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My husband’s travel schedule from work can either be really low-key or all out. Right now, we’re coming up on an all-out season, and my husband travels a lot right now… so he’s out of the house. A lot. My house feels a little out of sorts when he’s not around, and, on top of that, I never really sleep well when he’s not there (admittedly, I come by it honestly that I’ve never really slept well when something’s off or someone’s not there). I feel hypervigilant and a little on edge, my body poised to be in an alert mode when my husband travels.
In talking with some girlfriends, it sounds like it’s a season that a lot of us are coming up on. Some spouses are traveling in order to close a deal. Some are traveling because they’re in the insurance claims business, and their territories require more hands on deck. Whatever the reason, a number of folks are flying solo right now, and they’re keeping the home fires warm while their spouse travels.
Because of the nature of my husband’s work, this is an area that I have some experience in! Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve found these tips and tricks that work for us when my husband travels and I’m parenting solo.
5 Parenting Tips to Help You Out When Your Husband Travels for Work
Keep a Workable Countdown (If Possible!).
Fortunately for us, when my husband travels, we have a relatively good idea of how long he’ll be gone. Sometimes, it’s a night or two, other times, it’s more than a week. Now, my children are pretty young and may not understand that Daddy will be home on the 15th, but they do understand seven big sleeps (that’s overnight sleeps, not naps). So for us, this parenting tip of counting down the big sleeps can help us. A lot.
But what do you do if you don’t have an end date? My friend, Caitlin, over at soTEXAN has some pretty good tips and tricks for that.
Check-In When It Works.
This parenting tip requires a little finesse and tact. When my husband travels, sometimes his day is going to go well, and he’s going to be in a great mood! We can catch him in the evening, and we can chatter away about our days, brag about our accomplishments, the nine. Or we can catch him close to bedtime, and he can recite certain books from memory over the phone while I flip the pages for the kids.
Other days? Not so much.
On those days, maybe we limit our phone calls to a quick I love you! On those days, maybe we text pictures of what we’re doing instead. On those days, we try pretty hard to read the room (as it were) and see when and how we can check-in. Touching base can be great for all of us because it reminds everyone that home base is still there when we all get back together… which can be an uplifting reminder for everyone.
Stick to Routines… with Wiggle Room.
When my husband travels for work, the routines fall to me so I try to keep things as close to normal as possible. Fortunately, with a kindergartner, we definitely have a school schedule to stick to so we have that built in. We have our morning routine of waking up, brushing teeth, getting dressed, and heading out the door. The kids have a full day at school, and I pick them up at their normal time. I want to keep that consistency because I want to help keep more of the disruption at bay.
However, I’ll also try to find a little wiggle room to cut me a little extra slack. For example, my kids have swimming lessons during the week, and normally, my husband goes home right after work to make dinner so it’s ready when we walk in the door. But when my husband travels, he’s not there to make dinner for us. And, to be totally honest, they’re often famished when they finish with swimming lessons. So on those nights, I call an audible and take them to Chipotle.
Which is really a winner for all of us. In a lot of ways.
When my husband travels, I try to keep our traditions and routines pretty close to normal, but sometimes, for my sanity and time, an audible can feel like a special treat and a special occasion just between the kids and me.
Create Reminders Around the House.
My daughter loves my husband. For as long as I can remember, she’s called him her best buddy. So sometimes when my husband travels, it can be a little hard for her because she misses him something fierce.
Outside of calling or texting or Skyping when we can, I like to create little reminders around the house for her so that she knows that, even though he’s not physically here with us, he’s still here with us.
One trick that works really well for us is actually inspired by a daycare parenting tip! When my kids started at daycare, I would send unwashed shirts of ours with them to school so they would have something that smells like us to help comfort them and aid in the transition from home to a new environment. This idea dawned on me one night when my daughter was really struggling, and we made a Daddy Pillow.
It’s way not fancy, and you don’t have to get Pinterest DIY crazy for it. I simply rummaged in our laundry hamper to find an unwashed shirt of my husband’s that wasn’t too funky and put it over one of our pillows for her to snuggle with as she drifted off to sleep.
Y’all, this did the trick! Did she stop missing him? No, she still felt a little sad that her daddy was away. Did it give her a sense of comfort and something tangible to snuggle with and remind her of him? Absolutely.
Take Care of Yourself.
This one can kinda feel a little weird. When I’m parenting solo, it feels like the last thing I have time to do is take care of myself. There are the kids to shuttle to school. Lunches need to be made. After-school activities to be attended. In that hectic frenzy, why would I include a parenting tip about taking care of yourself?
Oftentimes with young families, you have to be the responsible one. You’re on duty. You’re on guard. You listen for the bumps in the night. You’re the wiper of tears and the soother of fears. A lot falls on your shoulders, and I believe that’s when it’s most crucial to take care of yourself when you’re flying as a solo parent.
Now, I’m not saying that this means you need to find a 60-minute yoga class or go meditate in the woods. That may be time away which seems like a far-fetched luxury. But maybe you can take five minutes to deeply breathe while the kids are watching TV. Maybe you can enjoy a glass of wine after the kids are asleep. Maybe you can sneak out of bed 10 minutes before everyone wakes up and enjoy a cup of coffee. Maybe you pop open your group text with other mothers and vent to someone who understands about why you just can’t take another episode of Paw Patrol because good gracious Marshall is so clumsy and you don’t understand why Skye doesn’t get more screentime and seriously what is going on with Adventure Bay’s infrastructure that they have to rely on a teenager and puppies to solve their problems.
That last one may or may not be inspired by a true story.
What I’m really saying with this parenting tip is that it doesn’t have to be a thing but it does need to be something that you can do for you to take care of you.
So there you have it. 5 parenting tips that will hopefully help you out when your husband travels. Do you have any other parenting tips? What works for you and your family? Tell me below!