Suddenly a Single Parent: When a Spouse Works Out of Town

Having a spouse that works out of town has some unique pitfalls. My husband started traveling to his company’s main office (2 ½ hours away) three years ago so our normal duel parent household turned into a single parent household for most of the week. He normally leaves on Monday and returns home either Thursday or Friday. I work Saturdays and Sundays so our family does tag-team parenting because every day only one parent is available for the kids. Sorry gentlemen, these pitfalls and solutions are aimed mainly at the moms of the world but if you are a stay-at-home dad I’m sure you can find some relevance in them.

Running the Household

I could list all the chores and tasks associated with running a household but we all know what they are: Cleaning, yard work, grocery shopping, paying bills, and balancing the budget. I decided to lump them all into one category because it all needs to get done, eventually. I realized that I’m not Super Mom and not everything will get done. I also made that realization clear to my hubby.

Prioritizing is the only way to get to everything that needs to be done. I know every other Friday I need to pay the bills so that morning is set aside for that task. I work grocery shopping in twice a week; one at the beginning of the week and one right before the weekend so no one starves while I’m at work. It is difficult to juggle everything and if something doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done. I just make sure the important stuff gets accomplished.


Laundry gets its own category outside of the general household chores. Why? Because my husband doesn’t empty out his suitcase until Monday of every week, right before he repacks it to leave. But even if he emptied it out on Friday I wouldn’t have the time to do laundry over the weekend.

There are two solutions to this one: First, get enough clothes for two weeks. This way one set will always be clean. The second solution is for him to do laundry over the weekend. We opted for the second solution. Problem resolved.


Some days I wish cloning myself was an option but I’m not sure I could live with another one of me. This becomes a problem when at least two of us need to be at the same place at the same time. There are three solutions to this problem.

1. Have another parent who is going to the same function take your child. 2. Drop off one child early and rush to the second activity. 3. Prioritize and only do one thing.

Depending on what the activity is I normally pick option 3. My kids are still young and I’m not quite ready to let them be somewhere without me. That’s quickly changing, I realize that, but until it does (in my mind at least) I’m making the decisions about which activities get skipped.

Life becomes a balancing act when one parent works out of town. I’ve learned to have realistic expectations and to prioritize what is the most important. I’m not perfect and the situation is not perfect but these few things have made our lives easier.

More parenting articles by this writer:

What is Tag-Team Parenting?

A Realistic Look at Tag-Team Parenting

Turn Weekly Traditions into Life Lessons for Your Kids

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