Live or Die by the Schedule


Daily schedule for toddlers
Flickr photo by Daquella Manera
I know that you don't have to be a sometimes single parent to live or die by the schedule. But the biggest challenge we face is trying to carve one out when there's oftentimes nothing to depend on.

In many households, there is a fair level of predictability. If it's a single income household, then the working parent usually gets home at the same time every day. Or has some sort of schedule that can be followed.

For dual working households, the same rule generally applies.

But when you've got a spouse who travels inconsistently, or who is working out of town and is at the liberty of planes being able to fly at the time they are scheduled to do so, creating a schedule can be a maddening process.

I will say that when my husband flies commercial trips, it's actually a bit easier. He'll give me his schedule about two weeks before it starts and I can see when he's on-call (and could possibly be home or could possibly be gone) and when he's off.

But with his new job, it seems as though all bets are off. And creating a schedule is like a really challenging brain-teaser. Except without the answer page to peek at.

He currently works Monday through Friday about two hours away, and is attempting to come home on Tuesday and Thursday nights because he can arrive a little later to work on Wednesday and Friday.

But there are days when the planes break down and he takes off late, so him coming home at 10 p.m. to just leave the next morning at 5 a.m. doesn't make sense. But then there are also days when the planes break down and he doesn't fly at all, which means he could come home even if he wasn't planning on it.

However, broken planes means he'll be working on Saturdays.

This also means that I will be losing it on the phone with him every other day.

I guess the benefit to all this is that the kids aren't really fazed. They're used to him being away and returning on a fairly haphazard basis so that when he does come home, they're just happy to see him.

But for me, it's become a bit more challenging. I get disappointed when I expect him to come home and he can't. And it's great when he can come home on a day when I don't expect him, but it throws everything for a loop. I scramble to make an actual meal for all of us instead of just grabbing a hodge-podge of leftovers. And then my body actually gets more tired from getting that short window to relax and hand the reins over to someone else and I find myself drinking extra coffee the next day just to stay awake.

I'm slowly learning that I need to set my own schedule and do my own thing, and not let the expectations of him coming home interfere with my plans. It's not because I don't care or that I don't want to include him. But there's only so much change my brain and sanity can take. And since I'm caring for three kids all by myself, I just don't have that much brain power and sanity to spare.

So sometimes single moms, what's your schedule and is it working for you?


a mom's life, bathtime, bedtime, sleep

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jeann... jeannesager

My husband works a more regular job, so I'm not in quite your boat. But it drives me nuts when he gets called in in the middle of dinner or gets stuck there for extra hours because it makes it impossible to schedule anything!

wildf... wildflowers25

My husband doesn't have to travel to that extent.  He does have to do training in other cities hours from home and he is on call whenever the guy whose job it really is doesn't bother to answer.  So basically he can get called out whenever, including the middle of the night.  He can also be expected to work several hours of overtime at the drop of a hat.  I'm glad he is working so I can go to school and contribute financially when I'm done but it's very hard to schedule anything from dinner to going out of town.  Him being away a lot happens in cycles and it's hard on the kids.  I'd like things to be different but for now, we're stuck.

ethan... ethans_momma06

My husband works on call, and my father worked consturction- both have incredibly variable hours. So what happened (and is happening) is you don't plan your schedual around what THEY are doing, but around what the family at home needs. Dinner is at dinner time, even if Daddy is running 'late'. Bedtime still happens, if daddy isn't home you get a quick phone call to say good night.

Carey... Carey2006

Most of the times we just wing it......I hate the idea of kids have EVERYTHING scheduled, there's plenty of time in life for that!

sodapple sodapple

we play it by ear, there are days that my husband comes home at 6 and there are days that he arrives at midnight. either or, we just try not to stay stuck at home and be able to go out and enjoy the nice weather at this moment.

Cafe Amy Cafe Amy

My husband mostly works when the rest of the world is home with their families... and although his schedule is crazy - for the first time in his working career he actually gets to make the schedule... which he can do 30 days in advance - for the month ahead. So we do live and die by our calendars --- and communicate by text and email --- but it's just the way it is - so we make it work.

frysh... fryshannon34

We do the same thing mostly everyday

Proud... ProudSingleMum

I work from home, so I set my own schedule. It's taken quite a while for me to get into one that consistently works. Right now, I go to bed when my son does at 7ish. Then I get up at 3 AM to start my day. I get done early, and we have time to hang out in the afternoon. Plus, I have a large amount of my work done early in the day, so we can make it to a morning playdate if there happens to be one that day.

Freela Freela

Although dh's schedule is more set now, for ages he was on call all the time and would have times when he flat out did not come home when expected... for ages he did IT server support for a bank and if it wasn't working, you stayed there until it was.  This led to some all nighters and a lot of late nights, plus a lot of nights where he came home, then stuff went kerflooey at work and he had to go back in.  Now he has far fewer on call hours, but he travels more often (he is actually away for a conference this week so I am single momming it until Friday.)  Some days he also gets to dial in and work from home, so he is physically present but mentally absent.  Generally what I do is plan my days around the kids and I without real regard to him.  If he's working from home, we basically act like he's no there.  I make dinner around the same time every night- if he gets there, he eats it, if he has to stay late, he will have to heat it up later.  And obviously if he's away on business, we do it all without him.

nonmember avatar Selmada

Well, as a full time, all the time, single parent of 12 month old twins, we have somewhat of a schedule. The specific activities vary based on the day of the week and because sometimes naps just dont happen, it has to be flexible.


But I try to keep it fairly regular for things like meal times, nap times and bedtime. What we do in between, depends on the weather, what needs to be done, if friends have called up etc. Also, I have a second fulltime job outside the home. So weekday daytimes are spent with a childcare provider. For the most part, she follows what I do.


You do what you have to do and whatever works for your family on any given day. Stressing over it doesnt make it easier.

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