Single moms! What do you do when your kids are with their dad? (Please don’t clean the house)

This is me having a fabulous time in Copenhagen while my kids were away with their dad. No guilt ensued.


I’ve been at this single mom business for a while, and have my weekend routines for when the kids are with their dad. Usually the 24 or so hours they are away, I conquer a mix of dates, hanging with friends, exercise, work and hanging out.

Lately I’ve been thinking I need a hobby — say, distance running or pottery or something I can accomplish in the physical world (digital media takes its toll, mentally, after a while). One mom posted here in the comments that thanks to her visitation schedule, she took up bicycling around Croatia. Yes, please!

Share in the comments: What do you do when your kids are with their dad?

One thing I hope you don’t do is follow this single mom’s lead. A woman I was friendly with in my neighborhood was sharing with me how, after her marriage during which she’d given up her career, she was struggling to rebuild her aesthetician business.

Me: “What about when your daughter is at preschool all day?”

Her: “I have to clean the house.”

Me: What about when she is with her dad?”

Her: “You have no idea. I have to clean the house!”

Me: “Can’t you hire someone to help?”

Her, proudly: “I have to do it. No one meets my expectations.”


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Well, eff that. If you insist on cleaning your house (which you shouldn’t. Hire that out, or lower your standards), you can do that when your kid is home. Then, use that time. Build a business. Go back to school. Go out and get drunk with your girlfriends. Spend time with your boyfriend. Or date, have sex, or join a needlework club or volunteer at your church. Whatever it is, don’t feel guilty for enjoying it. Don’t punish yourself with household labor because you feel bad about the state of your family. Or worse, don’t sacrifice fun or pleasure because you don’t believe moms deserve that.

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8 thoughts on “Single moms! What do you do when your kids are with their dad? (Please don’t clean the house)

  1. Totally this!!! I recently went back to school, soon to be ex doesn’t know so I do homework, sleep in, go out with friends, sleep some more, catch up with only household things that enhance my personal space and I enjoy the tipsy glass of wine instead of just the regular kind! I hate having the dirty house hanging over my head so I make sure the house is clean before they go with their dad. Added bonus… I get a clean house for the ENTIRE weekend!!! That’s three whole days this weekend!!! So excited! I’m going to be a big slob. BECAUSE I CAN!!! Lol!

  2. I feel left out because I am not a single Mom! But I applaud all of you for having fun, fun, fun! Life is meant to be enjoyed whether you are single, married, partnering, swinging or whatever:)

  3. You did it agin. Just when one of these “how is this ever going to get better” thoughts entered my mind your post popped into my inbox and Made me smile. Thank you!

  4. Hey Emma, after laying on the couch, curled up in a ball and crying and drinking my ass off to numb the pain while my son was with his dad I have recently got my shit together. I still clean my house but want to do something for me and I am trying to figure that out. I would love to find my passion, start a blog, go back to school or something that I love, at 49 years old!

  5. Hi Emma,

    Thanks for your great columns in SUCCESS magazine. When my sons are with their dad, it’s time for me to renew and focus on the things that move life forward for me and the boys. When I’m with my sons, I try to make it all about them. Not so easy to do all the time as a pro mommy, so I involve them in the work I do and we call it the “family business” and I have to provide regular biz updates to them. Now we’re discussing how great it is to FAIL and that failure leads to success. ;-)

    All the best,

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