Can anyone give me advice about ways to manage being alone with the kids while dh is traveling? Do you have different rules when dp is away? Do you have special help (sitters or family)? I feel like I handle things ok on my own, but we're always looking for ways to make things easier and less stressful. We do have a sitter who can help out, and sometimes relatives come to stay while dh is gone. I do have friends nearby who can help in an emergency, but sometimes I consider keeping a sitter "on call" at night in case someone needs to go to the emergency room in the middle of the night or in case the whole family is sick with the flu.
We're sort of considering ttc #3, but we're not sure if that's practical with this travel schedule (basically one 4-5 day international trip every month).
Any advice or ideas or btdt would be much appreciated!
mama to H. 4/05 and A. 9/08 and baby C. 10/11
I often make afternoon/evening plans when dh is out of town, I really look forward to dh coming home at night and when he isn't in town I try to make the time from 4 til bedtime fly by for all of us.
We have family in town to call when I need help but there have been times where I've had to ask the mother across the street for on the fly help. Don't be afraid to ask, most people are willing to help!
Things that help keep me sane during the week is having 1-2 nights a week that I go to my parents for dinner. It means I don't have to cook, and DD can play with her grandparents for a bit instead of me.
It sounds terrible, but having DH go away is really not that big a stressor here. In some ways, it takes a lot of pressure off--I do relax on what I cook, and cleaning up, and tend to take it easy while he's gone and just coast for a bit!
The house also doesn't get picked up quite as much. And, when the boys go to bed at night, I usually eat ice cream or some equally bad for me treat and watch a grown up movie (tonight I'm watching "New Moon" from the Twilight series ).
Wife to an amazing man , mommy to 3 wild dudes: ds1 (5/23/05 @ 30 weeks), ds2 (3/5/09) , and ds3 (9/26/10) . Part time librarian, full time mommy, occasional chef and maid.
There have been times when I have had to call a neighbour for help (last time was when I woke up ill and needed the boys to be driven to school) and that was a none issue.
I keep meals easy and cook extra for the next day if possible. if I am really tired then we eat out or order pizza.
Strict bedtime makes life a lot better!
We do everything early. I fix dinner as soon as we get home from school pickup and we eat around 4. Then we get everything cleaned up and generally things are pretty quiet around here by 5:30 or 6. We get in bed at 7, generally we all pile into my bed but sometimes my older boys go to their rooms and read for a while first.
Time in the car is important for my sanity, sometimes. If I need a break from everything I load everybody up, turn on the DVD player and drive over to Starbucks, or Wendys if it's really bad and just drive around for a bit. I always feel refreshed when we get back home and sometimes it leads to a fun outing after I've had my coffee.
I don't have a sitter, but I have a neighbor next door and another friend close by that I can count on if I need to. I think as long as you have one friend who will drop everything if you really need her you're good. And that might not be your best friend, mine's not, but I know if I call her and say I need to take one of my kids to the ER she will be here in less than 20 minutes. And really, even if I didn't have her I know I would work things out, even if I had to drag all of my kids to the ER with me at 3am, if you have to you have to.
I actually can't let things slide while he is gone, he gets home there is no additional time at home just because he is away. He gets home and goes straight back to regular work. The worst is when he travels on the weekends because then for 2 weeks we barely see him. When he doesn't travel, he averages 30- 1 hour with the kids a day, if that, many a day they do not see him at all.
I make things that we like to eat but DH doesn't, like curries. We bake cookies more often, just try to do special things. I used to do fast food or a quick dinner out often but now I am trying to keep that down due to cost. I put dinner in the crockpot early in the day so when things are crazy at night, I don't have to worry about feeding us. Bath and bedtime happens earlier when he is gone because it is a disaster with 3 co-sleeping kiddos.
I do have family nearby but my parents travel very frequently themselves, and only live in this house 4 days a week during ski season so often they are not around. My sister works at the hospital and has a horrid schedule so I can't ask her for anything as well. I've learned to ask friends, use sitters when need be. Last week I had counted on DH to watch the two little ones while I had a work meeting and then he left town with one day's notice, that was rough. So now I know I need yet another sitter in my cards.
it was tough. i had no help and i was responsible for everything. it is easier now that the kids are older. when he is gone i try and get a bit more housework done so when he is home we can spend time together. i have to let a lot of things to to maintain my sanity.
