Last weekend, my wife Juliann took a girls’ weekend in Williamsburg with a couple of friends. I’m really glad she did it—she works hard both at work and at home and deserves some time off. I was also glad to get some quality time with the kids for the whole weekend. Not only that, but I was happy to really work on my dad skills and prove to myself that I could take care of the kids alone. I sometimes worry that I can just handle the bare minimum, that with me the kids would survive but not thrive. I think I proved myself wrong, and really made it a successful weekend for everyone. But I also got a little taste of the struggle of being a single parent.
We kicked off our daddy-only weekend on Friday night and got carryout chicken and rice from the tortilleria just a couple blocks from our house. My wife is a pescatarian (i.e., fish is the only meat she eats), so we usually just have fish or vegetarian meals. This chicken place is my go-to when she’s not around for dinner. It’s cheap and easy and nearby! Bedtime went pretty smoothly since I’m usually in charge of it anyway. They missed mommy but were satisfied with doing a video call with her. Once the kids were in bed I took some quality dad time for myself. I made myself a drink (Tom Collins) and played some video games (Phoenix Point).
On Saturday morning, I plopped them down in front of the TV so I could shower. I don’t like too much screen time, but in a pinch, it’s a good way to keep them occupied for a little bit. As a parent, I now truly understand the purpose of Saturday morning cartoons. Once showered, I carted the kids off to a big craft fair at Revatone Farm out in Spotsylvania. I snagged some presents for upcoming birthdays and took the kids to the bounce house. Some older girls held 1-year-old Lily’s hand in the bounce house so she wouldn’t fall down. It was sweet, but my girl is so fiercely independent that she couldn’t have cared less. We got some pictures with a guy in an 8-foot-tall full-body Transformers costume. He was right next to the bounce house; he knows his customers. For lunch, we dined on hot dogs and chips.
My next planned activity was visiting my parents up in Arlington. We hadn’t seen them in a couple of weeks, and this was a perfect opportunity to go give them some grandkid time. Both kids napped half the way then screamed for five minutes after waking up. We listened to Disney songs the rest of the way up. It was a nice day so we walked to the playground near their house. Dinner was rotisserie chicken again! We watched some old home movies of me at Benny’s age (he was fascinated) and played a few rounds of 20 Questions. Benny asked, “Is it bigger than farts? Because I just farted.” I was very proud of him. We said goodbye and headed home. My lucky stars were shining because both kids fell asleep on the way home and transferred to bed a-ok.
Sunday started with more TV in the morning so I could sleep in. I made us veggie bacon and scrambled eggs, our go-to weekend brunch. We went to their Harmony Kids music class—45 minutes of singing and dancing together, one of my favorite activities. In fact, I’m usually the teacher on Sunday mornings, but this time I got a substitute since I was watching the kids. It was nice participating just as a parent again. Afterward we walked over to the playground at Riverfront Park in downtown Fredericksburg, then got some chocolate gelato from Italian Station.
We went back home, and I took some downtime while Lily napped and Benny got some time on his tablet. After Lily woke up, we went out to Loriella Park to meet up with a friend and her son. The playground was a big hit. I had never taken the kids there before and they loved it! After playing for a good hour and a half, I dragged them home. I fed us some quick and easy cheese quesadillas for dinner. Then the kids played in the front yard as it got dark so they could see mommy when she got home. She rolled in around 7, and thus ended my daddy weekend.
I’m proud of myself for taking the weekend and filling it with activities. We didn’t just sit around the house; I took the kids out and enriched their lives. They not only survived but thrived! But I also was aware of what didn’t get done. I didn’t get the groceries that we needed. I didn’t clean up the house beyond basic tidying and didn’t do any laundry. Caring for the kids by myself, it felt like there was barely enough of me to keep the kids entertained, let alone maintain the household. I really respect anybody doing the single parent thing—kids demand so much, and it’s really hard without backup. And this was all on a weekend; I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to juggle the kids and my job during the week. But regardless of whether you’re parenting with a partner or by yourself, it can be nice to take on more responsibility for a while to prove to yourself that you can do it. And it’s even nicer going back to normal so you can appreciate what you have. Happy parenting!