Family life

Solo parenting: The good, the bad and the ugly

After five months, Jennifer Pinarski is finally getting the hang of parenting on her own.


Isaac and Gillian. Photo: Jennifer Pinarski

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

My husband moved out five months ago, dragging a wheeled suitcase, a pillow and an ironing board behind him through December’s wet snow. As the kids and I waved goodbye from the window, we knew that he’d be back on the weekend, but it didn’t make waving goodbye any easier. And each Sunday night as he gets ready for the drive back to Kingston—where he lives until we sell our house and get to be together again—the kids tuck drawings and Easter candy into his luggage.

“So you’ll remember us,” my daughter says.

“As if I could ever not think of you,” my husband replies.

Read more: Solo parenting is lonelier than I expected >

But now that our weeks have fallen into a hectic rhythm, I feel like I am finally getting the hang of parenting on my own. I may not like it, but I’m learning that it does get easier. Here are a few of the things that I’ve come to love (and loathe) about solo parenting:

We appreciate our marriage more
Prior to taking on this new job, my husband and I were together 24/7 since I was a stay-at-home mom and he worked from home. Needless to say, it’s easy to take each other for granted when you’re constantly around each other. Being apart makes me realize how hard he is working right now.

I get all the hugs and kisses
Confession: my four- and seven-year-old children sleep in my bed with me and I love it. I love falling asleep next to them and having them wake me up with kisses and cuddles (even the early morning ones). I love that I get to read them books all the time and that my lap seems to be just the right size for both of them. Hands down, this is the best part of solo parenting.

But I also get all the temper tantrums
When my husband arrives home on Friday nights it’s an all-weekend party, complete with tickle-fests and ice cream. The kids, predictably, are wonderfully well-behaved. Weekday stresses such as lunches, homework and bedtime routines are often the cause of epic tantrums. While I do my best to keep my cool, the kids are often not the only ones prone to tantrums.

My horrid housekeeping is magnified
As we rushed out the door a few weeks ago—prior to having a real estate agent show our house—my husband spotted something under a kitchen cabinet. It was an onion that had sprouted greens at least four inches long. I’m a terrible housekeeper at the best of times, but this solo parenting thing has really shown how messy I can be. With young active kids, I’d much rather be playing outside with them than cleaning. I might start checking for cupboard onions more often though.

My horrid housekeeping is offset by acquiring handy skills
Last month, the pump for our utility sink died, meaning I couldn’t do laundry. Armed with curse words, plumbers tape and my daughter’s uncanny knack for handing me the exact tool I need before I need it, I replaced the pump. Next up: replacing an element in the oven without electrocuting myself.

What are you favourite parts of solo parenting? What parts do you find challenging? Tweet me @JenPinarski.

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