Here I am entering week two of four of my husband being away for Army Training. But I have to be honest it is feeling much more like week four but we are surviving. Whenever I share that my husband is traveling I always have people telling me they couldn’t do it themselves. While yes it is very hard, it is also something you just have to put your big girl pants on and deal with! When I was thinking about writing this and all the times my husband has had to travel (and I’m not talking gone for two nights this is about longer trips) I realized that I am like a semi-pro at this husband being away and Mom solo parenting thing. After a 25 month deployment, many overseas trips, and countless trips across the country, I have learned quite a lot about how to handle all that comes with your husband being away. But that doesn’t mean it ever gets any easier because it really doesn’t.
I’m sharing some of the things I have learned in the past 9 years on to how to cope while your husband traveling in hopes to make things easier. I know how hard it is so take a deep breath and hang in there Mama!
Be Easy on Yourself
I mean this in every sense of the word possible. Is the laundry overflowing? Be easy on yourself do it later. Did you just eat take-out for the second day in a row? Be easy on yourself Mama the kids are probably loving it. The key to surviving your husbands traveling is to be able to let things go and make things as simple as possible for yourself.
One of the things I do to make things easier is to buy paper plates. We eat off paper plates the majority of the time while Mike is away because it helps make clean up easier and reduces the number of chores I’m taking on.
I also try to simplify my meals. I’m not making a huge meal with lots of ingredients instead I’m making simple meals my kid love. Now In full honestly I do order take-out because, one it is easy and two, I truly look forward to take-out nights! We usually do this once or twice depending on the length of time Mike is away.
Being easy on yourself means you are taking the time to recognize that you are taking on A LOT with your husband being gone. Especially if you have kids! So take a look at your schedule and routines and see where you can cut some corners to make life a little easier while your husband is traveling.
Plan Something Fun
Having a plan to do something fun not only helps the time go by but it also gives you and the kids something to look forward to. Now I’m not suggesting you take your three kids by yourself and head to Disney solo because I’m pretty sure that would just result in a whole lot of stress. Instead, make plans that are manageable for you. Taking the kids to the pool, visiting family in out of state, trying new ice cream places, and random spur of the moment activities are all that we have planned to kill the time while Mike is away for the next month. I like to tell the kids the day that Daddy leaves all that we have planned and the dates on when we will do what because it helps take away the sadness they feel that day.
I also put in a disclaimer to let them know that things are subject to change because we all know how kids hold you to everything you say like some sacred promise that can’t be broken even if mother nature brings torrential rain on the day you were supposed to visit the zoo!
Growing up my Dad traveled for work and I can remember Mom letting us have a “picnic” inside where we would lay out a blanket and eat our Kid Cusine that she only let us get on nights Dad was away for work. Something as simple as that brought some of the best memories for me.
Nonetheless, we fill our time with planned fun, unplanned fun, and days of just doing literally nothing. Whatever you choose to do you will enjoy the memories you are making. Your kids will remember them too.
This one. This one can be tough. While you feeling like your drowning in housework, kids have been terrible all day, and you’ve had zero and I mean zero time for yourself, your husband calls and he just got out of a dinner meeting where he had the “best filet mignon” of his life. You look down and you’re eating the kids leftover mac n’ cheese from the pot (because you don’t want to dirty another dish) or maybe it was just then that you realized you didn’t even get to eat at all…this my friends is when the resentment will kick in.
When Elise was only one month old Mike began traveling for his civilian job (job outside of the military). So not only was I trying to adjust from going from only having one kid for 6 whole years to having two which is no easy feat, I was doing so alone. I don’t live near family so I was truly alone in this. To add to it Elise developed colic during this time. Mike was traveling in Asia when her colic was at its peak. I was taking her to the doctors weekly trying to solve it and even breaking down crying in the doctor’s office it was that bad. Sure Mike was working but he was getting to visit such amazing places all over Korea and Japan. I resented him and that’s the honest truth.
