7 Tips For Moms When Your Spouse Travels For Work

spouse travel

Whether you stay at home with your kids, or work during the day, life is just a BIT more complicated when your spouse travels for work. Suddenly, your parenting partner is unavailable during evening hours, and your kids are missing their daddy (all while YOU are missing your spouse!).

A traveling spouse means you’re IT. You and the kids are on your own for meals, activities, bedtime and emergencies.

Per Murphy’s Law, SOMETHING unplanned will happen. At our house, it’s usually a sick child. I’m not sure how this happens, but literally, the moment my husband’s plane leaves the ground, one of my previously healthy children falls ill.

Almost. Every. Time.

Weeks without daddy can be especially difficult when a child is ill. Now, no one is getting out of the house. This means no adult interaction for the mama, and no alternative entertainment from friends, family, school, or activities.

Whether everything goes as planned, or not, here are some practical tips for thriving when we’re the one on our own with our little ones.

 

7 Tips For Moms While Your Spouse Travels For Work

1. Practice Gratitude

I know, I know, you’ve seen me write this before. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but for me, it’s crucial. My situation looks mighty different when I look though a lens of gratitude for all the blessings God has provided to our family, and specifically, to me.

When the weeks or days (or HOURS) get long, remember to be grateful that your spouse HAS a job (hopefully one they enjoy and are challenged by). Savor that your kids are amazing, and that you have the chance to see them every day (and acknowledge that your traveling spouse does not get to)

If you’re a stay-at-home mama, be grateful YOU CAN. It is a special privilege not given to many.

2. Be Flexible

When my husband will be gone, activities have two purposes: to entertain the kids and to give me a little break. Our schedule is selective and is sometimes designed specifically to save my sanity. But, even a well planned schedule has pitfalls; illnesses and cancellations happen. I can’t rely on a carefully planned schedule alone to carry me through the week.

It can be disheartening when you can’t go to activities. WHEN it happens, remember that as the parent, YOU are the one who sets the tone. Bad attitudes are particularly infectious.

BRIEFLY acknowledge your own disappointment and theirs. Console. Then, adapt and move on. SHOW your kids how to be flexible. Even if you ‘fake’ a good attitude at the beginning because you are discouraged, as they cheer up, so will you.

3. Soak It Up

When one parent is gone, you’re IT. You are on-demand. You are needed and wanted possibly more than you’d rather.

When daddy is gone, my kids are more attached to me than usual. They have been known to start getting upset when I leave the room for just a second, and suddenly a bathroom break causes chaos. Sometimes all that attention makes me want to just run away and find a closet to hide in. Even for just. ONE. minute.

When I feel smothered, it helps to remind myself that the kids miss their daddy, and that I need to extend extra grace. I intentionally lower my voice and try to speak gently, even when I’m feeling emotionally raw. I do my best to welcome their requests to be close (as in hugging-my-leg-the-entire-time-I-make-dinner ‘close’). The more available I am, the better their behavior, overall.

So, set those dishes down, leave the crumbs on the floor, and let those little ones climb into your lap. Read to them until you’re hoarse. Love them up, and enjoy every second of it. It may sound cliche, but it really WON’T be this way forever. Do whatever you have to do to remind yourself that these moments are fleeting, even if they feel like they’re taking For..ever.

Let their demand for more of you FILL your soul rather than drain it.

4. Check Your Perspective

During a two-week stretch when the kids and I were all sick and stuck inside, I had a moment of intense jealousy of my traveling husband.

Sure, traveling to Bangkok may sound glamorous, but 30+ hours of travel in a MIDDLE seat, then enduring wicked jet-lag, and FULL days of business meetings (with maybe 2 hours of sight-seeing during an entire week) is just NOT enviable…THEN traveling to Amsterdam with full days of meetings, even more jet-lag for another week, (also with little-or-no sightseeing)…THEN coming home to sick kids and a sick wife….taking care of them while enduring MORE jet-lag….IS. NOT. FUN. It just isn’t. Then after one day home (taking care of us), he was back at work, exhausted, and bombarded with people and problems who needed him. NOW.

