)

    I imagine you enjoyed Spamalot. What a blast!

    Posted by: MN | April 24, 2008 1:46 PM

    Oooh, thanks for the suggestion Dotted, I will try that! Moxiemom, thanks, it's definitely what works best with our little guy.

    Sleep and the lack thereof have caused considerable stress in our household in the past- we went through a lot of craziness with sleeping and trying to adjust bedtimes and naptimes and sleeping arrangements, and it's nice that it has settled down. With our son, if he gets in bed around 7, he's usually asleep by about 7:30 and sleeps till 6:30 or 7 (he does still wake in the night sometimes, but usually only once unless he's sick). If he gets in bed around 8, it can take an hour or more for him to fall asleep and he's up at 6. Plus he's a total crab after about 6:45 pm, and a mess by mid-day the next day. He definitely seems to have a sleep schedule that is natural to him (finally), so we're just trying to flow with that.

    Posted by: LizaBean | April 24, 2008 1:48 PM

    Laura - at risk of becoming the sleep expert, you might want to try putting your son down a little earlier (I know it sounds crazy) but maybe he is just getting down late enough that he's getting his second wind? MN - I know nothing of children who won't get up - so I will respect and take your word regarding your daughter.

    Foam - 5 year old nappers? That's something I've never heard of. They must be up all night those kids!

    Posted by: Moxiemom | April 24, 2008 1:50 PM

    I like it when the wife is away.. as a stay-at-home Dad, my wife tends to come in and gum up the works.. don't get me wrong.. I love that she helps out.. but she causes turmoil by bargaining with the kids.. setting limits then changing them.. and basically just being inconsistent...

    When she's away.. we're all a bit less stressed.. and we don't have to walk on eggshells. I guess work takes a lot out of her.. because at home she wears a scowl if anything goes amiss.. and with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old.. things often do.

    Posted by: Davesnot | April 24, 2008 1:54 PM

    I'm lucky in that nvadad doesn't travel very often. But on those rare occasions when he is out of town, I've learned to plan ahead, keep the schedule, and enjoy the nice things about being single for a few days.

    Plan ahead: Clothes for the next day are laid out at bedtime, lunches are packed the night before, meals are planned and shopped for at the beginning of the week or even taken from the freezer, etc. When my youngest was a baby, I even poured the next day's 6-8 bottles before going to sleep at night!

    Keep the schedule: Bedtime, bathtime, waketime, mealtimes are all the same. But I'll throw in an extra playdate or other afternoon activity to keep all 3 of us occupied when I know nvadad won't be home to provide a different face and distraction in the evening.

    Enjoy the nice things about being single: I adore my husband, he's a great dad, and we are largely on the same page re. neatness issues. But there are minor things I like to do differently, like recycling the paper after breakfast instead of after dinner. Not a huge deal, but if I have to "fly solo" for a couple of days I do enjoy having a paperless kitchen table during the day. And, same thing others said about watching TV/movies that he doesn't enjoy. Last time I watched XMen 1 & 2 back to back, and -- in expectation of an upcoming trip -- I recently taped an 80s movie so embarrassing I can't even write about it under a pseudonym!

    Posted by: nvamom | April 24, 2008 1:58 PM

    So for all you folks who have had kids, what's the best method of getting your babies/toddlers to sleep? Do you put them in their roon a la Super Nanny method, and pretty much let them cry it out and let them sooth themselves? I have a hard time with this, emotionally. We did the family bed with my son until he was a toddler, and he nursed until he fell asleep, so it was a pretty easy thing. My daughter is different. She only nurses to eat, not for comfort. Once she is done, she detaches and we end up either rocking her to sleep, or putting her in the stroller and walking around until she falls asleep, or simply holding her and walking until she falls asleep. And she even cries for a few minutes then. But this is exhausting. It is not so bad in the middle of the night nursings, when she is not fully awake and falls back to sleep more easily, but putting her down for the night is very stressful.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 2:00 PM

    Okay, this will sound snarky but...you cannot go one week and do this without help from friends, in-laws, etc.? You cannot go without "me time" once a week? What happens if you face a real challenge?

