As my eyes fluttered open Sunday morning I was comforted by the fact my husband was in bed next to me. My next thought was to not move because I knew as soon as I did, it would start our countdown again. The count down for him to fling his suitcase over his shoulder and walk out the door for who knows how many days. For this past year we’ve lived more apart than together. The affects on our family have been insurmountable and have left us all at times grasping for the day to stand still before he walks out again. It has been eye opening and enlightening for me in so many ways. I have found myself having to learn how to survive when my husband is away.
That may sound a little desperate. I know how to function as a human being and mother. But have you ever seen what happens to a coo-coo clock when you turn it on it’s side? It just doesn’t work right. The same thing happens here. When he’s gone, we just don’t seem to work right. Part of the issue is the travel plans are always uncertain and often times last minute which ultimately results in rearranging our life.
Bitterness. Anger. Resentment.
Yeah so that’s what was happening to me. And I decided that I needed to figure out a better way to survive while he is going through this so I don’t make it worse than it is. Tension runs high here now where it didn’t barely exist before. There is a lot of stress that happens when you’ve spent close to 70% of your year apart from your spouse. ‘It’s challenging’ is most of the time an understatement. So what was I to do…after a lot of lonely, angry, sad and exhausted tears this year, I decided it was time to figure out how to survive when your husband travels for work.
Tips on how to survive when your husband travels for work:
Be intentional. Especially with your time. Laying on the sofa all afternoon watching Netflix because I’m lonely doesn’t cut it because while it’s entertaining me and keeping me from thinking it seems to make the days drag on. So I got super intentional with my time. A little over the top for a work at home mom, but hey it’s helping me. I fill out a weekly Plan Your Work Schedule with every silly thing on it I should be doing and I stick with it. It’s 8:45 am, and I’m walking aimlessly around the island in the kitchen again preparing for another pity party, what am I actually supposed to be doing? Ohhhh yeah, reviewing my daily goals. Back on track! My days are seriously flying by now. Bonus I am getting a ton of stuff done!
Meal Plan. The last thing you need to be doing is stressing over what you are going to be feeding your little munchkins while juggling homework, pick-up & drop-offs, looking for someone’s nasty mouth guard before practice while listening to someone else practice the drums. Just saying, don’t add insult to injury – meal plan. Oh, lucky day, we’ve done it for you…here are weeks worth of meal plans to choose from. You’re welcome!
Take time out. Schedule in some down time in your day to connect with someone real. AKA not to lay on the sofa and watch Netflix. I take the time out when everyone is getting home from school/work. We brew some coffee (our kids are older now), fix a snack, and we all sit around and share about our days. It’s a good late afternoon treat before I start the meal, homework comes out and people start looking for tap shoes. It’s easy for me, my kids can have real conversations now – if yours are little, find a neighbor to walk with, friend to grab a green tea with – something, but face to face real people contact is a must!
Self Care. I’ve been a part of the beauty industry for over 9 years…#1 thing I hear from moms…”I’m too tired to wash my face at night.” Boohoo – we are all tired. Wash your face and brush your teeth and put on actual real pajamas. Just do it, you’ll thank me. Do NOT wait until you are exhausted. Send the kids to get ready (even a 2 year old knows where their pj’s are) and you go get ready for bed too – set the tone for the evening. Turn off the TV and put on some quiet music. And yes, I usually do this around 7 pm, and pick up older kids in my pj’s – I am not ashamed!
Get up! Set your alarm for 30 minutes before the rest of your house has to be up. I know, you’re tired, we are all tired, trust me! Even if you have to snooze 3 times, you’ll still be up before the rest of the house. Being semi awake before the hustle of the morning to have a few thoughts of your own is priceless. Being able to meet the kids when they stumble out of their rooms instead of the other way around will change the whole course of your morning. Not joking one bit. Again, I have quiet music playing, and we chat while we get breakfasts and lunches done. We almost always have good mornings.
