Business Trip Without the Kids? Keep Your Single Mom Sanity!

By Melissa Chapman

Somehow despite being a single mom with two kids and a full-time career, you’ve managed to keep family chaos to a minimum. You’ve gotten morning wake-up calls and breakfast time down to a science, and although your kids initially resented your drill-sergeant type attitude they’ve now come to appreciate it and even crave it.
They’re much happier and secure in the knowledge that when they open their neatly compartmentalized lunch bag, they’ll filled it with find cut up fruit, a juice box, a little love note instead of empty! And of course they love the fact that their mom always remembers—even when they forget to remind her, (which they usually do!)-to sign their tests, tuck their trip money and an extra pair of sneakers for gym class into their backpack because this single mom’s got it all covered!
Then you leave on a business trip- which as a single mom is a huge hardship, forcing you to secure non-stop babysitting for several days straight. You’re completely convinced that upon your return home, this perfect well-oiled, tight ship you painstakingly created will not run efficiently without you and will ultimately  lose its steam.
Unfortunately your fears were not unfounded; you return home to find; dirty laundry dotting your floors, school notices crumpled up or shoved haphazardly into kitchen drawers, and a refrigerator that resembles one that might belong to a 22 year-old bachelor. You hear a crunching noise each time you take a step—there are bits of tortilla chips as far as the eye can see, and your kids have managed to build a mound of garbage that were anyone to disturb it would quickly come crashing down like a Lego lineup.
But before you call your boss to explain why it is imperative that you be taken off any extended business trips for fear that the next time you return home you might find a dead animal underneath all the rubble; here are some easy ways for you and your family to help get all of you over the hump when you’ve got to go away for a few days.
1) The weekend before your big trip pack the kids in the car and head to the supermarket for a big shopping expedition. Make sure you load up on lots of healthy snacks like fresh fruits- and veggies- that don’t need to be “cut or prepared- baby carrots in a bag, apples, bananas- any and all produce that will require the least bit of work on the part of your kids. Other easy to prepare snacks like yogurt, cheese, and vegetarian frozen chicken nuggets are good bets to pop into your grocery cart too!
2) Prepare several large dishes like lasagna, and roasted chicken breasts and place them in reheatable containers in the freezer. This way each night you’re gone, your kids can still enjoy Mom’s dinner served piping hot- just as long as they pop it in the oven. And this will keep their consumption of take-out and greasy foods to a minimum.
3) Set up a master list which states each child’s chores on a cork board in the kitchen. For instance, Monday and Wednesday it is your son’s responsibility to gather up all the dirty clothes from the floor and hamper and put them in the laundry room, while your daughter is in charge of loading the dishwasher. And, of course, your baby sitter has to follow through and start the dishwasher and laundry machines.
4) You’ll need to post one more list that will contain clear details of your kid’s activities, carpools, homework assignments and any other pertinent information, to help keep your kids’ routines as consistent as possible. Be sure to review every last detail with your babysitter, before you duck out of there!
5) Make sure you’ve got your laptop and that you’re plugged into your e-mail, and that you’ve got your text messaging game on, and of course that you call your child every night before bedtime, to ask about the highlight of their day and remind them to brush their teeth.
6) Alert your children’s teachers that you will be away on vacation, and give them your baby sitter’s cell phone number and your hotel room number just in case.
7) Cash in on those favors from friends; call and ask if any of the other parents can take your kids home from school one night, and give them dinner.
8) Keep your ex on standby alert—just in case all these safeguards you’ve put in place falter.
9) Make sure you bring your children back a few little gifts, and some hotel mementos that they can bring into their classes for show and tell, and to let them know that even though you might have been 3,000 miles away, you never stopped thinking about them.
10) And last but certainly not least; take advantage of this time away from the daily grind that is single motherhood. Pamper yourself a bit, if the hotel has a spa, treat yourself to a massage. Spend one night in your hotel room lazing about- get room service; a nice glass of wine and catch up with your favorite television show because, before you know it- you’ll be back home and your alone time will be but a distant memory!   


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