don't tell mom, the babysitter's dad

Today I leave for Michigan for a long weekend, leaving Hal for the very first time, alone with the kids. Single dad for three-nights on his own, a first for him. I've been slightly nervous for the past week - putting out clothes for Fable to wear and filling the freezer with easy-to-heat meals, organizing and shopping and showing Hal which milk Fable prefers and how much to fill her bottle when, and how to make "salty eggs" for Archer and tricks to get Archer to go on evening dog walks.

And he's like, "yes dear. It's under control. I got it. Don't worry about me. Whatever."

And I'm like, "yes but, I know you do, but sometimes...."

Because as most (all?) of you know, co-parenting is a thousand times easier than parenting solo (Single parents? You are my heroes.) especially if you're not used to solo-parenting. (Hal has never gone anywhere alone with the kids, for instance. This scares me a little bit as he plans to do ADVENTURES ALL OVER LOS ANGELES! WAHOO!

Last night, as I was trying to figure out what the hell to pack for snow when I own no practical clothes packing the last of my things, Hal told me he was actually really excited to be alone with the kids for a few days.

"It's going to be an adventure," he said. "We'll all sleep in the big bed and we'll cuddle and watch movies and go to the park and we'll draw pictures and we'll paint paintings and we'll go to the Zoo and the farmer's market and we'll save the world and cure AIDS and build a hovercraft and bond."

tic tac toe...

xo, xo

So maybe they won't eat amazingly well for a few days and I'll come home to a messy house full of processed foods, Fable drinking from the toilet and Archer with a head full of dreadlocks. At least I'll know they had fun. Hal obviously doesn't need me to show him how to do that.



Unknown | 10:39 AM

I hope your trip to my state is fun and not too cold for you. Dad's are more capable than we give them credit for, they just go about it a little differently.

TKTC | 10:41 AM

I kinda want to steal their weekend itinerary. Maybe not this particular weekend because, sorry Charlie, it's snowing in Chicago. But next week I'll be back in LA and garage sales aside, farmer's marketing and the zoo sound like the best Saturday ever.

Molly | 10:43 AM

As a native Michigander, I have to say that I love that people who live in paradise vacation in Michigan in December. Pack your warmest scarves, sister.

Unknown | 10:46 AM

Great post. I have to leave my husband with our baby in a couple weeks and I keep reminding myself that even if he doesn't do it MY way while I'm gone, everything is going to be fine.

And then I pour myself another drink.

Maternal Mirth | 10:52 AM

If you want, I'll keep an eye out for any roaming Fables or Archers in L.A. while your gone... also, I'll check all toilets just in case.

tweetsweet | 10:57 AM

lol - the best thing will be when you get back home and he looks at you and says something like "I don't know how you do this all the time!"

I recently had a work conference (5 days) during which hubby was pretty much on his own - i.e. getting them (7 yr old son, 2 yr old daughter) up in morning, dressed, to school/daycare, home/baths at night, etc. (even though I still laid out all the clothes, packed lunches, planned meals, etc.)

He was in awe of me by the time my conference was I at least got to bask in that glow for awhile! Thank God he appreciated and gave praise for it - because IT IS HARD and we know it!!

Try to RELAX and enjoy the trip and not obsess over what he is feeding them or what they are wearing. I know, I know....but try!

foodiemama | 11:38 AM

"The dishes are done, man." -my favorite quote from the movie Don't Tell Mom the Babysitters Dead. Ha! I bet they'll have fun! So cute those kids of yours.

megan d | 11:41 AM

i live in michigan and it is cold - but not as bad as it usually is this time of year. and just for reference, if they say its going to snow in michigan it either will snow or wont snow or it will be 75 degrees or it will rain or it wont rain, etc... completely unpredictable here, so make sure you pack a variety!

oh, and have fun! there are lots of awesome spots to check out if you have the time. im sure your sister knows all the ins and outs but just in case, my email is if you need some ideas.

Sarah | 11:46 AM

What will be funny is when he does all of the things he has planned and it is only 11am on the first day!