Midwifery student , Mama to my 4 amazing kids.
-Dinner doesn't need to be fancy, grilled cheese and veggies with dip are just as good as roast beef, mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli. (Ok not really, but it's a perfectly acceptable substitute.)
-Have a scheduled pick up time, every day. Everyone helps clean up, the house gets cleaned and you're not trying to do it all alone.
-Plan time outside of the house, even if it's just a car ride. Loading everyone up and driving to McDonalds for ice cream has saved many a bad day!
-Get a sitter and use her. Even if it's just so you can go sit in the library for an hour. You can't, just can't, spend 24/7 with your kids every day.
-Do things with other people. Make the effort to meet with friends, ti makes life so much easier.
Meals are simple as can be, dishes are put on at night and unloaded in the morning (I do this every day while my husband is away even if not full), laundry is washed at at night and then put in the dryer during the day, usually I fold and put away because it is just a small load and goes fast. Simple cleaning is done but nothing to much like washing floors or sweeping unless it is a horrible mess.
I stick with a schedule, dinner is early (often I cook it around 4pm or earlier), then we just chill for a while and do an early bedtime. I lay out school clothes and PJs for the next day before I go to bed.
Usually at the beginning of the week, I make a weeks worth of lunches and snacks for school so I don't have to worry about it every morning. Weekends are harder for me because we don't have the schedule of the school day but I try to plan something. I am 8 months pregnant now though so I am starting to have a hard time moving around so I just do the best I can.
Give yourself some slack...rest when your kids rest. read a book while they are playing quiet, make sure to take time for yourself.
He was recently gone for 4 days right after I went back to work from being on maternity leave. So taking care of a 4yo and a 2 month old - getting them ready, dressed, fed and out the door in the morning and taking care of things in the evening was a challenge, but we definitely go through it. DH is more of the cook than I am - so I made sure what I made was simple and quick - even if I had to premake it the night before and it was something that could be warmed up. I made sure that the boys' clothes were laid out the night before so we weren't scrounging around for clothes in the morning as well as what I was going to be wear was done the same way. It made for easier mornings.
Luckily, DS#1 got up before DS#2 and I could get him fed and ready to go before DS#2 woke up. I made sure to get up extra early to get myself ready before ANYONE woke up.
He's going on a trip in two weeks to Scotland for 6 days. That will be a bit of test, but I'm sure we'll be fine. I have in-laws that live 6 miles away if something were to happen and I couldn't pick up the kids on time or if I needed a bit of a break, but I work all day, so I look forward to what little time I have in the evenings with my boys - chaotic or not.
My mom lives an hour away so I never really try to put her out.Friends are an hour away too.If I am sick I still do what needs to be done,but I WOULD keep the kids home from school for a day or 2 if I could not drive them safely to school.I have never done that for illness,but did keep them home once when the roads were really bad.
I got used to dh not being home,but would certainly feel better if he was.I don't really like being home alone...day or night...but deal with it.
You will find a way to make it work.It won't be forever!
But what makes it easy to survive is keeping busy. I don't stop our lives when dh is gone. We maintain a strict routine, more so for my kids sakes as they are young. We do as many activities, get out of the house as often as possible. We were at the pool daily during the summer. Meals are simplified, i didn't do tons of cooking. Lived on lots of salads, chili and pizza's. The house was cleaned completely once a week and the dog was taken in for his grooming and ear cleaning. This way i wasn't over burdening myself.
And i will say. With dh gone, the routine is so much easier. With him home, he tends to throw it off by at least 30 mins to an hour. And i learned to look at the bright side. Food lasted longer, less mess, less laundry, the house stayed cleaner longer, less tantrums from my kids.
Also if you're worried about emergencies,I would put together a list of all the numbers you might need.Like a plumber or someone to remove the 20 feet of tree that came down onto your porch while your husband was gone.Ok that's probably just me that needed that.
Another tip I have is making some sort of count down for the kids.Like a paper chain that you take apart each day.Or a bowl full of beads(one for each day he is gone).Each day the kids put one bead on a string and then they have a present for Daddy when he gets home.Or my daughter's favorite...A bowl with a chocolate kiss in it for each day he's gone.
There really is something sweet about the time that he is gone.I think my daughter and I have a stronger bound because of it.
