The longest I’d ever gone watching my two adorable little knee biters was a “day” perhaps. The need for quotations was that my wife eventually came home at some point within that 24 hour period. So, how did I fair when she left for a 3 day excursion on the east coast to attend a wedding? Better than I thought it would at least.
I’m sure all the single parents out there are just going to snicker at me because they are super-parents that somehow do this every day, by themselves, and I give you guys the most thunderous standing ovation I can give. Maybe even a slow clap.
3:45 AM, I gave my wife a kiss as she walked out the door, told her to be safe on the drive to the airport and to text me when she was getting on the plane. I turned around, looked up the steps and my 4 year old son was standing at the top of the stairs. He had that wild look in his eyes where he didn’t know if it was time to get up or if he was still tired and should get his butt back in bed. When he asked where Mommy was going, I had to remind him that she was going on her trip and would be back in 3 days.
He cried his eyes out for the next hour.
It took a quick episode of some TV show to get him to calm down and shuffle him back to bed. I knew that I would be in for a long day since at 6:30 I’d be getting up when my daughter wakes up, so my two hours of glorious sleep was eagerly taken. By the time mid-morning rolled around we were in full gear for a normal day in my houshold on the weekend. Even though it was only thursday, I was in a Saturday morning mindset where my wife gets to sleep in, so after oatmeal for everyone I decided to circumvent the ban my wife placed on certain TV shows and be that dad that let their kids watch something Mom didn’t approve of.
I know, it’s old school characters getting wailed on and blown up comedy that we all grew up with. While I agree that violence isn’t something that our kids should be watching, it’s friggin Looney Toons. So as I sat there with my 4 year old and 2 year old watching the show I took a certain enjoyment watching my oldest laugh his ass off to everything. EVERYTHING. Every smack to the face, falling piano, explosion and falling off long cliffs. He. Laughed. His. Ass. Off. I was so proud. My daughter chuckled mostly, but I think it was mostly because he typically copies her brothers reaction to things. By the time Lunch rolled around, and my mother in law made a quick stop by to apparently make sure I wasn’t crying to myself in the corner while the kids paraded around with a pigs head on a stick I got them down for a easy nap.
I will say this, the best way to make your late afternoon go smoothly and ensure that the whole dinner/bath/clam the hell down time/JUST GO TO SLEEP time is a smooth transition you can try this. Long walks yes, I suggest you force marching your kids outside for a long period of time. Ok, My son rode his bike (on training wheels still, that’s another story) and pulled my daughter in the wagon we had until we got to the bike/walking trail near our house and got her to walk. 2.4 miles, a hour and a half later (thanks Runtastic app!) I had to kids that just wanted to eat and sleep. Woo! Just slapped a Papa Johns take and bake pizza, gave them some rainbow shertbert, tried not to gouge my eyes out with one of their half hour shows and it was easy peasy bedtime after I read them Green Eggs and Ham.
Here are my notes on how day 2 started
- Both kids woke up at 6am
- WHINING COMMENCEMENT OF DEEP HUNGER
- Whining while I cooked breakfast
- Whining while I served them breakfast, and AFTER their insatiable need for hunger
- 2 hours later, MAKE THE WHINING STOP, please CROM
- It’s 10am and they have destroyed my soul
- THEY SLEEP @ 1pm
So what did I do after they woke up from their nap? Convinced them (easily) that a walk/bike ride on the trail would be super awesome fun! 2.4 miles later and they were back under my iron grip and authoritative control. Then, I had to do something I’ve never done before.
I gave them both a bath. At the same time.
Usually, my wife is watching the other kid as I give one a bath and we rotate the kids until both are squeaky clean. So attempting this my plan was to throw in a whole bunch of the bath toys to keep them occupied while I tried to clean their filthy faces. (Dinner was a little bit messy) Giving two kids an overabundance of toys is a bad idea. Bad. Idea. I’ll never understand how if one kid finds something to play with the other is immediately content to want to play with that EXACT SAME THING that their sibling possesses. Nothing else matters, they could have a whole frigging toy box at their feet, but if someone is playing with a rubber duck, the world is going to end if they can’t get their hands on that damn duck.
I now hate rubber ducks.
After nearly 3 accidental deaths (one of them standing and slipping in the tub, a near eye gouging of the water faucet, and me wanting to beat my head against the side of the tub) I somehow managed to get them clean enough, and dripping water all over the bathroom floor as I went to grab towels. To where they both were like that one dog you had after you give it a bath and it rolled around in the grass/mud they ran naked away from me to roll on the carpet and grab toys screaming at that high pitch that is so cute for the first 5 seconds then eardrum splitting after 2 minutes. I will say that once toweled off, I did another first, I brushed my daughters hair.
I have never brushed long hair I realized. My wife always just did it for our daughter because well, it just became our system. So my first comb through, she squealed in pain. How the hell does hair get so tangly? Even though I had to find some way to comb her hair without causing pain, I did feel a little bit of a connection that I never had before. It was funny like that for me, or maybe I’m just overly sensitive as a dad, whatever. I combed her hair, and I DID A GOOD JOB
Ok, this day was easy as hell. Not only did they have a birthday party to go to, I didn’t even have to take them. I put in an easy morning of transitioning from wearing pink sun hats and having tea parties to getting the crap beat out of me with plastic swords as a jerk dragon that was stealing treasure. Once nap was over, my brother in law came over scooped the kids away and brought them back at 8pm completely exhausted (the kids, not him) it was like a nice break of a day. I watched some post apoc movies, ate steak and potatoes for dinner, finished reading Dune and started/finished a short fantasy novel about Dwarves. Probably the worst part of the day was changing a poop diaper, thank Crom my 4 year old uses the potty.
Everyone keeps asking me how I survived, and as a Dad, it was never about survival, it was just being a Dad for me just mostly by myself. As much as the jokes about Dads not being able to survive these kinds of solo kid watching experiences it’s not that damn hard. You just be patient, try not to take out your frustrations around the kids and just be a parent. If my wife wanted to go to work and get a job that would pay all our bills I’d switch roles to being a stay at home dad in a heartbeat. It’s hard, so very, very hard. Kids are EXHAUSTING. When you have those little moments though, simple things like brushing your daughter’s hair for the first time it’s the kind of things that really stick with you. I was incredibly thankful when my wife came home to help in sharing the parental duties again, I don’t know how you single parents, especially those with more than one kid pull it off day in and out. For that, I give you a very humble tip of the hat.