I often wonder how other single parents do it. I don't know many and the ones I know I'm not close enough to to actually ask that question. So I rely a lot on what I hear in the media, in magazines and actually what my own mom tells me about her experiences from my childhood. But most of these sources talk about emotional issues, larger problems and overly dramatic events such as custody battles and big life changes. Nobody talks about the day-to-day life of actually being able to get through the day, fed, cleaned and well-rested at night, both mother and child, while still working full time. The gist of the problem is of course that there is nobody you can send down after milk if you forget and find out at 8pm when Zoe is in her pajamas. There is nobody who magically does the dishes while you sleep. And Sweden has no pick-up service laundries, instead you have to take it downstairs at a scheduled time. I certainly haven't cracked the nut yet but here is a list of the things I do have down, which make everyday life easier and doable for me:
- I get food boxes from arstiderna.com ("the seasons", an all organic food delivery). These are boxes with all the ingredients for dinners, either for 3 or 4 days. A box arrives Monday and Zoe and I have food for the rest of the week. It is delivered at my doorstep.
- I have a cleaner. Completely crazy because of the size of my apartment but I still have a bathroom and a kitchen and I still cannot imagine when I would be able to vacuum apart from the evening when oh, Zoe is sleeping (right…)
- I have two babysitters who are very flexible and who I can ask to pick Zoe up and feed her dinner, so I can work extra long on deadlines.
- I do laundry at night: I take the load down when Zoe is awake, she goes with me. Then I leave her sleeping to go down and put it in the dryer and a second time to pick it up. I have told her that I do that so she knows I will be right back if she wakes up. She has never woken up yet. I remember my mom doing the same with me.
- Zoe watches quite a lot of TV when she comes home from daycare. I have to cook quickly and often quickly means in 30 seconds, so Zoe watches TV while eating snacks, crackers and cut veggies. She uses my iPad to access netflix with all their kids TV. I'm pretty okay with most of what she watches but I would like her to spend less time on it. I often join her after dinner and we chat about the shows, while having a cup of tea.
- I'm not a morning person and neither is Zoe. She is (like most 3 year olds) very slow in the morning and needs constant coaching to get ready. It takes me almost 3 hours from getting out of my bed until I'm at work. And Zoe cries for 3-10 minutes when I leave her at daycare. Still.
- Picking up packages, taking back library books, buying specialty items are all a nightmare. I don't have any flexibility on a weekday to go the long way home from daycare to pick up a package or pass by a hardware store to get a small light bulb for my exhaust fan. These are small things but annoying when I haven't been able to see what I'm cooking for over a month.
- Missing Zoe. I miss Zoe terribly when she is not with me. Although the initial freedom is nice, I feel cut in half when I don't have her. I'm sure her dad find it equally hard.
- Having someone to share your day with. One thing I miss the most about being by myself is that I have nobody to share the day with. When something annoying happens, I'm stuck with it inside my head and when good things happen I get to share it on Facebook and get five likes. When Zoe says the cutest thing I cannot tell anyone (but this is also a problem with us having our 'own' language), instead I try to write some of it down.
Many of these issues are not often discussed, perhaps due to triviality and lack of interest, perhaps some are unique to me. But I'm constantly working on improving my everyday life, both for practical reasons and for improving my happiness.