Matt has had to travel off and on with his job for the last 2 years. His average trip is 3 days, but he has had a few that were about 5 days. I’ve been so thankful that the trips aren’t longer, even if they are frequent at times! I have to keep the right perspective for myself as I’m preparing for him to be gone, while he’s gone and even after he gets back. It has been a challenge for me to switch in and out of the ‘parenting together’ and ‘parenting as a single mom’ mentalities. One thing that I have to remember is that when Matt is gone (be it during the work day or on a trip,) I’m not doing it on my own, I’m doing it on his behalf! It’s even more important to be on the same page (about discipline, character goals, etc) when he isn’t there to talk through the every minute things.
Remember that you aren’t alone! There are lots of husbands out there who travel! And your friends really want to see you (and the kids) even if your hubby isn’t around. See if you can break up your time with a visit with friends, keep up your ‘normal’ routine (make it to Bible study, choir practice, church, go to story time, etc) and try to plan some fun things for yourself too! On a few of Matt’s longer trips I have even gotten a babysitter or left the kids with friends so that I can get a few kid-free hours. I like to try doing some fun things for the kids too:
- picnics in the park (or on the kitchen floor in the winter)
- pretending you are on an airplane trip (I read an article somewhere where one mom did this ALL day – an in-flight movie, dimming the cabin lights, snack/beverage tray, etc!!!)
- making a craft for dad (card, picture, welcome banner …)
- helping to do something special for him – baking a dessert, doing some chores that Daddy usually does, getting ready for him to come home
- put up a map to show where Daddy is and where you are (my kids LOVE this!!! We have a US map on the kitchen wall and highlight all the places Matt goes, and where family is too!)
It really helps to know how your husband best feels loved and encouraged. Then you can have some basis for doing things to connect with him while he is gone. Matt is really a words person and feels love by being listened to and by hearing encouraging words. This is great for us since we can still make use of our cell phones and e-mail (when he is working long hours or in a different time zone) to stay connected and just doing that is an encouragement for him! Doing practical things around the house so that he isn’t bombarded with a ‘to do list’ when he gets home is always a good thing too!
Ways that we stay connected and encouraged (both him and me/us!):
- cell phone calls in the evening, if possible to pray before bed with the kids
- web cam: Seeing each other is so helpful, especially on the longer trips. If timing doesn’t work out for the kids to Skype with Daddy, he often records a video to send in an e-mail for us!
- taking silly pictures and e-mailing them to him is always good for the spirit
- mowing the lawn, shoveling the drive/walk, emptying the trash so that he doesn’t have to worry about those things when he comes home tired
- reading the same book and talking about it during our phone calls
- and I echo all of the things that the other ladies have already written about …. what great ideas!
Well, apparently I could go on and on about this! And I still have SO much to learn about how I could be a better stay-at-home-while-you-travel-wife-and-mom!