MommyLisa | 12:14 PM

My friend Becks and I had a conversation about this - we both travel with our girlfriends and for work - we felt that we spend a HECK of a lot of time getting everything "ready" for dad to take over...and when they travel all they do is pack their toothbrush and leave us! BOO! ;)

MissAnna | 12:37 PM

As half of a young married couple that is not yet attempting to have kids, I have a real, honest-to-goodness, not snarky or judgmental or rude question (and I know a ton of super cool people read this blog, so maybe there's an answer?) most families, is it standard for Dad to be the "more fun" parent and for Mom to deal with more of the everyday stuff (despite which parent stays at home)? Is Hal taking the kids all over LA/having fun/etc a function of him single-parenting for the weekend or of Dad being in charge for the weekend? Would the kids do similar fun stuff if Mom was the one single parenting for a few days? Or is Dad (generic Dad, not specifically Hal) always more fun? (I feel like that's how it was in my house, just wondering how most households are/were. Not trying to single you out at all, Rebecca)

Abby Johns | 12:57 PM

I can't speak for everyone, but I can tell you that to me, it feels like, Adrian, my fiance, has less of the instinct to do all the everyday stuff. Sometimes I will catch him giving Ava something to play with that could be dangerous and he doesn't even realize it. It feels like Adrian has to really concentrate to notice potential dangers, whereas, I will walk in a room, do an automatic scan and remove any possible threats.

Does that make sense?

beyond | 1:13 PM

in my experience, dads on their own usually do surprisingly well -better than when moms are around. he might not do everything exactly as you would, but if everyone is healthy and happy when you get back, that's all that counts, right?

Candace | 1:21 PM

In response to an earlier question - my husband and I are both engineers so it's not like we're hung up on gender roles, but when it comes to our son he's definitely the fun one that will drop everything and wrestle around on the floor. They sometimes do weekend "adventures" where they get on a city bus with no idea where it's headed. I tend to be the one that worries if our son is going to get cold and when did he last eat and where is the nearest bathroom.

Tara | 2:01 PM

This post reminds me of the very first post I ever read of yours, the very first post that has had me hooked ever since.

It was the one when Hal fed Fable Bananacado as per your instructions to give her Banana and Avocado... a day in the life of parenting.

Have fun on your trip!

js0512 | 3:07 PM

Comment was eaten! I will echo what Megan D said. The weather here in MI is unpredictable. But it's been 40 the last few days. Warm for December here. Don't listen to the weather when you're here. The weatherman says 80 and sunny? There might be a blizzard. This won't help your packing, but pack anything and everything. Bikinis, parkas, etc. You never know what you're going to get. I feel special that you're coming to my state! And my daughter was conceived in L.A. nine years ago, so those two things pretty much make us BFF's. Welcome to Michigan!

Cara | 4:55 PM

You've got it right. Everybody will be alive and the children will be happy; the rest is details. (Hal may need a few hours in a quiet room, though.)

Mama Cas | 6:06 PM

Great post...great point. Dad's don't get the job done in the same way, but they still get the job done. If you come home and your children are alive and smiling? He got the job done.

Enjoy your trip!

Kate | 6:19 PM

I think I must be a mean wife or something, b/c I just couldn't bring myself to do all of the clothes laying out and food preparing stuff for my husband if I went away and left him with the kids for a few days. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure he wouldn't do things exactly as I would - the house might be messier, the kids less stylish, etc., but at base I have to remind myself that he is, after all, an adult. He somehow managed to feed himself before I was in the picture!

Hope this isn't coming off the wrong way - I'm not trying to be rude. And I think you are being nice to Hal to look out for him (and the kids) in this way. I guess I just saw my mom do this kind of thing for my dad for DECADES, and it's one of those things that I therefore can't bear to repeat (for no particular reason, I suppose).

The Beckster | 9:40 PM

Random question - what kind of unprocessed foods do you feed them? Just curious because we eat a LOT of processed foods and I feel kind of guilty for feeding that to my little one but I don't really know much about all the 'healthy' eating. What's a typical dinner or lunch?

Unknown | 8:55 AM

He's an awesome dad.

The end.

Mamalang | 9:19 AM

As the mother of 3, the oldest a teenager, I had to learn to let go of doing it all for him. I've learned the point of your post...he'll do it his way, and it won't be the same, but they will survive. And my kids appreciate the order in our life day to day a lot more for it.

Have fun! I hope there is something REALLLLYYYY good for you in Michigan.

Mo | 12:10 PM

I just left my 3 year-old with her daddy for two weeks while I dealt with a family emergency in another state. Somehow, he managed. When I came back, she was...FINE. FINE! AS IF IT WAS TOTALLY OKAY THAT I WAS GONE!!

Oh, yeah! that the guy I chose to spawn with...he's awesome. Your kids will be fine.

(I expect this all to come up in therapy, someday. For one of us.)

Anonymous | 2:02 PM

single parenting is WAY, WAY, WAY easier than co-parenting. No matter what they all say.

Evan | 3:00 PM

Nice article. Thought-provoking, it really is.

I have to voice out that both moms and dads should share that necessary burden of making it fun and regulated for the kid.

Ray | 4:45 PM

"We'll all sleep in the big bed and we'll cuddle and watch movies and go to the park and we'll draw pictures and we'll paint paintings and we'll go to the Zoo and the farmer's market and we'll save the world and cure AIDS and build a hovercraft and bond."