Serve him well. I delight in serving my husband. I kinda like him a lot. I love asking him what I can do for him on a daily basis and while he’s gone I miss that. So I find ways to serve him while he’s away. I’m not the only one who is lonely or not wanting him to be gone – keep that in perspective. He most likely is making huge sacrifices for your family – it is way pooh pooh, I get it, just keep it in perspective. Pack him little notes and tuck it in his luggage, send him the little kissy face emoji by itself during the day, and always always tell him goodnight, even if it’s just through text. My hubby is often in a way different time zone, and we do go to bed early here, so often when I’m heading to bed he is still on a job site and we don’t get to talk. Make the house cozy and stress free for him when he gets home. I always double check the bathroom because he’s coming from one that’s been cleaned daily, so even if I don’t have time to clean it, I grab some clean towels for him. Just keep serving him while you’re alone, I promise bitterness can’t live the same place love does.
Be thankful. Keep a gratitude journal, a love letter journal or write scripture. Keep that attitude of gratitude. I always think, ‘he could be one of those men who lost his job in a big corporate take over’ and that would be a whole different ball of stress. Remember, I’m doing this too, so I’m with you, I know it’s hard. If you need an accountability partner, hit me up, I’m happy to create a community of wives who are walking through these same trenches. Even if you don’t reach out, I’ll be praying for you sister because I know some of your struggles.
When he does come home we try to be as intentional with the time we do have together as we can. Focusing on what matters while we are together. Being super present and thankful and centering our hearts on what is good. Exuding gratitude in what we are able to do right now in this season has helped the bitterness, anger and resentment start to melt away. Picking up each other’s pieces and making serving one another a priority even through distance has helped to keep the loneliness at bay. In this we will seek the comfort of knowing this too is just a season we need to walk through. If I’ve learned nothing but this, when we feel like we have no control, we have control over how we respond.
Does your spouse spend a lot of time away traveling? If so, how do you combat the daily blues of being alone? Please share, I would LOVE to create some community around this.
Emily Susanne says
These are really good tips! I know if I was married to someone who travelled a lot, I would struggle. But life happens!
I’ve just gotta say, This made me cry, because i can barely stand it when he’s gone for 3 days once or twice a year! God bless you as you serve him even though he’s away from home! I’m so inspired by your determination to make the days count and keep busy! I’ll definitely remember this the next time my husband has a business trip!
Oh that is so super sweet. It’s been a journey. It’s never easy no matter how long they are gone. I actually used to look forward to the times he would be gone a day or two here and there, sleep overs with our daughter in our room and super super simple dinner times. But the novelty has definitely worn off now. Trying to focus on the positive and being thankful in it all. Thank you for your kind words.
This is such wonderful advice and my heart is so thankful to have found a kindred spirit! It’s so hard having hubby gone – everything really is out of whack! Thanks so much for sharing. <3
Yes for sure – we are all kinds of off kilter over here! Thanks for your message 🙂
I am with you, my husband works 3 weeks (he has to live at work) and then he is home for 3 weeks, so we have a clear schedule, all the same it is very difficult. I only have one still home and she graduated late year and is at work a lot. I have found this to be great me and Jesus time. I try to write extra when he is at work , spend extra time in prayer and in my Bible, and I read a lot of great spiritual growth type books. In some ways I now really enjoy all that time alone, and in some ways I miss him terribly. We have been doing this for almost 3 years now, at first it was 2 week shifts, the change to 3 weeks has been much harder than expected. We can go a year or 2 without him being home for Christmas and all the other holidays, that is the hardest. Time seems to go by so much faster, because you are just working to survive when he is gone and then a whole month as past and you didn’t realize it. God Bless, I feel for you, I will pray for you! 8)
Debra, thank you for your sweet message! It is hard, but we try to keep it in perspective and focus on the positive. I will be praying for you as well. Blessings sweet one.
This is great advice! I’m an Army wife and my hubby is gone a LOT sometimes for 6-8 months at a time! When Daddy’s gone that long sometimes meal planning means rotating our cereals! Praying for you!
Liz, I was praying for you while I wrote this…military wives. I can’t even imagine being separated that long. And YAY for your meal plan 😉 most of my kids would LOVE that!!!
Oh then yes, these would be perfect for that, and you can always make mini muffins too if you don’t want as big of a muffin before bed…who am I kidding?!?