how do you maintain your routine & how do you maintain your connection? When my husband is home, he really likes a routine, so I instill one. We have tea at 7 am, dinner at 5, wash dishes, bath baby, etc. It's all very predictable every day. But as soon as he leaves, I go off the rails. I eventually settle into a different routine, but then he gets back, and I (and he) have to readjust. How do you do it?
And the connection. Up till now he's only been gone max 6 weeks, but now we're looking at a possible 3 month absence, maybe more. We talk on the phone everyday, but they're not exactly quality conversations. He's usually in the car in between appointments and I'm usually involved with something else when he calls. Tips?
Oh, and if I put this in the wrong forum, please feel free to move. Thanks!
We just do what feels natural. I won't switch the kids' schedules around, it's just too much chaos for them. I figure that if DH wants something to be different, he can make that happen for himself.
For staying in touch, we use skype. It's really good to be able to see him, and the kids can keep in touch that way as well. A phone is hard for a toddler to stay attached to, but a big picture of Dad on the computer screen is something they understand.
I do a little of both. My dh doesn't travel year-round, but he's frequently gone for weeks at a time during busy seasons (spring, summer). He just returned from two weeks away. I maintain a fairly loose routine all the time so that it's not such a huge deal when he comes and goes. Bedtimes stay largely the same, rules don't change, etc., etc.
I think the biggest thing is the sort of activities that we choose. I love to pack a picnic and go to the playground/go for a hike/go to the beach. DH is presently picking up the kids from AM school and is going to take them out to lunch & to the driving range to hit balls. (Clearly, Daddy is waaaaaaaay more fun than Frugal Mom. I am a bit frustrated about this today.)
Ohhh- we deal with this as well. I don't have an answer, but I am usually good at biting my tongue. Not always, but usually. DH would spend a lot on fun outings, whereas I tend to do the picnic/park/hike approach.
Honestly, our routine is very go with the flow and what works. The only routine we have that has been the same day in and day out for most of kiddo's life is her bedtime routine.. pajamas and diaper, then read, then nurse to sleep. Everything else is based on how we feel.
When daddy is home, I DO try to have dinner ready around 6pm but all our meals and snacks and activities are based around how we feel. Sometimes we just don't WANT to eat yet at noon so we have lunch at 2 and a small snack at noon. Sometimes we don't want to go for a walk in the afternoon so we hang out and color with chalk.
It does make it easier to fit daddy back in though since its just based around what we all want.
As for connecting, we are terrible about it. We email a bit and IM and there are calls when he is able to get a phone over there, but mostly we know that 'us' is on hold until he is home. We mostly talk about kiddo and plans once he is home... we just aren't good at anything beyond that when we aren't face to face and close. It works for us though... we just aren't the type of people who can write long letters or talk for hours on skype. We need in person contact to truly connect.
I hold to a rigid, but adaptable schedule. Honestly, that's because I have twins who need the same things at the same time. My husband was deployed for a year. Now his schedule requires that he be gone 6 months consecutively out of every year. We make it a point to talk twice a day on Skype. We have twins so we rotate which baby talks to Daddy when....like one when he calls when he wakes up then the other when he calls before he goes to bed. We take a picture of him in his uniform off the wall and talk about Daddy. A lot of the times when I say "Where's Daddy?" when he is at work, they will look for his picture on the wall and yeall Daaaaaaaaaddddddddddddddddyyyyyyyyyyy til I go get it or look towards the computer screen. DH recorded him singing lullabies and reading different books before he left so we watch those a lot. When he is home, he goes through our regular routine on the weekends to give me a break. He also bathes them at night and will feed them dinner.
honestly, i am far more scheduled when dh is deployed simply because there are less out of the house activities to work around. he's very outgoing and i'm more of a homebody. bedtime routine is sacrosanct, and i try to have dinner ready about the same time every night, but i have found that a good schedule can be the enemy of a good connection when we are dealing with him being gone. when he is home he often works weird shifts, which also throws the schedule out the window. i could either be adamant about a routine, at the cost of natural, spontaneous connection and conversation, or i can just go with what works at that particular time on that particular day.
