Rocking a Solo-cation (with Kids) without Losing Your Sanity


Let me first say, I give MAD PROPS to mamas and dads who are rocking it solo, day in, day out, 24/7, 365. You all are my heroes.

And I’d totally get if you stopped reading what might appear to be my semi-whining about the seasons where I find myself more solo than usual.

But if parenting is like strength training (no idea where that metaphor breaks down), I don’t use my solo parenting muscles on a daily basis, so when I am called upon to flex them, well, it ain’t always pretty.

Maybe it’s not this summer specifically, but I bet many of you find yourselves occasionally in the land of solo parenting.

Work trips, military training, grad school, unexpected illness or injury.

There are lots of reasons you might find yourself in a stretch without your co-parent to provide relief.

And I’m not saying that being solo is a walk in the park, but for some reason, my brain started thinking: What if I approached these few weeks like a vacation?

Say, wha?

Okay, okay, hear me out!

I’m talking about a vacation with children.

Not a Sandals resort with your sweetie.

If you think about it that way (vacation with children), what are the two key principles that help you keep your sanity?

Wine and chocolate.

Okay, yes. These work incredibly well. But let’s think principles, not objects of my tummy’s desire.

The two principles that come to mind for me are minimizing work and compromise.

Rocking a Solo-cation (with Kids) without Losing Your Sanity | Des Moines Moms Blog

So here’s how I’m tackling this summer’s solo-cation with children using the principles of minimizing work and compromise.

Laundry and Grocery Shopping.

Minimizing Work: You’ve probably all seen these sorts of Pinterest suggestions to put your kids’ daily outfits in Ziploc baggies when you’re packing. Call me crazy, but I’m doing it for this solo-cation! Sure, we’ll be in our own house, but I’m confident this is going to be awesome! Even though we’ll be solo a few weeks, I’m going to do a week’s worth the baggies per kids, and then I think I’ll be able to stick with one load of laundry per week. Can you imagine that? That is a mama-cation!

Compromise: I love cooking, I really do! And my kids currently love three things:

  1. mac and cheese,
  2. chicken nuggets, and
  3. protesting every dinner with as much fervor as their little hearts can muster.

If we were on a traveling vacation, I’d recognize that we might not be eating a regular diet. Guess what? We’re not on this solo-cation, either! Sure, I’ll have some freezer meals prepped, but other than that, we’re having what mama can get prepped within one episode of Blaze. Mass veggies and grilling to resume when co-parenting is reinstated (this is in no way to say that moms can’t grill–I just don’t when solo!).


Minimizing Work: Since we currently reside in an itty-bitty abode with no fenced yard, frankly, staying home is more work. So if you see me on the go, it’s not because I’m super mom. It’s because I’m gonna lose my ever loving mind if we’re in my living room for one more second. I love to take my kids on new adventures, but for this solo-cation, we’re sticking to two nights a week, out to our usual haunts. And weekends? Wanna invite us over?

Compromise: Normally, I am all about FREE FREE FREE when it comes to kids’ activities. It takes off the pressure of “we will have fun or ELSE!!” in case we need to bail. But just like during a real vacation with kids, you sometimes go ahead and pay for the fun attraction, my plan is to find one activity a week that is new, manageable with two kids and one adult (unless you want to come with us?), and that just might cost.

Random Bits.

Yeah, just like me on a real vacation, there’s that last minute stuff I’m throwing in the back of the van that didn’t really fit into a category or someone’s suitcase.

Other things I’m planning on trying this solo-cation?

I’m gonna clean out our van right before we kick off. I don’t know why, but a clean van is my happy place. Will it be trashed by the end of this solo-cation? Yep, just like a real vacation.

I’m gonna buy some new music. We’ve got a gift card we still haven’t used from Christmas, and I just can’t listen to “Try Everything” ninety more times. Sorry, Shakira. Nothing but love!

I’m gonna lower my expectations. Will these things work? Maybe. Just like the best laid plans on any vacation with kids. But was it worth the trying for more sanity and more fun?

Here’s hoping!

What strategies have you tried to get through a solo-cation with your kids?

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Does it involve good conversation? Will it leave people thinking and feeling connected? Is there a chance of diet Coke? Then count me in! I’m a relationship-building, student-advising, psychology-teaching, craft-making, food-experimenting wife to Jensen (July 2007) and mama to Leo and Louie, the two most handsome, dark haired, long-lashed little men I’ve ever met. My current hobbies include finding awesome take-out restaurants, convincing everyone I know that the best party is a THEME party, and adding books to my “to read” shelf on Goodreads.


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