I readily admit that when it comes to my husband’s job, my family is very lucky. His boss is very understanding when I have appointments that mean he comes in late so I don’t have to take the kids. He works longer days, but has almost every other Friday at home. Since our closest family is over 4 hours away, we lean on each other a lot to keep life running smoothly. Two weeks ago, after getting home from our family vacation, my husband had two days before he had to turn around and leave for a business trip.
We have two toddlers and it takes a lot of energy to keep them safe, healthy, happy, and alive. It can be exhausting. And when my husband is away, it can seem overwhelming. But I’ve come up with some tactics I use to keep us all going and happy until he returns.
1- Get out of the house. I’m a weird mix of homebody and restless body, meaning I get stir crazy in the house, but hauling 1- and 2-year olds around can get tiring and, if not timed right, can be disastrous. I try to get out of the house, even just playing in the yard, at least once a day, but especially when my husband is out of town. Whether it’s the grocery store, the playground, or taking the babies for a walk or run in the stroller, getting out of the house helps keep me from feeling sluggish and irritable. Heading out right before dinner time, when he’d be getting home, is a great way to break through the mental barrier of an endless day.
2- Call on friends. Like I said, I can be a bit of a homebody, but I make sure to make plans for business trip weeks. Since some days my husband is the only adult I see, making plans with friends is a great way to get out of the house and have some adult interaction.
3- Make it special. Now, I understand that not every night can be a froyo-for-dinner-picnic-movie night, but I make it a point to have at least one “treat” night or special adventure when their dad is away. It can be anything from a fun trip to the zoo to getting ice cream, a summertime favorite of ours. The goal is to make it special and fun, putting yourself in a thrive-not-survive state of mind.
4- Bedtime phone calls. Between work and business dinners, my husband’s nights can go late, but we make sure that he is able to call around R and J’s bedtime (which, let’s be honest, can take a good half hour). Watching their faces light up during FaceTime is adorable, and him reading books as my daughter turns the pages is heartwarming. It also gives me a chance to see him and talk as he watches our kids play (i.e. skillfully stall).
5- Work hard, play hard. I used to fall into the camp of always, always playing with my kids. I felt I couldn’t clean or write or do anything not kid-related during the day because then I’m not paying attention to them. Independent play was hard for me because I felt like a lazy mom by just letting them play on their own. I was afraid they were lonely and sad that I wasn’t playing with them. But when you’re home alone with kids, the dishes still need to get done. So I’ve started to give them crafts or put on music and they play and dance in the kitchen while I wash dishes. They play LEGOS while I sit with them and fold laundry. This is important, not just during business trips, but day-to-day life. And when the dishes are done and the laundry is folded, we still have plenty of time to play!
Business trips are never something I’m really going to look forward to, but since they are an unavoidable part of his job I’ve learned to make the best of them. Hopefully, these tactics can help if your husband’s away, too (or vise versa)!