You just learned your wife will be out of town for a few days. But before your visions of sleeping late and movie-watching can come into focus, you have a revelation: Now you will be responsible for all that stuff she normally handles. That includes clothes, cleaning, and — oh, man — the kids. Don't panic. There's a survival guide for just such a situation and, as it happens, you're reading it right now.
Filling in for your wife means there's about to be a lot on your plate. To keep the kids going, there should be a lot on their plates. While eating healthy is always on the menu, it's OK to also aim for simple. Spaghetti, meatloaf, grilled-cheese sandwiches — even cereal — are nutritious, easy-to-prepare meals. As always, choose your battles wisely: This isn't the time to get the 3-year-old to start eating vegetables he doesn't like.
The laundry gods were kind to men when it came to settings: White clothes use warm water; colored clothes use cold water. Connect the letters to remember how to wash what.
When clothes are finished washing, get them going in the dryer quickly. When wet clothes hang out in the washer too long, they start smelling sour.
Need to iron clothes? Try tossing them back into the dryer just before you wear them, instead. Many dryers actually have a wrinkle-release setting. The heat can often work out most of the wrinkles. Just be sure to put them on or hang them on hangers once done, or they'll wrinkle up all over again.
On Your Own with the Offspring
There's an opportunity here to create special memories with the kids while your wife is away — if you play your cards right (and it doesn't hurt if those are Old Maid cards). Watching their favorite movies, playing hide-and-seek, camping out in the backyard, planning an outdoor scavenger hunt, setting up a neighborhood lemonade stand … the possibilities are limited only by their imagination and your ability to keep up with them.
Instead of man-to-man, consider playing a zone defense. Assign each child a section of the house that they are responsible for straightening up. The feeling of ownership will inspire them to exceed your expectations. Just keep in mind you still may need to spot-clean even after they finish.
Something your wife knows that you might not: The dishwasher can usually handle more than it's given, so toss in those dirty pans and let it earn its keep. Also, keep in mind four words you've likely heard before a few times: Clean as you go. In the end, it's a time-saver.
With a little planning and some creativity, you'll rock the solo dad thing. And maybe, just maybe, you'll come away with a new appreciation for what your better half has been managing all this time.
Too busy to manage any "you time" while your wife was away? Score some when she gets back. Here's how.