Honestly, Sometimes I Prefer Parenting Alone

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Right now, my three kids are sleeping, the house is clean, and I am alone. My husband has left for the evening, so I'm sitting on the couch, eating ice cream judgment-free. I have a night of work and reading ahead of me, and I cannot wait to get started.

Tonight hasn't been all roses. The kids got each other riled up before bedtime. There was lots of whining about cleaning up their toys. I had to put them in front of the TV for an hour to save my sanity, but by the time they fell asleep, I was happy to be alone. Blissfully alone. And to be honest, at the end of the day, sometimes I prefer parenting that way.

Don’t get me wrong — my husband is great. He’s an awesome dad. He always has fun with the kids. When he’s home, he cooks them meals and plays with them, and he makes them oh so happy. But as soon as he walks through the door after work, the schedule, routine, and general cleanliness I have managed to maintain throughout the day is thrown out the window, which can be frustrating.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I tend to be the more organized parent. I'm the one who keeps everything on schedule and makes a habit of washing dishes before the meal is even finished. I'm the one who ensures that everyone puts their shoes in their closets and their clothes in the hamper. I’m not a killjoy, but I prefer to plan our play times. I text friends for play-dates and plan trips to the park a day in advance. At home, we’ll move slowly from one activity to the next. I like my kids to finish putting their books away after reading before moving on to play board games. I like having a routine because I like feeling in control, something I’ve always craved for as long as I can remember.

I often relish the times when I am parenting alone, even if they are a bit stressful. Being outnumbered by my kids doesn’t bother me as much as not being the only person in charge.

When my husband is home, it’s hard to keep that control. When he is making dinner, there is stuff flung all over the kitchen. Spilled food is left to harden. Dirty plates are left on the kitchen table, where art projects weren’t cleaned up before everyone sat down to eat. There are toys everywhere. Everyone is having fun. And me? I’m usually working or stressing out about the mess.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

The thing is, the way my husband parents isn’t wrong, per se. He’s spending quality time with our kids and honestly, I could probably do with a bit more of his laissez-faire attitude when it comes to keeping the house in order, or keeping my routine intact. But sometimes, his free-wheeling parenting is incredibly frustrating, because he and I both know who will be cleaning up the house the next morning.

Every once in a while it’s nice to parent alone, to have the satisfaction of surviving and thriving in my husband's absence.

That’s why I often relish the times when I am parenting alone, even if they are a bit stressful. Being outnumbered by my kids doesn’t bother me as much as not being the only person in charge. My husband used to go out of town on business trips, and I'd always secretly enjoy the first few days when he was gone, because I'd be satisfied with how smoothly the house ran when I was the only parent there.

Of course, that feeling rarely lasted for more than a few days. My kids had a knack for getting vomiting illnesses whenever their dad was out of town for an extended period of time, and the loneliness of not having another adult human around wore on me after the first 48 hours. Ultimately, I like having times when I can be the “off-duty” parent and switch into work mode before bedtime. I like having someone to share my evenings with.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

Even though I sometimes enjoy doing this whole parenting thing on my own, the truth is that I love my husband and I feel lucky to have him as a co-parent. I prefer that he's at home instead of gone for days at a time, and I'm much happier now that he doesn't travel frequently for work.

That said, if he ever wants to go out and do his own thing now and again, I definitely don’t discourage him from doing so, Because every once in a while it’s nice to parent alone, to have the satisfaction of surviving and thriving in his absence, just to prove to myself that I can do it. Still, I'm always happy when he comes home at the end of the day —even if it means a messier house.