    I had to travel back to WDC this week...I flew in Monday and left on Wednesday. My daughter is staying with her best friend from school. She had a performance (singing) that I missed Monday evening. She was en route on a field trip to California on Wednesday as I was returning to Arizona, so I had some "me time" last night (I pick her up this evening). "Me time" is very rare indeed, but that is simply life as a single mom with no ex-husband, parents or in-laws to help. But I recognize that I have it much better than a lot of single moms who live in poverty and have multiple children and zero help.

    Right now I am helping a friend whose husband walked out on her and their three children. She is finishing college (she is a part-time student and a was SAHM). Although it looked bad, she is realizing that she has a lot of wonderful things coming her way--her college degree, a new career, and the chance to meet someone who will treat her with the respect she deserves. And she has terrific support from her family.

    It's all relative I suppose.

    Posted by: pepperjade | April 24, 2008 2:16 PM

    Nvamom - c'mon now you've got me wondering. What was it?

    Flashdance
    Pretty in Pink
    Breakfast Club
    Class
    Oxford Blues
    St. Elmos Fire

    Posted by: Moxiemom | April 24, 2008 2:21 PM

    Emily my daughter slept with us until last week, she is four. My son is sleeping with us now. He nurses for both comfort and food. I am not into letting them cry it out either.

    Could you try rocking your baby while you feed her? That used to work for my daughter until she was off the bottle.

    Posted by: Irishgirl | April 24, 2008 2:22 PM

    a 'please apply here' letter from Purdue.

    Oh, nothing says 'elite' about a college like a 'please apply here' letter. Now if it had been from Harvard that would be a different matter.

    Posted by: | April 24, 2008 11:54 AM

    I received many many many many letters from MIT asking me to apply. Is that elite enough for you (didn't apply, in any event).

    Posted by: atlmom | April 24, 2008 2:26 PM

    The Karate Kid
    Mannequin
    Dirty Dancing
    Splash
    Romancing the Stone?

    inquiring minds want to know.

    Posted by: MN | April 24, 2008 2:28 PM

    Oh, emily, I so sympathize. My son also went through a long period where getting him to sleep took a LOT of effort. I didn't like the cry it out method either. We did eventually, when he was about 2.5, let him cry it out when we night weaned and he was still waking up every few hours and needing to be rocked back to sleep.

    Two things that helped with getting him to fall asleep: 1) Sam & Dave's Greatest Hits. When he was an infant, dancing around to Soul Man put him out very reliably and reasonably quickly. We tried all sorts of more traditional lullaby sleeping type music, and then a friend suggested trying something with a good driving bass line, and this is what worked. Not a huge improvement over what you're doing, except for us it was faster.

    2) I got him used to sleeping with me singing a lullaby when he was a little older, then recorded myself singing it and made a CD of that, and played it in his room on repeat as he fell asleep.

    Good luck! As with everything else, do what works for you guys.

    Posted by: LizaBean | April 24, 2008 2:29 PM

    I've never imposed a bedtime on my kids. My theory is that is a child gets enough activity throughout the day, they will get tired and naturally fall asleep on their own. I also pretty much let them fall asleep where ever they want, (not in my spot on the waterbed though) If I notice one asleep on the couch, I'll throw a blanket over them and let them sleep for the night.

    I'm just not into doing the bedtime battle routine!

    Emily, to get the little one to sleep the method I've found that works best for me was to dim the lights in the house before going on a walk with my child so when I returned the house was dark. If my kid still wasn't tired enough to fall asleep a nice warm bath helped a lot.

    Posted by: DandyLion | April 24, 2008 2:34 PM

    Or if that failed, DandyLion just gave the kid some booze.

    Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 2:37 PM

    We do the family bed and that helps a lot. But it may be cultural. We will let both kids stay in the bed till they are ready to leave.

    Like I said, our daughter has a sleep disorder. The only thing that helped her is to give up a nap and go to school 30 hours a week.

    She did nurse for comfort and food when she was a baby. She nursed through the night till 18 months.

    One thing that helped was a good bed time routine and letting them pick out their own bedding. For about a year, she slept by herself in her own bed. When I got pregnant, she moved herself back into our bed. I think she sensed the new baby coming.

