This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. If you want to support my website and blogging efforts, you can do so at no additional cost to you. For more information, you can read my full disclosure page here.
Back at the end of February, my husband took my younger sister on a road trip before she reported to her first station as a U.S. Coast Guardsman. After traveling for almost the entire month of February, I was ready to get back into a routine and spend more time focused on my business.
So, my husband and sister went by themselves and I stayed home with my four-year-old daughter. I remember thinking “How hard could it be solo-parenting while running a business for a few days”?
But what was supposed to be a five-day trip turned into a nightmare for my husband and me. The train that my husband talked me into letting him ride got stuck in a snowstorm, and he was stranded with dozens of other passengers for two days.
Then, the train had to go back to its starting point, forcing my husband, and many others, to either get a new ride or find another way home. The trip that was supposed to take five days took a total of almost two weeks. In the meantime, I had to figure out how to balance solo-parenting while running a business and the busy season that I had found myself in. Here’s how I managed it.
I Mapped Everything Out
I’m a planner by nature. I have more planners, notebooks, whiteboards, and systems than I’d like to admit. But, because of my type-A nature, this made preparing for solo-parenting so much easier.
For one, it was easier for me to make a to-do list of everything that I needed to do. However, instead of just planning business tasks, I scheduled tasks for the home and my daughter as well.
Now, I know this wouldn’t work for everyone. If you’re not as much of a perfectionist or high-strung as I am, lists may be pointless to you. But for me, they gave me a starting point in what needed to be done.
For example, my to-do list for the day would include:
- Scheduled time off for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my daughter.
- School and play activities for my daughter (since she’s homeschooled).
- Client work that had to be done that day.
- Anything extra that I wanted to finish on my business.
- Bedtime routine for my daughter and cleaning the house.
I also had to take care of our three animals and garden, so that was all scheduled in as well. Even if it all didn’t get done that day (which of course it didn’t, because I’m not superwoman), I felt good knowing what took top priority.
I Had To Make Sacrifices
As I said, there was no way in hell I could get everything on my to-do list completed every single day.
Some days I had to sit my daughter in front of the TV or in the bathtub with a ton of toys, just so I could focus on my work or take a client call. Other days I had to sacrifice on my writing or client work just because my daughter needed more snuggle time or was constantly hungry (which meant dozens of runs to the kitchen).
I had to learn to sacrifice. My husband, who’s a stay-at-home dad and fellow business owner, typically picked up the slack around the house during my busy work seasons. He was also responsible for most of my daughter’s daily activities.
With him gone, I was doing double duty for both my daughter and my business. And I just couldn’t keep up with being perfect for both. So, I did what I could and dropped what I couldn’t. I also took everything one day at a time.
Was that hard? Yes, especially as someone who is highly ambitious and sort of a workaholic. Did I figure it out? Yes, because I had to. My daughter and my business both needed me, as the breadwinner and as the sole parent in the home while my husband was gone.
I Woke Up Early or Stayed Up Late
I would never recommend this to someone who planned on solo-parenting and running a business long-term. However, for the two weeks that I was doing this, I would either wake up early or stay up late.
In my four years of running a business, I’ve realized that sometimes you go through rough patches. Sometimes it’s in your business, and sometimes it’s in your personal life. Sometimes, it’s both. It’s a guaranteed part of being an entrepreneur that you WILL feel like a failure sometimes.
As I was waking up at 5:00 am or staying up until 1:00 am, I felt like a failure. Here I was, four years into my business, and I was having a hard time balancing watching my daughter and working. I felt like a failure as a mom, because I couldn’t devote my full attention to my daughter. And, I felt like a failure in my business because I couldn’t seem to keep up with demand.
But I had to realize that it was OKAY. I was aware that I had the luxury of never knowing what it felt like to be a single mom. My husband is the most supportive person in my life and we functioned as a team. And honestly, I had to admit that I felt a little lost without him during those two weeks. But, I knew that my situation was temporary. I also knew that when he came home, we’d all be able to go back to our routines.
So, I kept getting up early or staying up late. I would work on whatever I could before my daughter woke up or after she went to bed, so I could try and be there for her during the day. Of course, I had client calls and other items that had to be completed during work hours, but for the most part, this system worked itself out during the two weeks I did it.
I Got Creative
Listen, sometimes you just have to Pinterest some shit. For me, I used Pinterest and Google to find a ton of activities that would keep my daughter occupied how to bond with her when she seriously missed her dad.
I’m not a bad mom, but I am the breadwinner of the household and work more than I probably should. While I’ve been able to cut back my work hours due to outsourcing, creating systems, and being smart about my work, sometimes I just hit a busy season.
I also find it hard to connect to people and show them I care about them. Because of this, I had to make sure that I put in the effort to help my daughter realize that I loved her and cared about her. I had to learn to speak her love language (quality time) while also knocking out my business tasks. That took a lot of creativity on my part.
Some of the things I did included:
- Taking her outside just to play for an hour or two. We would throw around a ball, play with bubbles, or just run from one end of the apartments to the other.
- Giving her a ton of toys for bathtime. This would keep her busy for at least an hour. Sure, she was wrinkled by the time it was time to get out. But it gave me time to cook, work, or clean.
- FaceTimed friends and family. My daughter LOVES to talk. So, why not have her talk to the other people she loved while I had to focus on something else? It also gave my family and friends time with her since we live far from many of them.
I Applaud Solo-Parents
At the end of the day, my daughter and I survived and bonded over the two weeks that I was solo-parenting while running a business. However, we were both super happy to get the man in our lives back. When he walked through the door, all of my emotions and exhaustion took over me. I realized just how great I really had it.
Now, I want to applaud the single parents out there. I also want to applaud the parents that have to balance work and children on the daily by themselves. I know plenty of women with husband’s in high-stress careers (military, fire department, etc). And, these women have to balance everything while their husband’s are away for days, and sometimes weeks or months, at a time.
They have to not only manage a household and their children, but many also work full-time jobs, own a business, or work from home. So, whether you’re a single parent or a parent that takes over most of the responsibilities, I just want to say that you’re freaking amazing and you will get through this.
While I was only a solo-parent for two weeks, it was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn how to do. So kudos if you’ve been doing this for a long time. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. It makes you realize you can do it, even if things fall by the wayside a bit.
Solo-Parenting While Running A Business
So basically, these are the tips I learned while solo-parenting and running a business. I hope that I never have to do it again. But at least I know that I can if I do. I may not be superwoman, but I sure know how to juggle.