Things that make it easier...when I was expecting #2 and completely exhausted, we found an in-home day care for the oldest. She only goes twice a week for 4 hours, but it really helps - and she loves it! We have no family nearby, and it's great to have the help. Our day care person is great, and she'd help out at odd hours if I really had a problem. Also, I totally let the housework go for the most part until the day before he returns. Having led the traveling life myself, I know how awesome it is to come home to a clean house - so I save all my tidying energy for the last day. Typically, I try to make some sort of easily re-heatable casserole type dinner the day before he is to leave so that we have some simple leftovers for a day or two, and I try to plan a crock pot meal for at least one day while he is gone. If he is to be gone for more than a couple of days, I attempt to have most of the laundry conquered beforehand. While he is gone, making a point to get out of the house everyday - no matter how mundane the trip - helps my sanity and breaks up the day.
There are a few things hubby is really great about, too, before leaving town: he always fills my car up with gas, and makes sure we do a grocery store run the day before. And he is amazing in that no matter how jet-lagged and tired he is, he always jumps right in with the girls when he gets home and gives me a break and reconnects with the kids. We also hired a maid service twice a month and wow - what a difference. We have two kids under two and are remodeling the whole house as well, and they definitely take the edge off.
We also try to make one day a week purely a family fun day. No cleaning, no projects, no errands...a day just for fun, no matter what else is going on.
All in all, it's been fine for us - but it is also the norm for us. Perhaps it would have been a more difficult adjustment otherwise. The hardest times have been when I was pregnant and in the newborn phase, but we survived it happily. I have found myself making a few parenting compromises...there is a little more TV than I like, but I like to think I make up for it in having a lot of quality time alone with them, too, and the oldest already knows all about planes and can generally show you where papa is on the map. I think I am a better parent for it, really.
my biggest fears are not so much as how to manage the kids - that part comes easily. (4 kids ages 7, 7, 3, and 2). the hardest thing for me is that i get really jealous. i'm angry that i have to do everything and i get jealous that he's expensing nice meals off menus across eurpoe, eating at outdoor cafes, sitting at the lagoon with a gelato, doesn't have to cook or clean or deal with the 'chaos or noise', and yet, comes back 'tired' and needs to sleep (er - watch tv!).
so that's my problem.
in terms of dealing with the house and kids, the funny thing is, knowing 'it's all me' makes it even easier. there's no one that you're expecting to clean the sink, or wash the table, so it's actually easier. and meal time can be when you and the kids are hungry (like at 4pm instead of 6:30), and bed time can include even more snuggle time since you can go up as early as you want.
so what i try and do is stay motivated to do fun things even though he's not around. took the kids to cape cod during april vacation, and if he could come, great. if not, we're still going. (he didn't come). if we want to go to the city to do something fun, we will. if we want to stay up late, we will. i just can't sit around and wait for him to take time off or make up for lost time with travels, because it won't happen .granted, the economy makes it difficult for anyone to take too much time away from work, so i understand that side of things too.
just keep reminding yourself that no matter how you do, or how you're feeling, or what you do or don't do, it's all ok. you're entitled to feel the way feel, and to manage in a way that works for you.
as Aka mommy said, less mess, less laundry, less tantrums... somehow it all works out.
have a sitter/housekeeper. Life/sanity saver especially when pregnant.
stay out later at the playground when weather permits. as long as dinner is either ready or is going to be something simple, we'll get home at 6pm, have dinner and then it's almost bedtime.
bake lots or plan a special activity like the zoo.
have a mom's night out or playdates so you get some adult interaction (I'm an extravert so this is really important)
stick to bedtime rigidly. I need that me-time in the evening.
give DH ideas of a small gift he might be able to get DS.
skype with Daddy when possible.
watch all the chick shows in bed early like Grey's Anatomy that DH hates!
We have learned one thing, the hard way. Don't make promises you can't keep.
Once DH called DS before bedtime as he was boarding a plane. He said, 'when you wake up I'll be home' as his flight was due to land at 4am.
When I woke up, I saw text messages on my phone from DH. Basically some idiot had made a hole in the side of the plane with the staircase, everyone had to disembark and wait 12 hrs for another flight.
DS was heartbroken and confused. We felt AWFUL!
DH absolutely hates being apart from DS (and me, but mainly DS!!) but needs must and we're fortunate in this economy that he has a good job.
I'm working on remembering the positives!