    Posted by: foamgnome | April 24, 2008 2:40 PM

    It has been many years since I dealt with being alone while hubby traveled, and when he did, the boys were quite young. The way I coped was to let slide everything that was not essential and I focused totally on what the kids needed--food, clothes, attention, security. If I could work in a load of laundry or do some cleaning or vacuuming, fine. If not, so be it. I did notice that I did not sleep well when he traveled, so it was good for me that I did not work outside of the home then.

    Fred, your description of the dad who weighed, marked, and reweighed diapers was hilarious! My husband, the engineer, would likely have done something like that if we had concerns about fluid intake/output. Really funny!

    Dotted, we introduced our boys to Monty Python movies when they were closing in on adolescence and they were hooked from the start. They still quote entire passages from various movies. We warped them but good,eh?

    MN, you made me laugh out loud (and I am in a cubicle farm!) with "We simply aren't sphincter-tightened clock watchers." I picture what I read. That was a priceless mental image!

    Most people seem somewhat civil today, which is most welcome. I did not dare jump in on yesterday's topic.

    Posted by: Lynne | April 24, 2008 2:45 PM

    My mom always said that one of the most important things parents teach children is how to self-soothe to get themselves to sleep. Every baby is different. Some need to cry, some need a special blanket, some need noise, some need quiet. You just have to figure out what each kid needs. A frustrating but fascinating part of parenthood.

    For the record, in our family, to sleep one kid sucked a thumb, another needed a nook-nook, the third needed nothing. One took 45 minutes of crying for a period of about two weeks. Another used to get out of bed 100 times a night until we put Vaseline on the doorknobs. Two out of three still regularly come into our bed at some point in the night; no big deal.

    I never had the energy to walk a baby around in a stroller or drive around the neighborhood. I don't know how parents deal with that, on top of the stress and exhaustion and everything else.

    Good luck, Emily!

    Posted by: Leslie | April 24, 2008 2:49 PM

    Thanks everyone for the advice. We are doing the family bed also, except this time, we have rigged the crib up as a co-sleeper, next to our bed. We are hoping that this will make it easier for the baby to adjust to sleeping by herself, eventually. My son stayed in our bed until he was four, and even now, sometimes comes in at night, if he has a bad dream or feels lonely.

    Although I really like the closeness of the family bed, I have to say this. I sometimes covet those parents that put their kids to sleep in their own beds at night, and don't see the kids until the next day. It must be nice to have so much time away from kids. I am feeling these days like no matter what, I don't get any peace at all, whether I am at work and someone is calling or emailing or there is some meeting to go to, or when I am at home and the kids or the husband want attention. I do remember feeling this way when my son was little, and I know it's normal to a certain degree, but I had forgotten what a toll it takes. It's like I can't even have a blessed cup of coffee without someone wanting to be on my lap. Thanks for letting me vent.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 2:54 PM

    Moxiemom -- nope, none of those. Since you asked, it's actually Young Guns w Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, & Lou Diamond Phillips. I remember drooling over that movie in high school. Not too surprising my hubby isn't interested in watching it!

    Posted by: nvamom | April 24, 2008 2:58 PM

    I tell you, Emily, night time is one of my favorite times with the kids...since they are asleep, they are not fighting, sassing me, or trying negotiate for a second dessert. They are so sweet when they are asleep!!! But I would give just about anything to be able to read the paper in peace over coffee each morning.

    Posted by: Leslie | April 24, 2008 3:03 PM

    Emily, again, I so totally sympathize. Our son slept in our bed for a while, then in a little toddler bed right next to our bed, then in his own room. I loved having him right next to me when he was an infant, and I still miss waking up all together, even though we still cuddle in the morning, it's not quite the same. But I have to say it made a HUGE difference to us when he started sleeping in his own bed and not waking up on a routine basis.

    I feel like sleep is one of those things that people get really extreme about, like there is only one right answer, but truly, you've got to do what works for you as a family. I hope you find some peace sooner rather than later!

    Posted by: LizaBean | April 24, 2008 3:07 PM

    Leslie, didn't you say your husband wrangles the kids in the morning?

    Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 3:08 PM

    Emily and Leslie,

    Mine are 6 and 10 and I'm still waiting for that cup of coffee I can enjoy in peace in the morning. I'm certain I'll miss this problem some day -- on occasion -- when it no longer happens.

    Posted by: MN | April 24, 2008 3:09 PM

    MN and others - oh, it will happen. Like when they're teens. What was that phrase - "sleep until the bars open?" On the weekends you're lucky if they're up by noon. Drink all the coffee you want. Finish lunch, too.

    Weekdays are another story. The high school bus comes by at 6:30 am. That means getting the kids up starting at 5:45 am. Not fun. I've learned to get up at 5:15 so that breakfast is made, lunch is packed, and I'm ready to go to work before I start the process of getting them up. If I didn't do it that way, I'd spend so much time with the kid-wrangling that I'd never get to work.

    Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 24, 2008 3:15 PM

    Moxiemom,
    Saw all those movies, and even liked them. But to this day, nothing from that time matches Risky Business. I remember seeing that at the beach right after high school graduation, and thinking that I was so grown up.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 3:15 PM

    Time savers: Prepare as much of your breakfast and bag-lunch as you can the night before. Set up the coffeemaker then too, with a timer if possible. Lay out the next day's clothes the night before if you trust the weather forecast.

    Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 3:18 PM

    I'll see you Risky Business and raise you a Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I had forgotten all the f-bombs and rented it for an evening with my son. Oh well, LOL.

    ArmyBrat - 5:15. Gee whiz. When do you have to go to bed in order to get up at 5:15, be a role model, do your job, AND be witty here?

    Posted by: MN | April 24, 2008 3:19 PM

    Moxie -- yeah, that's actually my theory, too (or maybe I just WANT it to be the answer, because it doesn't involve giving up nap!). But I will say, those nights that I have put him down earlier, it hasn't helped. :-( I'm hoping it's a phase, though -- he more than my daughter has had big swings, from sleeping through, to waking up in the middle of the night every. single. night. for. months, to walking to the crib and holding his arms up to be put in. I suspect that he has spoiled us: for almost a year, it's been 30 seconds of rocking and straight into the crib, so we got greedy and figured this was "normal," not just another phase. I think maybe the next thing to try will be a slower bedtime routine to give him a little more time to wind down and transition.

    Emily, I remember going through what you're talking about with both my kids. When my daughter was about 13 months old, I was thinking, shouldn't she be sleeping through the night now? Then an experienced dad told us that he got his kids to sleep through the night by turning off the baby monitor -- amazing how well it worked for us. :-) (of course, not so much with family bed, and there's no way I could have done that with an itty-bitty)

    With my son it was hunger -- the boy literally wanted to eat every 2 hrs. The only thing that helped was rice cereal in the night-night bottle -- the first night we did that, he suddenly slept 4 hrs, and by the time I went back to work @ 12 weeks, he was up to 5-6 at a stretch. Of course, then he got to where he didn't want the boob, because it didn't come with rice cereal in it -- but that's another issue entirely. :-)

    Posted by: Laura | April 24, 2008 3:21 PM

    Try white noise, like an electric fan. Drowns out ambient noises that keep baby awake.

    Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 3:24 PM

    Laura,
    I do think hunger is the reason for my daughter's frequent night wakings. For the first few months, she would just nurse and go right back to sleep, but lately, she has been waking up at around 3 or 4 am, and has not wanted to go back to sleep even after nursing. Rice cereal helped last night. I also think I may try some chicken or some other protein before bed, because it apparently helps stabilize blood sugar so that it does not get too low at night and cause night waking from hunger. We'll see.

    MN - I see your Ferris Buehler's Day Off and raise you a Porky's.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 3:35 PM

    Oh, btw - Leslie - what's a nooky nook? Is it another term for a binky?

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 3:36 PM

    YOung Guns, awesome. I was just thinking about Red Dawn the other day. Gotta see that again. Hey Leslie, good Friday topic, favorite 80's movie or movie star.

