My wife got home from a business trip last night and the girls and I were thrilled to see her. I have commented in the past about how the addition of a house guest or family member has a significant impact on the family dynamic. Similarly the absence of a family member throws things out of whack as well.
Using my one week rule of thumb, I think everything would have settled out so that the new routine was established and everybody stepped up to fill the void. However the 3 days and 2 nights were unfortunately filled with more crying, without home cooked meals, with a more cluttered and less sanitary home, less clean children and more tired children.
Pre-day care activities are pretty easy and amount to waking up, using the restroom or diaper change, brushing teeth, getting dressed and having a light breakfast. However tired and hungry children are confused when Daddy is in the shower or taking care of the sibling.
Post-day care activities are more challenging. They include dinner, play time, baths, play time and going to bed. Neither one are particularly good eaters and will often request second dinner after bath as they choose to be excused early from first dinner. Bath time is usually pretty smooth but bed time is tough as we have not trained self soothing and each child falls asleep faster when accompanied by a parent.
As any parent knows, there is no normal routine in a given day. The challenge may be as easy as spilled milk or as complicated as vomiting a potty accident. For those of us with less mental fortitude, these challenges put everything back in slow motion and play time is over, dinner is harried and baths and cleaning jump to the only issue.
I am grateful to live in a home with a washer and dryer, running water, electricity, a refrigerator, microwave, bath tub and multiple rooms. I really struggle to understand how single parents with limited means keep it together.