Living in Russia
Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Declutter so you don't have much to clean, or much laundry to do. Walk around your house and find ways to make all of your chores effecient as possible. Prep freezer meals in advance, or use your crockpot so you aren't a slave to you kitchen.
Fairly solid routines, and busy days help a lot. Also letting go of the guilt of not living my ideal has helped me lots. I get it most days, but there are times where I don't for days on end. There's grace in child-rearing.
I allow plenty of time for gettings things done because I know that it takes me longer alone. So, like others, we eat around 5, and then move straight to the bedtime routine. Lights out by 8, at the very, very latest. When dh is home, bedtime can run to 10 or later.
Everyone is right...the kids fall into a nice little routine, and then when dh comes back, everything is MUCH harder. I miss him, but I sometimes I wish he and I could coordinate better.
"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."
Another big tip is that if you handle the budget make sure at the end of each month that you set aside a little bit of time to sit down with your husband at the end of the weekend before he leaves town and go over the next monthly budget with him. It takes about an hour for us, we discuss all upcoming expenses that are unusual (meals out, birthday presents, unexpected medical, etc.) and figure out if we have any "play" money after we've paid everything and put money into savings. This has created a much more peaceful marriage for us. We are on the same page and we are both aware of what the next financial month looks like before we get to it. We argue far less about money now. It just isn't possible to try and talk about it when he is away and he is stressed.
For me, sometimes I schedule a sitter for the afternoon rush - 330-530 and I will go out to Starbucks, or work on a puzzle at the library, or get some work done (I teach nights, so my work is wherever I need it to be). I don't clean up while DH is gone - dishes & kitchen yes, but toys & beds, no. We have special times - mocktail hour with appetizers (fun!), game night, "building night" - all of our building sets from big legos to little legos, lincoln logs, blocks, K'nex, etc. spread out all over the great room, movie night (jammies, blankets, and popcorn). We'll go to the park or library, take the dog for a walk (their new favorite), or have breakfast for dinner (chocolate chip pancakes!). I make frozen pizza or leftovers or even tuna helper type things. And I cram the dishwasher with everything. We also will do more playdates then too especially one-on-one (i.e. one kid goes, the other stays with me)
1. Give everything a title - i.e. movie night, mocktail hour, etc. They get thrilled by the expectation.
2 If you can do video chat with DH, even late in bed, do it. Sometimes we record a quick video goodnight and email it to him if we can't connect. We do a lot of phone calls too.
3. Something special for yourself at night - call an old girlfriend, take a hot bath with a favorite "toy" and some romantic candles, watch a chick flick, go to bed with a favorite book, etc.
Generally days 1-2 go well. Day three I start yelling a little and feeling guilty. I break out the wine. Day four gets ugly - kids fighting, toys in timeout, nap is out the window. Day five we muddle through at best.
Try to make it different, to make it fun. And lower your expectations significantly! It gives me great respect for single & divorced moms everywhere!
I find that the worst part of DH's trips is the few days before the trip. I stress about the same things you are, but once he's gone, we fall into a routine and do quite well. It's never as difficult as you imagine it will be.
I've found that with increasing kids and dp's worsening schedule that my standards change. Cereal and fruit is now a fine dinner. A shampoo every 3 or 4 days is fine for everyone. 45 minutes of tv for the 2 years old while I eat some ice cream and read to re-group. But somethings don't get lost- homework must get done, dinner must be eaten together (even if it is cereal!), etc.
Also hard is when dp is home and expects things to run more smoothly "because there are two parents home." But one parent has been away and doesn't have a clue how the house runs!!
Me. With 1 spouse, 4 kids, 16 chickens, 74 matchbox cars, 968,562+ legos, a dishwasher waiting to be emptied, a washing machine waiting to be filled and a lost cup of tea in the house.
I make sure to enjoy my life while he is away. For me, that means really laughing and playing and going on fu adventures with my kids. I just try to keep things simple (echo, echo...I think there is a theme emerging here) and really feel all the love that is in this house.
I try to remember that they are missing their dad so they need extra love. givig it helps me too.
The hardest days for me are the two or three before he goes and the two or three when he returns. After the returns I always want everything to be perfect ad great, but the reality is everyone--the kids, me, dh--all need a little transition time to get our groove back.
Hope that helps a little.
Also, I have a little help sometimes but still I never sleep more than 5-6 hours a night. I need that nighttime time to myself and the kids are early risers. It's not perfect, but it is still pretty good.