    We've never had sleep battles because, I think, we've been incredibly consistent since the beginning. When they know there is little latitude, they won't ask. Now that they are older and it is summer, we may move the bedtime back but still stick to one time so they know what to expect. I think consistency is one of the most important and most difficult parts of parenting.

    Posted by: Moxiemom | April 24, 2008 3:47 PM

    Emily I also heard that if the baby can smell the milk that they are prone to wake up during the night.

    I don't know if this is true or not. Maybe Fred can ask Freida. I like sleeping with my baby so it doesn't really bother me that he still gets up twice a night to eat. However, he does go back to sleep, so Emily, I feel for you.

    Posted by: Irishgirl | April 24, 2008 3:48 PM

    Btw, I thought nooky was what you did to get the baby? My kids wouldn't take pacifiers, so maybe I missed out on a whole thing. Fill me in.

    Posted by: moxiemom | April 24, 2008 4:01 PM

    I like sleeping with my baby

    Just don't roll over on him. Oops.

    Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 4:06 PM

    nookie and nooky are 2 different things!

    Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 4:07 PM

    nookie and nooky are 2 different things!

    Posted by: | April 24, 2008 4:07 PM

    Ahhh, gotcha - thanks, I haven't actually had much cause to "write" using that term so the subtleties of the spelling were lost on me.

    Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 4:10 PM

    Yes, Young Guns. Cute boys with shmutzy faces under cowboy hats, snippy & witty dialogue, and enough Western action to keep it all interesting. Sigh. If nvadad ever ends up doing a lot of travel, I might have to buy the Young Riders DVD set (if it even exists).

    Did I just lose everyone on that one?

    Posted by: nvamom | April 24, 2008 4:28 PM

    Emily,

    How old is she? You said she's not taking bottles well during the day, so it's entirely possible she's hungry at night. That said, by 6 months, if they are eating well during the day, they should be able to make it through the night without a snack.

    Our trick was a consistent bedtime routine, white noise (we have a $15 machine), putting her down while awake, and letting her fuss a bit in the night (ie, turn off the monitor) and learn to sooth herself. At that age, if she woke up and started to really screech, we gave her a binkie (which we're VERY happy she takes), picked her up until she stopped crying, and put her back down and keep our hand on her back until she settled. (The Baby Whisperer, which everyone here ridiculed when I mentioned it while pregnant, was a miracle for us.) When she figured out how to sit on her own, there was a point where we had to hold her down and wait for her to go to sleep. It seems cruel, but she didn't fuss about it. We also swaddled the heck out of her until she was 6 months, when we discovered what she really wanted was to sleep on her stomach.

    This may not work AT ALL for you, especially if she's hungry or you want to keep her in your bed. We very happily put her in a crib in her room at 6 weeks, at which point all 3 of us slept 100% better.

    Posted by: atb | April 24, 2008 4:36 PM

    MN - I see your Ferris Buehler's Day Off and raise you a Porky's.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 3:35 PM

    Emily -- I see your Porky's and raise you a Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

    "All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine."

    Posted by: MN | April 24, 2008 5:11 PM

    I just remembered three classics from the 80s that were actually wonderful films.

    The Return of Martin Guerre (I saw that with my French class and swooned over Gerard Depardieu)

    Sophie's Choice - tear jerker, but fabulous movie

    Terms of Endearment - another tear jerker, but I loved it.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 5:16 PM

    No, Emily, hoi polloi here won't let you be so classy.

    Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 5:20 PM

    Emily - I thought we were talking about semi- to outright- cheesy coming-of-age flicks, LOL . . . but we can move on to the good stuff.

    My all-time favorite 80s flick is Stand By Me with River Phoenix, Jerry O'Connell, Wil Wheaton, Kiefer Sutherland and Corey Feldman.

    River Phoenix. *sigh*

    Posted by: MN | April 24, 2008 5:43 PM

    Emily, I know this is late, but J'ai vue La Retour de Martin Guerre aussi. I loved Gerard Depardieu too although the beheading was pretty awful if I recall correctly. I might be mixing up my French class films.

    Posted by: Moxiemom | April 24, 2008 5:57 PM

    Yes, MN. It did start out as cheesy, but then I remembered some of the good ones too. I LOVED Stand by Me. River Phoenix was such a cutie. It makes me so sad to think of him. His brother just pales in comparison -- although he did a good job as the villain in Gladiator.

