Last weekend I attended my first wedding as a solo parent. I was pleasantly surprised what a great time I had. I’d been nervous about how challenging it might be to manage my daughter on my own for the whole day. Having two great friends there who were eager and willing to help really made all the difference. I was really happy that I had such a lovely time.
For anyone who feels hesitant about attending a wedding as a solo parent I have shared my top tips and advice:
1. Leave way more time than you think you need to get ready
I got up at 6.30am with my 14 month old daughter Daisy and we left the house at 12. Most of that time was spent getting ready! Not having anyone else to take turns looking after her, significantly increased the time it took to get us both wedding ready. I find it helps to leave way more time than you could possibly imagine necessary. That way you are not doing any last minute panicking or rushing.
I always have to remind myself it can take about 20 minutes from leaving the house to actually setting off. This is due to the time it takes to pack the car, get Daisy settled in the car seat, rushing back into the house for everything I have forgotten and setting up the sat nav ready to find where we are going.
2. Plan your outfit wisely
I made a slight fail in this area that I have learnt from for next time! I wore a white top with a pussy bow. The top had sticky handprints all over it quite soon after arriving! The bow was untied for more time than it was tied! On the plus side, this did count towards child entertainment during the ceremony!
3. Plan out how you might be able to manage around naps
I was lucky that the timings of the wedding perfectly coincided with nap time. This meant that Daisy slept the whole way there. If it had been different timing, I would have planned to leave earlier so that naps still coincided with time in the car, if at all possible. The difference I find with a well rested child is significant. I find a tired, grizzly child so much harder to deal with, especially with no one else around to take a turn looking after her.
4. Bring something that will entertain during the ceremony
The nerves you experience wondering whether it will be your child who kicks off during the ceremony are real! I brought raisins in a little tub with me, which are a sure fire distraction for my daughter. When she started getting restless I whipped out the raisins and she was engrossed in them for at least 20 minutes. Bring whatever works for you to make sure you can keep your child entertained during these critical times.
5. Gladly accept the help of anyone who will entertain your child for a period of time
One of the things I find hardest about being on my own, is being 100% responsible for the entire day. It seems there is danger at every corner, especially when your child is just learning to walk and having to be alert with no one else to take a turn and relieve you can be exhausting.
When someone offers to take over for a bit, I gladly accept the help. Even just having a 5 minute break can recharge the batteries and allow you to be able to have an uninterrupted adult conversation!
6. Don’t be proud, take advantage of any help offered
As well as help with childcare, any other practical help can be really useful. I had got into the habit of saying that I was fine and didn’t need help, but now I am getting used to happily accepting it.
When we arrived at the venue the car park was pretty full, so we had to park quite far away from the venue. One of the kindest things my friend offered me was to move my car to right outside the door later on in the evening. This meant that when I was leaving, my car was really easily accessible. Small gestures like this are super appreciated.
7. Bring pyjamas for the evening (for baby not you!)
I changed Daisy into her pyjamas at the usual time, trying to follow the same routine as always. This way, when I put her in the car at the end of the night on the way home she was ready for bed and fell straight asleep.
8. Don’t overstay your welcome
I was having a lovely time and would have loved to stay all evening, but my daughter had other ideas. She’d stayed up a good while past her bedtime and enjoyed herself and all the attention she was getting, but there came a time in the evening when she hit a wall. That was the time we needed to leave. Understanding you’ll possibly have to make a move earlier than you’d like, is better than not being able to make it at all. I think it’s fine to eke out bedtime later than usual, but only up until a certain limit.
I was really pleased I took my daughter with me as I had a really lovely time hanging out with her. I had considered going on my own and asking Granny Bev to babysit, but decided I’d rather spend the day together, and I’m really glad I did.
For any solo mums who are interested in discussing how they can best manage mothering solo, you can check out Thriving Solo, a group coaching course that explores this subject in more detail.