I’ve been married for 15 years. A couple years into our marriage, I had my son. Two and a half years later, I had my daughter. 13 of those 15 years, my husband traveled for work. A lot. In the beginning he was only gone a day or two, here and there. Now, the travel is much more substantial. It’s not abnormal for him to be gone every week day, every single week. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it sucked having parents that travel for work. Since I have been doing it for so long, and with kids the entire time, I put together this handy list of tips to help you survive the travel.
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Parents That Travel for Work – Tips for Surviving
Being a stay at home parents has its own set of challenges, as any job does. However, being a stay at home parent when the other parents is gone a lot, has many challenges that not everyone thinks. It’s not the same as being home with the kids between 9 am and 5 pm. If you only take one thing away from this article, take this. It is important…no it is VITAL that you set up a routine for yourself and the kids. It can be as loose or as strict as you want it to be, but have something in place. Whether it be a set meal schedule and sleep schedule or more rigid with the same things done on certain days of the week. It just matters that your children know what to expect. And it helps you too! Trust me on that!
Thoughts on Mom or Dad Calling Nightly
You have to know your child. If they are the type of child that needs to check in with the parent each night or has the ability to talk with the parent and say goodbye when the conversation is done without getting upset, then by all means, set up a time each night for mom or dad to call. With my children, I was always very matter of fact with them.
“Daddy is gone because he is working to provide for our family so we can eat, have a house, do fun things, etc”
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I never set up a time for my husband to call each night. His schedule was often unpredictable. So the one thing I did not want to have happen is for him to tell the kids that he will call at a certain time, and then something happen and he can’t. For me, it was better for the kids to randomly and periodically talk to him during the week. Thankfully that approach worked very well for them. As I said before, he’s been traveling for the last 13 years. My kids are 13 and 10. They are very used to it. When he does get home, my daughter will talk his ear off and tell him EVERYTHING that went on all week!
Setting Up a Routine
I briefly touched on the importance of setting up a routine. In the beginning, I was very rigid. My kids woke up at the same time every day, they took a nap at the same time every day, and they went to bed at the same time every day. As a result, their mealtimes were also at the same time every single day. As they have gotten older and involved in more things, I’ve had to relax on certain things, but the general schedule shell is still there. They know what to expect and when to expect it. By setting up a routine, it allows for the week to go by smoothly and, in some cases, a bit quicker!
Bringing Gifts Home
Don’t do it! I mean it. Once in awhile is OK, especially when mom or dad travel to a unique place, but gifts every single time will make things VERY difficult on the parent at home. Trust me. I know from experience. My husband used to do this and not only did the kids start to expect it, but it always made me the bad guy. I could be disciplining them for something during the week (or even that day we pick dad up) and then dad gets in the car with a gift. Now…if you want to suggest that the spouse bring YOU a gift each time…that’s OK. I am all on board with that! Just kidding! Well…sort of!
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Don’t Forget to Live
Early on I fell into the trap of not wanting to do certain things because I was worried my husband would be sad he missed out. We spent many years not doing much of anything because of that. Don’t do that! If you want to take the kids to the Science Museum or even a little two night trip to the beach. Do it! Yes your spouse may feel sad that he or she can’t be there, but it’s OK. You will have plenty of other opportunities to do fun things together at another time. Sometimes it just works out better to do these things during the week, rather than waiting until the weekend when it will be crazy busy.
Rely On Friends
This is something I just started to do, even though he has had to travel for work for the last 13 years. I am the type of person that does not like to inconvenience others. However, if someone ever needed help, I am the first person to help. Over the past year, I finally started to rely on friends and asking for help when I need it. It has definitely made things easier. While I still get a little uncomfortable to ask, it is something you MUST do. Unless we somehow figure out how to clone people, you can’t be in two places at once. No matter how hard you try!
While things are difficult for the parent that is home, it’s just as difficult for the parents that travel for work. They miss out on so many things. That’s where you come in. Take lots of pictures and videos. While it’s not the same, I know my husband has always enjoyed seeing the pictures and videos that I text him. And, while it’s easier said than done, try to be patient with the parent that has to travel for work and know that they wish they were home with the family too.