    Wonder if my 8 year old is too young to see it.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 6:02 PM

    Moxiemom -- I don't remember the beheading. They actually beheaded him? But that sounds right now. I also saw the remake, with Jodie Foster and Richard Gere, and it was somewhat cheesier, except for one part, when she is on the witness stand and he is trying to get her to admit that he is her husband, and she is denying that he is. The part where he says, how do you know I'm not your husband, and she replies "Because I never loved him the way that I love you." It still makes my heart pound.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 6:06 PM

    So I had to look up hoi polloi in Wikipedia. Never took Greek or Latin. And I have to say - that's not so nice. We are a classy bunch here, even if we did watch Porky's in the '80s.

    BTW, is it just me, or do people actually say things like hoi polloi nowadays. I was thinking it was some kind of Chinese food.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 6:13 PM

    "This may not work AT ALL for you, especially if she's hungry or you want to keep her in your bed. We very happily put her in a crib in her room at 6 weeks, at which point all 3 of us slept 100% better."

    My baby (she's 20 now) slept in a crib in her own room from the first day she came home from the hospital. When I got up for middle-of-the night feedings, I nursed her in a chair in the living room while watching Nick-at-Nite reruns. When she finished nursing, I returned her to her crib. I stopped nursing at 10 weeks and hubby shared middle-of-the night feedings until she slep through the night starting at 4 months of age. I don't know if it was the formula, or if we were just lucky.

    Posted by: anon | April 24, 2008 7:47 PM

    Emily, hope you read this. I finally got my french class films straight. The beheading is from Danton - duh! MN totally sorted it when she talked about Somersby which shamfully, made me weep as well! I have always found it interesting how in the "Olde tymes" people were apparently unable to recognize each other after a year or so!

    Posted by: Moxiemom | April 24, 2008 8:12 PM

    Nook-nook was the name our first daycare center used for a pacifier. The term stuck!

    Posted by: Leslie | April 24, 2008 8:14 PM

    Wonder if my 8 year old is too young to see it.

    Posted by: Emily | April 24, 2008 6:02 PM

    Emily, There's some pretty serious stuff in Stand By Me what with River Phoenix's drunk, physically abusive daddy, the threat posed by Kiefer Sutherland and his teenage gang buddies, Wil Wheaton's disfunctional family, and the fact that the boy's find a dead body. Don't forget, SBM was based on a Stephen King short story, "The Body", LOL. Your 8 year old might be tougher than my 12 year old, but I know my son would be upset by the parenting and bullying in SBM. Maybe another year. I hope soon.

    Oh - and that line from Sommersby? It sends chills up my spine.

    Posted by: MN | April 25, 2008 11:59 AM

    I just scrolled through the comments and I don't believe I saw any single parents chime in. They probably read the blog, rolled their eyes and said "one week, puh-leese, GET. OVER. IT!!" I find it hilarious that you need alone time during that one week.

    I'm an only parent with a 12YO daughter. Father has never been involved--his choice. How do we do it? We just do because no one else will.

    For 10 years I had very little help as my parents lived 300 miles away. Alone time was the time in my car from work to school to pick her up or when I was sleep. She is very well behaved and good in most settings as she had to go virtually everywhere that I went.

    Two years ago, my parents and I left NY and MD and now live a tenth of a mile from each other in NC. I still don't get much alone time, but I do have support. Because they do so much for me during the week taking my child to school and watching her after school, I rarely ask for anything more.

    So, single parents do what they have to do because they have to do it. And we TRY not to be bitter and thoroughly annoyed with the marrieds who have to live that life for a week or so and complain profusely about it......really we do.

    Posted by: onlyparent | April 25, 2008 1:57 PM

    I'm a single dad with half-time custody, and have been going it solo for 8 years. Your advice is all good, though I don't think you need to stress about whether they are bored with you. No need for extra special stuff. Just keep things real. Let them appreciate that you have your own style. A single parent household can be a smooth running machine.

    Posted by: dadshouseblog.com | April 25, 2008 2:06 PM

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