I’ve been a mom for almost 5 years and my husband has been traveling for work several times a year, a week at a time. When Reece was an infant I would be so freaked out. The few days leading up to my husband’s work trips would be fraught with stress. Fast forward 4 years and being the occasional Work Widow hardly phases me anymore. Oddly, weeks when my husband is away seem easier than when he’s not traveling.
So what changed? How did I learn to deal? A few things happened.
It Takes A Village
Before I felt comfortable going solo for a week I would recruit help. There was a high school student who lived across the street from us who would come once or twice to help out at dinner time (the home stretch). I would also ask/beg/pester my brothers to come by for company. There’s no shame in asking for help. We are willing to help our friends and family but afraid to ask them. Just ask! Be shameless!
Have a Plan
Meal prep is the first step. The Sunday before a trip is the perfect time to do this. Crock pot meals that go in a bag and are frozen until the day of are great. Pasta and soup meals are quick and easy meals when you’re burnt out at the end of the day and don’t want add more to the todo list. Why make a big meal then having do wash several pots and pans? I will also plan on one pizza night during the week.
It’s more than just food planning though. I like to know what we have going on for the week before it begins. If there’s a day without classes or school, set up a play date or plan to go to the gym. If you’re going to stay home then think of a few small crafts or games to do.
When my husband is home we get ready for the day in the morning. But, when he’s away, I get ready for the day, the day before. Before going to bed dinner and the house is cleaned up, I make lunches for the next day, and set out the plates and cups for breakfast. All our outfits are picked out so we don’t have waste time in the morning. It helps to have as many todo’s checked off the list the night before so things are rushed in the morning.
I stopped freaking out. I knew I would survive, even if it was stressful. Once I stopped stressing, I realized things were actually easier when it was just me. Only one adult making decisions, only one way of doing things. The kids don’t get wound up seeing dad when he gets home from work so things go smoother, and faster, at bedtime. You need to know that you can do this.
Let Things Go
If you’re stressed or overwhelmed and need a break, give one to yourself. Amping up TV time for a week or two isn’t going to make you a bad mom or ruin your child. Order pizza or reheat frozen meals. When one parent is away for work things are going to function differently. Don’t guilty for doing more of this or less of that.
It’s not to say that I don’t want my husband around, but when I know no one else is going to do something (like dishes or get kids dressed) I’m not annoyed when I HAVE TO do it. Being on survival mode can take it’s toll and it feels like a disconnect in our marriage when we don’t have face to face time. Setting up a date night or special family outing when Dad comes back gives us a chance to reconnect and bond, plus a little light at the end of a long time apart. Coming back with little gifts doesn’t hurt either.