It was just me for five days. Well, me and the girls…and the cats…but in the adult category, just me. Sarah was off in Florida for a conference and got back late last night. I took a few days off work and took the role of solo parent while she was gone. And it was, in a word, awesome.
I loved having extra time with the girls, but I think what I loved most about it was the freedom. Since two of the three kids are homeschooled, there’s a lot of flexibility. Also, I’m usually juggling work and some aspects of the kids’ schedule and meals—which can be crazy-making—but this gave me the opportunity to focus solely on the kids and keeping the house in order.
The biggest challenge of parenting alone was figuring out what was possible with just me to orchestrate it, and making sure I still took care of myself along the way. I made time to exercise and also had some down time after the kiddos went to bed. I also realized that since I am able to be so involved in the normal day-to-day with Sarah here, taking over full time wasn’t as big of a leap as I thought it might be.
One of the highlights for me was a hike I took with Maia and Aliya. Keana was at school and we had the opportunity to take our learning outside as part of their unschooling. Maia was reluctant at first, but once I started asking her what she wanted for our picnic lunch, she began to get excited.
We drove up to Millerton Lake, just outside of town, and headed out. From the minute we stepped out of the car, the questions began.
It was so cool to have a few hours outside with them, learning tons and tons of stuff, all driven by their natural curiosity. The sights, sounds, and smells were the lesson plan and the wonder of what was up ahead drove their legs. This tree provided an opportunity to think about what caused the holes. We settled on woodpecker, but also talked about other pests that can affect trees.
We stopped often to look, listen, and ask questions. The girls paused to look down into this little valley and saw burnt logs and then noticed fungus growing along another fallen log. How did the tree catch on fire? Why are some logs burned and not others? Where else can we see fungus? Why is fungus growing there instead of somewhere else?
Sap from a tree started another long conversation and provided some treasures to take home as “gifts.”
We stopped for everything that caught our eye: mold, moss, water droplets, cow patties, other poop, and of course, rocks!
This is just the first part of a very steep hill. There’s more to climb over the place that looks level ahead of us…
On our way down, we passed several adults huffing and puffing who were considerably impressed that Maia and Aliya made it up and still had smiles on their faces.
Here’s a panoramic as the girls look for the best place to have lunch…
And as we ate lunch, we talked about all the things we had seen and heard cows mooing in the distance. We also saw a red-tailed hawk land in a nearby tree and take off to look for its lunch.
Here’s a short video from the hike. I ran out of space on my phone so there are some abrupt cuts, but you’ll get the idea…
And here’s the stats from Strava…
What a gift that hike was…and it really captures what I loved most about being a solo parent: lots of time with the kids; the opportunity to focus on family life; some scheduling freedom; opportunities to learn together; and much more. I don’t really have time to put it all into words (gotta get dinner going), but I wanted to capture some of it before “normal” life starts again. Obviously, I appreciate having Sarah here with me, and the girls certainly missed their Mama, but I think it was a great experience for all of us, and I’m happy I was able to handle things (and enjoy it!) while Sarah did something just for her.