My Message to Single Parents

I have decided to take a brief hiatus from my “speech and language development” posts to write about something that I have been thinking about again and again in recent weeks. What is this new topic you may ask? The holidays? A two-year-old’s birthday party? The disheartening end to the football season? (OK, that last one may be a joke…but not really).

Although these topics may lead to somewhat amusing posts, I can’t shake this idea from my mind. That thought is…how do single parents do it?!

After a very anxiety-provoking flight a few years back, I have all but sworn-off air travel. For my poor husband, this means that my chances of accompanying him on international flights are slim. I truly am very OK with this, and I have little issue (aside from money…sigh) with him taking a big trip a year. He was gone for ten days when I was pregnant and battling morning/afternoon/evening sickness, but the only one who really suffered was the dog. When our daughter was six or seven months old he again left for well over a week, but at that time she was stationary, couldn’t talk, and was a completely easy baby in every sense. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. No big deal. Piece of cake! Being a single parent wasn’t super fun, but it was certainly no big deal.

Well, the hubs left for Italy in Mid-November, this time leaving me with a smart, talkative, sassy, INDEPENDENT nearly two-year-old. She has decided in recent months that it is completely OK to strip naked when she is supposed to be going to bed, simply because she can. Hubby hadn’t so much as reached the airport when I informed him that our daughter had stripped and peed in her bed, which she was very proud to tell me about when I snuck in to check on her. Fantastic way to start the ten days…

My mini-me and I had a lot of fun when we were sans Daddy, and we certainly got into a routine. However, I found that I slept less, ate worse, didn’t exercise (I also blame the weather for that), and, again, the dog suffered. How do single parents do it?!?!

A few questions entered my mind more than once when I was a pseudo-single parent. I’m interested to hear if any other moms from two-parent households have wondered the same things!

1. When do you shower/get ready? Granted, I realize that you can plan ahead and wake up before your child, or maybe you are a person who likes to shower in the evening. However, what happens when your kiddo wakes up before your alarm but you have to look presentable for work? I praise all single parents who (often) look more put-together than myself. I have no excuse other than laziness. I don’t know how you do it.

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2. How do you cook? I found it hard to prepare meals when it was just me, as J always wanted to be playing somewhere else in the house right when it was time for me to take a few minutes to make dinner. As a result, we certainly had scrambled eggs a few times.

3. When do you go to sleep? I have work that I have to do at home nearly every night, as I am not a person who can let myself get behind and would be if I didn’t work from home. However, by the time J was in bed, I had cleaned up the kitchen and rest of the house, and had done my work for the night, I just wanted some “me” time to sit and watch TV. However, this meant that I regularly went to bed even later than usual (which is far later than my husband).

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4. What do you do if you are sick? This fortunately did not happen while I was a temporary single-parent, but I can’t imagine what I would have done if I was sicker than a dog with a toddler. I shudder at the thought.

5. HOW DO YOU DO IT?!?!?! This speaks for itself. I give mad props to all the single moms and dads out there. While it is likely awesome to not have to share your kiddo’s kisses and snuggles with anyone else, it is definitely the hardest job in the world. You are all amazing!



Lana Criswell is a born and bred Hawkeye fan who has lived in Iowa City for almost ten years! She came for college and never looked back. Lana has been married to her husband, Tom, for two years and is momma to Jessa (3.5 months) and Charlie, the dog. She finished graduate school nearly four years ago in speech-language pathology and works at Children’s Center for Therapy in Iowa City. She is excited to be able to work 80% time now and have some “girl time” with Jessa each week. Lana loves spending time with family and friends, cooking/baking, going to Hawkeye games, going on walks around the neighborhood with the dog, and reading.


  1. It’s hard for sure!! My husband goes on RAGBRAI for a week every year and We have two kiddos! Now, 3 and a half and almost 5, 2 dogs and a FT job!!! We are in survival mode when he’s away… I agree, I sleep less, eat worse and the poor dogs… They are lucky to eat twice a day!! We’re always so happy upon his return home!!!

  2. My husband travelled a lot. Most of the time, managing the 4 kids was no problem! To keep 3 from accidently stepping/sitting on newborn #4 I took him wherever I went. His bassinette went into the bathroom with me! It was a little hard to manage the softball schedules. Drop her off, Drop Dan off. Take Rob to his game and stay with him, baby at my side. Pick up Jen, check on Dan, boom Rob throws up in the car. Hmm. No more burgers and pop on the way out the door.

    More difficult was fitting Daddy back in when he came home, whether he’d been gone 2 weeks or 2 months. We called it Make Room for Daddy. We had all his mail in a basket by his chair, we tried to catch him up on how much had changed. Dan was told he couldn’t get a drink from the fridge without asking! I said oh, I’ve been letting him do that for a month now –

  3. I am a single mother of a 3 year old boy. Before I became a single parent our home life was very tense and full of stress…my particular experience with being a single mom is that it is EASIER than before. We have a routine and have established a bond that I’m not sure would have happened if his father and I were still together. Because my ex and my relationship was so toxic it was affecting our son–since its been the two of us he has become happier and more well adjusted. Now I have to admit PBS is my savior when I’m trying to do chores or get dinner ready…although we have such a close bond that he often wants to help me cook and clean–which I encourage 100%!!! My “me time” moments are few and far between, but to be honest I get lonely and miss him terribly when he goes with his dad, even if it’s only for an hour. I never used to think I could survive as a single parent but now i look at it as the most fulfilling and amazing blessing (I refuse to refer to it as a “job”) that I could have ever imagined. You never really know what you’re capable of until you have no other choice! 🙂


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