My jealousy was absurd and unfair. My bad attitude didn’t help me be patient with the kids (which is why one of my first blog posts was about patience), and I felt drained, cranky and tired. If you start to feel this way, and you think life is more pleasant for your traveling spouse, step back and be honest about what traveling for work is REALLY like. Trust me, the grass is NOT greener on the other side and it isn’t as glamorous as you may assume.

Kick that jealousy to the curb and be grateful you endured your week without jet-lag, and that you slept in your own comfy bed.

5. Stay Connected

Whether you are getting out of the house or not, find ways to stay connected with your spouse, friends and family. Set phone and skype dates with your spouse and KEEP THEM (even if just for 5 minutes). Do the same with friends if you can’t get out because your kids are sick. When healthy, accept invites with friends and setup play dates, or meet a friend to go for a walk or to the park. If you have family in the area, quality time with beloved grandparents, aunts and uncles can work miracles with children who miss their daddy and need some extra loving. And, don’t let being BUSY while your spouse is gone deprive you of your quiet time with the Lord. Staying connected there will remedy a whole lot of problems and leave you feeling refreshed in the midst of what may be chaos.

6. Find An Outlet

Regardless of your next ‘break’ out of the house, you need to find something that gives you a ‘mental’ break. FIND an outlet that energizes and restores you. Look for something to learn, read, do, make, exercise or play. Doing something productive is always a bonus and mood booster.

For me, one of the things that came out of my husband’s travel is this blog. The blog was and IS STILL a necessary outlet for me to write down thoughts. It encourages me to DO something productive and stop vegging out on the couch, eating junk food, and watching garbage TV at night. I do hope you enjoy reading this, but in reality, this blog is for ME (Selfish, I know). I’ve also found an outlet doing some part time work from home, and in craft or DIY projects while the kids are asleep.

7. Ask For, and Accept Help

This is not one of my strong suits…but important to acknowledge and DO! We all need help. Admit it. Accept it. Ask family, friends, or hire a baby sitter if you have to. When someone offers, take them up on it. Also check around your community for other forms of help:

  • Check into events that can lighten your load: See if your church, (or a local church near you) does a meal any night of the week – they often have children’s programming that the kids can attend for FREE. Everyone benefits.
  • Utilize the child care at your gym to give yourself an hour break and to work out: Your body and attitude will thank you.
  • Consider identifying a daycare source if you need somewhere for the kids to go in a pinch: There are some pay-by-the hour places, and some companies have backup daycare for children of employees. Get the paperwork in order, so it is available if you need it.
  • This might be a good time to take advantage of ECFE, Parks and Recreation, and Community Education programs in your area.
  • Check out things like open gym, open swim, or other similar activities that can let your kids play while you watch, sipping a coffee.

 

At times, the schedule may seem grueling and the days may sometimes feel like they go on forever, but we can still do our job as a mom WELL and enjoy it whether our spouse is in town or not. The trips aren’t stopping for us anytime soon, so I would love to know your best tips. What do you do to make the most of the days when you’re on your own with the kids?

 

7 tips for moms when your spouse travels for work

5 Questions to Consider When Setting Your Family’s Fall Schedule

5 Questions To Consider When Setting Your Family's Fall Schedule | thisgratefulmama.com

Hello September.

I can’t believe my second summer as a stay-at-home mom is finished already. Unlike last year, our mornings were free since our daughter dropped her morning nap. With no scheduled activities, we kept a very loose schedule.

The freedom…It. Was. Lovely.

We met friends at parks, went to the zoo (A LOT), ran errands on rainy days, and spent a lot of time relaxing, reading books, and playing at home.

My husband and I allowed bed and nap times to be more flexible than the rest of the year. If neighbor children were outside, we allowed the kids to play longer, and stayed later at events. We also allowed our little one to even skip naps for special family events (although she and WE all paid for that!).

The loose schedule did sometimes yield overtired, overstimulated, unruly and exhausted children. But, because it was summer, we simply stayed home the next day (or two) to get back on track.

