When I was pregnant with our first child, my husband was routinely working several hours away and often had to stay overnight for meetings. It was just the two of us, so the distance was easy to manage until I found myself admitted to the hospital in preterm labor while he was on the road. Living in south Mississippi, I have several friends whose husbands work offshore, and I’m always amazed by how they manage their homes and families while their husbands are away.
Being a parent is comparable to being the logistics coordinator for a small organization. Who has practice this afternoon? Where is the game tonight? What will everyone eat for dinner? How will they all get home? Throw in an unexpected illness and a trip to the doctor, and your well-planned schedule looks like a tornado just tore through town.
Managing all of the details is hard enough when you have a partner to work with. Doing it all on your own as a single mom or even for a few days or weeks at a time? I can’t even imagine how challenging it can be.
Whether you’re trying to stick to the normal bedtime routine or trying to help your spouse with travel details and plans, here are a handful of ways to help you maintain a calm household while your partner works away.
Figure Out Accommodation
As much as you worry about taking care of your children while your spouse is away, you will also worry about him or her, too. Are they traveling late at night? Are they staying in a safe and secure place? Are they taking care of themselves? It may give you peace of mind to get involved with finding their accommodation while they’re working away. There are a number of high-quality short term rentals and corporate housing options that will help to ease your mind while they are away from home. Knowing where they are and that they have a comfortable place to stay is one logistic you can take care of together.
When my husband and I were living in Houston for his radiation treatments at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, we found housing through Joe’s House, a site designed to help cancer patients and their families find lodging. Often, hotels and apartments listed on the site have lower-than-normal rates, which is helpful if you are running two households like we were at the time.
It was also nice to have a place that enabled our kids to come and visit comfortably and feel as if they knew where we were and what we were doing. If your spouse is working away for an extended period, letting your family be part of choosing housing and taking time to visit if possible might help everyone through the transition and the time apart.
Clear Your Schedule
If you’re new to flying solo as a parent for a while, it might not be the best time to overload your calendar with social activities or work meetings if you can avoid it. Having a full schedule is only going to make you feel more overwhelmed and stressed while your partner is away. Focus on managing your usual activities so you aren’t putting additional strain on yourself while you’re solo parenting.
Bring in Some Help
If you’ve got a good friend, neighbor, or relative who can come over and help you out, don’t be afraid to ask. Knowing I had a few friends and family members on standby while we were traveling to and from Houston on a regular basis made things so much easier. It also gives kids peace of mind to know there’s a backup who can pick them up from practice if you get caught at another event or appointment. Make sure your kids know who they can call.
It can be tempting to try to do it all yourself. I mean, none of us like to ask for help, right? The truth is, however, that allowing others to help you is part of being in community with them. Return the favor when and how you can. Serve one another, and in doing so, you not only manage your kids, you set an example for them.
Stick to Your Usual Routines
One of the pitfalls of solo parenting from time to time is the temptation to let your schedule be a little lax. Later bedtimes? Just this once. Not up for your normal sit-down supper? Pizza in the den works just fine. The thing is even when one parent is away from home it is still important to stick to the same routines and rules as usual. Kids will find comfort in the familiar, and life will run more smoothly if you don’t make too many changes. I’m not talking about a treat every now and then or a movie night for the fam. I’m talking about keeping to your usual pattern as much as possible because Having a structured family routine is important for children, and it’s even more important when someone in the house is away for a while. It will help if you can also have a routine for calls or Facetime with your spouse. Kids will look forward to it, and it will help them stay connected.
Remember, eventually, your spouse will be home, and things will need to get back to normal. The transition will be easier if your routine isn’t interrupted.
If your spouse often works away, what are some ways you manage the madness?
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links.