It is incredibly hard to go at this parenting thing alone while your spouse is away. You get mixed feelings of being resentful that they get to eat good food, visit cool cities, socialize with other adults, and have uninterrupted sleep in a comfy hotel bed but at the same time, you are thankful that they have this job to provide for your family. As a stay at home Mom, I’m extremely grateful that my husband’s job allows me to have the ability to stay home with my kids. So I know during all the hard times I have while he is away for work I have to be understanding. Understanding that it is not always fancy dinners and fun trips but it is work so that we can have the life we have. And for that, I’m more than willing to embrace the suck.
On the flipside, he has to be understanding too. Understanding that the days without him are extremely long. That you will be very lonely. That you are outnumbered and defeated by the days’ end (even midday at times). Understanding that the load you’re taking on is a whole hell of a lot and it’s not just the household work but kids missing their Dad and you trying to overcompensate and be both roles during this time.
It took us a while to understand what each other were going through while Mike was away for traveling. But having that open communication to let each other know how we are feeling and to be understanding was key.
Make Time For Yourself
Ok, so it might be laughable to think you have time for yourself when your husband is away for work, trust me I’m chuckling along with you. But I’m telling you this is a must for your sanity. Even if it means you have to wake up early before the kids get up or stay up a little later or even get a babysitter for a few hours. Giving yourself some time is vital to surviving during your husband’s traveling.
Last week I woke up before the kids and got a little workout in. It felt incredible! I usually wake up when the kids do because I cherish my sleep but I found that just having that little extra time to myself while the house was quiet was so peaceful and calming. It definitely had me in the right mindset and in a good mood that day.
Take a look at your day and see where you can find some extra time for yourself because you deserve it and you need it. I know when I am happy the kids are happier and on days when I’m feeling more grumpy, I’m definitely more quick to get short with the kids. I need time for me even if it is just 30 minutes to workout or to catch up on Housewives. Everyone wins when Mom is happy!
So grab that book you’ve been meaning to read or grab a sitter so you can go shopping and get some coffee for a few hours, whatever it may be, make the time for yourself!
Ask For Help
Things are going to get tough trust me. Especially if your husband is gone for more than a few days. During that dreadful time when Mike was in Korea and Elise had colic I must say I never felt so low in my life. I felt like I was failing and Mike wasn’t there to help me. I really needed help and it’s not that it was offered but that I put on the best poker face and told everyone I was ok and doing fine. I wasn’t.
I am so darn stubborn that one thing that is incredibly hard for me to do is to accept or ask for help. I could have my arm cut off and have it hanging and someone would ask to help me and I’d reply “it’s ok, I got it, but thank you!” That is literally what I say to everyone who offers help. I don’t know why I am the way I am with that but I have recognized that having two kids is tough and it’s perfectly ok to accept and ask for help.
Don’t be like me, take the help that is offered to you or even ask someone for help. I know now that if I’m feeling in a low place like I did back then that I will absolutely ask for help. Have people in mind who you can call who can help that are close to you or even like in my case family who might not live close but would drop everything to come and help you out.
Even just having someone around to socialize with is so helpful because it gets pretty lonely. This weekend my Mom and sister came down to Virginia to help me and earlier this week I spent the day with my angel of a friend. Being with those people this past week has me feeling recharged and more relaxed.
Never feel like you are failing if you ask for help, in fact, it is one of the best things you can do!
So those are my tips for How To Cope While Your Husband Travels. Mike travels a lot but I can’t really say that I’m used to it. Each time brings its own set of challenges but each time I handle it. I’m not one to accept praise or feel like I deserve a medal but when it comes to having a husband who travels a lot I think we all deserve a little trophy or a trip to the spa when they get back, haha!
In all honestly military spouses and spouses who have a loved one who is away most of the time are some of the strongest most resilient women out there so please give yourself a pat on the back and wear that badge proud Mama! You got this and you are a rockstar!