While I have enjoyed the flexibility, I am ready for a change of pace.

With no structured activities, I had very few opportunities to spend time with adults (away from the kids). I miss it. Without it, I find myself less patient, and more easily frustrated. Not the way I want to be.

My son will be attending preschool two half-days a week.  I am excited for him to experience new things and meet new kids, but also feel unexpectedly emotional at the same time. He will never be home with me as much as he is now. Starting now, time devoted to school, sports and friends will increase year by year.

This realization that the time we have at home is fleeting makes me committed to make the most of our time this year (of course, while making a concerted effort NOT to smother them). I am looking to maximize quality time at home, while exposing both kids to educational and social opportunities. This summer, we were barraged by flyers for sports, ECFE, swimming lessons, church activities and more. I had a pile of things that looked worthwhile. So much to do…So little time.

As we set the schedule for fall, there is a real need for balance. It is imperative that we avoid the danger of being TOO busy. Being TOO busy will run children and parents ragged. Suddenly activities that are supposed to be fun and begin to cause stress, angst, and lose their effectiveness.

There are SO MANY great opportunities to learn and play, but we CANNOT and WILL NOT do them all.

Here are 5 questions we considered when setting our family’s fall schedule.  These questions helped us sort through what was important and to choose activities wisely. Our answers are noted with each question.

5 Questions to Consider When Setting Your Family’s Fall Schedule:

1. What takes priority?

What are the priorities for your family this year? What activities MUST happen each day/week? This may be different depending on the season. As a general rule, if anything interferes with these priorities, it is unlikely that we will participate.

Our family:

  • We put God first. Church and Small Group every other Sunday night are a MUST.
  • The kids will be allowed to sleep until they wake up MOST days
  • My daughter will have a consistent afternoon nap, otherwise she just is not herself
  • I am committed to staying home all day with the kids at least one day a week to just enjoy them
  • Family dinners are priority
  • Bedtime will be consistent
  • The schedule needs to allow me to run errands, and keep the house in order

2. What is necessary and what ‘would-be-nice’?

Is the activity something that NEEDS to be done? Or is it something that would be fun, or nice to do if time allows?

Our family:

  • Aiden: NEEDS to attend preschool. Swimming lessons, maybe a sport or two during the year, or time to play with other kids ‘would-be-nice’
  • Adelyn: NEEDS the opportunity to spend time away from me and to interact with other children. Swimming lessons ‘would-be-nice’
  • I: NEED one activity during the week that allows me to interact with other adults away from my children. It ‘would-be-nice to have more than one since my husband travels a lot
  • My husband: NEEDS to meet with a group of men from church before work

3. Is the schedule fair?

Once you have the list of activities you’ll participate in, determine if it is balanced (for children AND adults). Each member of the family is ONE of {insert size of family}; the schedule won’t work if it is at the expense of any ONE. Can everyone benefit from this schedule? Does the schedule meet the NEEDS of everyone? 

Our family:

  • The kids and I will attend Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) on Thursday mornings and the women’s bible study at church on Tuesdays. These precious hours allow me to study God’s word and get to know some amazing women. The kids learn about God and play with some very sweet children. These breaks leave me feeling refreshed and restored; they allow me to be a better wife and to parent with more patience and grace
  • My son will attend preschool, two days a week, in the afternoons. He will go just after lunch, and my daughter will go down for her nap right after we drop him off. This gives ample time for her to rest, and I am especially looking forward to some special time alone with her before we go pick him up.
  • We signed my son up for a 4-week gymnastics class during the month of September, along with 2 neighbor kids. It starts early enough in the evening that we can have family dinners when we get home (as long as I plan ahead), and is a chance for us to see how things go having another activity in the schedule.  

4. Is it feasible?

Can you meet your priorities, and make it to everything without undue stress? Is there enough time between activities?