since your dh likes a schedule, maybe you could talk about what routine elements are really important to his sense of well being and calm and which are negotiable. maybe he has to have dinner ready at a certain time to feel like he can relax, but some other area can be let go a bit?
as far as communication, skype is awesome when my dh is in a port (he's in the navy), but usually we only have email. so we make an effort to have meaningful talks even though they aren't in the format we'd choose. when i email i give him a paragraph of updates about dd, and news of home, but i also make sure to talk about he and i and what's on my mind etc.
this is his first deployment since dd was born, so i don't know yet how we'll adjust when he comes home. when it was just the two of us, each time he came home we took things from scratch - we found out where our relationship was at, and what we needed, and went from there. trying to pick up where we'd left off weeks or months earlier was just unrealistic for us. people change, and for us it was more important to love each other through whatever changes than to maintain a certain way of life no matter what. good luck in figuring things out. i know it's tough.
betsy: wife to tony, mama to haven (7/6/10), arlo (m/c 1/21/12), and expecting valencia in late december.
"we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams" - arthur o'shaunessy
"if there is no dancing then it is not my revolution" - emma goldman
Thanks everyone, for responding. We are bouncing around a few ideas to keep us connected, both as a couple and as a family. We are thinking that I and the baby could travel to where he is and hang out there for a month or so. That might be fun. Or awful, one of the two, lol! Settling into my own cluttered routine here, getting out and doing stuff with the baby & friends, stuff that I might not do if he were here (or at least, not so often). I do wish he could make a decent living closer to him, but we are working on that. Again, thanks for the responses! It's great to know other people are doing the "work widow" thing and also nice to hear how others deal with the challenges.
my DP is gone for average of 2 consecutive months a year but when he is here he is here all the time at home with the kids and i, so its a mixed bag. his longest away was five months. (nothing compared to 12month deployments, you women amaze me!!!)
schedule? i always thought we would fall into one once DS was born but that has never happened, so i can't be much use in that department :-)
as for the connection, we do the chatting and emails more than phone for privacy reasons mostly and i just love it. there's even a proverb in his culture abut the way to a golden marriage is some time apart. i find it true, it keeps us fresh and very much passionate even after 8 years and 4 kids. ;-)
Before this DH was gone several times a year for 2-9 weeks at a time. Now hes going to be gone for between 8-12 months.. Its hard to deal with at times.
For schedules I use to try to fit our schedule around DH since he had to work. I found out as the kids got older though it didn't work. It was hard for them to understand why one day we did it this way and the the next day we did it another way. Now I have (well use to have, Im trying to start it again) a set schedule and DH works himself around it while hes home. If that means its 730 and bedtime and he isn't home then (unfortunately) he doesn't get to tuck the kids into bed. If it means he wants to sleep in on Saturday the rest of us still get up and go about our day as if he wasn't sleeping in. We don't wake him and keep the noise down but we don't sleep in because he wants to. It might sound mean but its the way that works best with our children and before starting it we talked about it. DH agreed he would have to adapt to us not the other way around.
As for keeping in touch/connected this one is hard on me. DH is at a location where they don't have a lot of internet access/access to phones. I get to talk to him maybe once or twice a week if Im lucky and usually that is only on face book. I haven't had a phone/skype conversation with him in going on 3 weeks.. Its hard. I miss him, hes my best friend and I love him so much. However it makes the time we do get to talk even more special. I have his picture up around the house and talk to the girls about him all the time. I make sure they know hes coming home and that he loves them. We talk about what we can do when he gets back (trips to fun locations, introducing him to friends etc). My biggest worry is the baby. T was just 3 months when DH left and he will be over a year old when he gets back. Im scared the baby won't remember DH and that would really hurt DH. DH loves his babies so much, all three of them and missing so much of their lives isn't something he does lightly.