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Long distant parenting isn’t what I expected | #parenting | #parenting | #parenting | #kids


Last year, in the middle of a pandemic, my husband had to fly out to Kenya in an emergency.

His dad had been admitted to the hospital in a critical condition and they needed him in person to look after things.

After lengthy discussions, we decided it was easier for the children and me to remain in Sydney. It was such an uncertain time and this seemed like the most workable solution. We were also unlikely to get the exemptions to fly as a family and staying back was the least disruptive solution for our family.

As migrants, we’ve had our feet in two countries for years. We are often called upon by parents or in-laws to deal with crisis situations despite being thousands of miles away. Sometimes, we need to go back home if needed. There’s only so much one can do over the phone or video calls.

As migrants, we’ve had our feet in two countries for years. We are often called upon by parents or in-laws to deal with crisis situations despite being thousands of miles away.

So began my journey into solo parenting. This was the first time in 13 years of marriage that we would be apart for more than a month. What was meant to be a three-month stint, ended up being close to six months thanks to new virus variants, border lockdowns, reduction in traveller caps, and flight cancellations.

After my husband left, I relished the peace and quiet that followed. I also went to bed at 9 pm every night to recover from the emotional rollercoaster we’d been on for months.

It had been a stressful and hectic few months prior to his departure, with frantic, often panicked, long-distance calls at all hours of the day and night, trying to handle workloads, keep the children in their routine and keep the home running smoothly. We were both sleep-deprived and he felt the pressure and stress of trying to look after an ill relative from so far away.

The biggest challenge in solo parenting was trying to create a stable and secure environment for the kids who were seeing only one parent at home, instead of two. So, I started spending more time just playing, reading or cuddling with the children. That was a new thing for me, to sit patiently while my daughter and I played tea parties or countless games of UNO before bed with my son (their dad had always been their playmate, unfortunately, I have very little patience for play). I found that while both children adjusted quickly to not having their dad around, they needed frequent assurances that he was coming back at some point.

That was a new thing for me, to sit patiently while my daughter and I played tea parties or countless games of UNO before bed with my son (their dad had always been their playmate, unfortunately, I have very little patience for play).

My partner and I kept in touch regularly via WhatsApp and we video chatted frequently with him and the grandparents once things calmed down at his end. I kept him updated with all the school and daycare activities including funny things the kids said or did. Although I kept an eye on the kids for any insecurities or behaviour changes, luckily none came.

I would love to say that I held myself together perfectly during these six months, but I struggled when one or both children were sick or I was unwell. The stress of having to do everything myself got to me some days.

Surprisingly, there were some unexpected benefits to being on my own too. As a friend told me, ‘Don’t be surprised if you end up liking it!.’ There were definitely fewer dishes to wash and put away, I could be as lazy as I wanted to on the weekends without requests to go to the park to ‘soak in some sunshine and get exercise!’

I would love to say that I held myself together perfectly during these six months, but I struggled when one or both children were sick or I was unwell. The stress of having to do everything myself got to me some days.

I also had the chance to declutter our home in peace without having to spend hours arguing about why we needed to throw certain things out. And if I didn’t want to have a conversation, then I didn’t need to talk because I was the only adult in the house.

I also relished having an hour of TV time with a cup of herbal tea in the evenings after the kids had gone to bed. Finally, I could watch what I wanted to.

I became better at letting the housework go or unnecessary chores so I could rest. I also relished having an hour of TV time with a cup of herbal tea in the evenings after the kids had gone to bed. Finally, I could watch what I wanted to. Sometimes, I used this time to meditate or do yoga.

“I became better at letting the housework go or unnecessary chores so I could rest.”
Source: Supplied

The time apart made me realise how much I depend on my husband to be my sounding board (personally and professionally) and that he actually spends loads of time playing and connecting with the kids (I never noticed this before). It also made me appreciate the amount of time, energy and effort he puts in communicating with the kids and me, so we are across anything that affects us as a couple or family. We never felt out of the loop or overlooked while he was away.

I’ve learnt that I’m resilient and strong enough to look after the children solo if I need to and manage any challenging situations that come my way if my partner is not around.

We got the news just two days ago that he’s finally able to fly back to Australia. I may take off for a recharge when he’s back, and give him a chance to try out the solo parent gig for a few days.



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