Our family:

  • Our current planned schedule does allow me to run errands and clean the house during the week
  • Our schedule will allow me time to prep meals and for family dinners, and does not interfere with the kids waking up, nap time, or bedtime.
  • Our Thursday schedule was NOT feasible. We were going to attend a BSF class across town (where our friends are) but it would not be feasible to get eat lunch, and get to preschool on time without undue stress (and even then we might be late). SO, we transferred to a different class, which allows us more time

5. What needs to go?

If the schedule looks full, are there some activities you can put off until later in the year? Is there an activity that needs to be given up? Have you taken time to ASK your child what they want to continue doing, or if there is anything they would rather do instead?

Our family:

  • We want both kids to do swimming lessons this year. With the school year just starting, we’ll get into the swing of things and see if we can add classes on Saturday mornings during the second fall session
  • If any activity is causing undue stress, frustration, over-stimulation, fear, or just isn’t going well – we will reassess and determine if we will continue or not

 

5 Questions to Consider When Setting Your Family’s Fall Schedule | thisgratefulmama.com

A Salute to Working Moms

I could write an entire post (or a book?) on the joys, stresses, and challenges of being a stay-at-home mom. But today, I am writing about working moms. Moms who manage a household, parent their children and love their family, all while effectively doing a full-time job out of the home.

Let me also pause here to note that having my husband travel 3+ days a week for much of this year has given me new perspective on single parents. Of you, I. AM. IN. AWE.

I worked full-time for 2.5 years after my son was born. I transitioned to staying home when my daughter was born, over a year ago. I’m glad I was able to experience both. A day on each ‘job’ may be different, but both job has value, meaning, and sincere EFFORT put into them by hard-working and amazing moms.

Regardless of their ‘day job’, women in BOTH roles LOVE their kids and are dedicated and beloved mothers and wives.

A day in the life

Here are 5 Ways I Admire Working Moms:

1. Punctuality

Getting my 2 kids up in the morning, fed, dressed, bags packed and in the car, ON TIME is not easy. If it has to be by 7:00 or 8:00 am, as many of you do for work, it is plain old HARD. How you get your children (and their STUFF) ready, then off to daycare or school, and ALSO get yourself ready and to work is an amazing feat.

2. Flexibility

You hear a noise at 5 am and find your child coughing and feverish. Your planned schedule or maybe that big meeting is blown to bits. When things don’t go as planned, working moms adapt. You MASTER scheduling. You quickly find alternate care and make every effort to meet obligations at home AND at work.  I know most moms do not have the LUXURY of working from home in a pinch like I did, so you selflessly use precious and well-earned vacation time to watch your kids.

3. Super Mom

Working a full day, and doing the job WELL takes a lot out of you. THEN, working moms quickly transition during what I consider to be the most chaotic period of the day. The kids are hungry, getting tired, have homework, and can be cranky. They are full of energy and stories of their day. A moment of quiet is not going to happen, and the parent is both cook and referee.  You worked all day, but you willingly help with their homework, spend quality time together, and have time to make it to their sporting events. You know that quality parenting isn’t about the number of hours spent together, but rather HOW those hours are spent. You are a blessing to your kids, and being selfish with the time you have outside of work isn’t your style.

4. Keeping House

Building off of #3, you feed your family healthy meals despite having very little time to do so. You spend your evenings and weekends making sure laundry and grocery shopping get done. You clean your house, keep your lawn looking pristine, and you are an amazing wife, mom, friend, and MORE. So much to do, so little time. All that you accomplish defies the rules of time.

5. Sleep deprivation has nothing on you

My son hardly slept the for the first 15 months of his life. I was a walking zombie.  I was exhausted ALL the time and my job really required me to be on time and to focus. When my son fell asleep at 5 am, I had to GET UP and get ready. Going back to sleep was not an option. Staying home, we can sleep until we wake up. The opportunity for me to take a nap is not frequent, but it is a real POSSIBILITY. Working moms do not get naps. You give your job your full attention. You do sometimes highly complex and demanding jobs WELL, despite sporadic (or consistent) sleep deprivation.

 

Working moms, while these are 5 reasons I admire you, trust me, there are more. I hope this encourages you today.

5 reasons