^^I love this! Especially the "hovercraft" part. Reminds me of my father. ;o) It's cute how excited Hal is. I hope you have fun on your trip to Michigan. And have a safe flight!

Take, care.

P.S. I love the title of this post. I liked that movie (Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead).

Unknown | 8:03 PM

This is great for all of you. Dad gets to do things his way, the kids get some intense dad time and you GET AWAY ;)

My kids are older (17 and twins 12) and twice in the past 3 years I have left them with Dad and gone with my sis to visit my other sis in Europe for 12 days at a time. Fabulous adventure. And oh how I was appreciated when I got back!

Get Hal used to being in charge solo, someday you too will appreciate being able to have solo adventures and not worry about the kidlets :)

Bex | 4:42 AM

You probably already know this, but Dooce recommended your book on her blog yesterday! Which can only mean one thing: a very Merry Christmas for you and yours, considering she's like the Oprah of the Internet. Congratulations :)

Tracie | 1:11 PM

I was a nervous wreck the first time I left my husband with our kids and they had a blast! He took them to the park to ride bikes and wade in the river. They went out to eat and played and played and played. I thought they would miss me and they didn't! Hal will do a great job. Enjoy your time away and go home refreshed!

Katiedidtoo | 3:32 PM

I laughed harder at the bananacado story than any other blog ever. Tears running down my face and gasping for breath.

I feel bad that I am hoping for a followup!

Brooke - Little Miss Moi | 6:32 PM

Sprog and husband were both at home the day the Sprog was scheduled for her shots. Mr Moi and I decided to make a family thing of it and get our H1N1 shot at the same time. So Mr moi picked me up from work, and in the back seat was a baby naked for all but her nappy. His reasoning was that it's hot in Darwin, and babies don't need clothes. I yelled at him.

Two weeks later, we go to the doctor because Mr Moi and the Sprog are both sick. He picks me up from work once again, and once again the Sprog is clothed in naught but a nappy.

Dads hold their parenting skill to a totally different standard, methinks.

Anonymous | 6:51 PM

Fable needs to be off the bottle at her age. Maybe Hal can bottle-break her while you're away.

jessica | 7:32 PM

better than the story is the title!! and speaking of that movie there is a line that i quote often and then get looked at like a moron- "i'm right on top of that rose!" hahaha!people are always like what? who is rose?

Caitlin Carroll | 9:15 PM

First off, if Fable wants a damn bottle, who are you to care, anonymous!? I hate it when people critique other's parenting. Ugh. Second, I have to constantly remind myself that my husband is not a babysitter, he's a parent, just like me. He does things quite a bit different, and sometimes they make me nervous, but in the end he loves Atticus just as much as me and would never do anything but what he thinks is best! And he has just as much right to do things his way-- he's my equal partner and we created this little guy together.

Meemo | 10:04 PM

Dad's are more fun because they can play without a worry about the dishes in the sink or the piles of laundry. But boy do they have fun. And so should we. If only I could let go of all the parenty stuff and just have fun. Ahh, to be a man.

Stacy | 9:38 AM

My son drank a bottle before bed until after his second birthday. And now he's almost three and a freaking genius baby who knows the lyrics to every song he's ever heard and can say the alphabet and the Pledge of Allegiance and just last weekend he discovered a cure for the common cold and bad hair days.

Okay, so maybe the last part isn't true. But give him a few months.

Who the hell cares if Fable's on a bottle?

The Irish and the Jew | 11:08 AM

single parent here. longtime lurker, first time commenter. i think the co-parenting vs. single parenting thing can't be generalized because my first reaction was, "single parenting is not less, but the same amount of work as co-parenting is!", which tells you who i was married to...i think it all ultimately depends on the partner you choose and only speaking for myself, how much control you are willing to relinquish while still maintaining your sanity and perspective.
chicagoan here. pack a sweater! ugh...
(thanks for your blog)

Alyxmyself | 12:09 PM

ok, wierd name is jessica and I have been using that line (and explaining it)since the movie came out. Thats funny. Twinsies.

@anonymous re: bottle--step off bitch.

I get that you are laying out outfits etc because it makes *you* feel better about going.
I'm that way too.
And I'm going to Long Island to help my g/f clean out her dad's house this week as a Floridian! I went to a thrift store and bought a vintage trench cause hello? no money. $17 baby, yeah haha.

Congrats on Dooce's book plug I hope you get lots of christmas sales.

Living Treasures | 2:57 PM

Hope you had a great trip and didn't worry too much about the kids. We seem to worry about the dad's taking care of them. Things aren't always done the way we want them, but the kids are loved and cared for none the less.