Do you travel for work? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 11-08-2006, 01:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm looking for thoughts on dads who travel for work. Both from the side as a mom (me) left with the kids alone for days on end, week after week and doing the bedtime routine (the whole routine) by myself with 2 kids; and from the side as a dad (him) coming home to kids who are a little de-attached due to the separation. How do you re-connect with your kids? How do you handle the detachment? How do you stay connected with your wife?

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#2 of 8 Old 11-13-2006, 12:21 AM
 
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I have been traveling for business for 20 years. I had two children at the start of that who were 1 and 3 when I started. I now have a 6 month old (that is L'lyn).

Communication is key. Let the family know where and when Dad is going. Globes or maps help. Emphasized that Dad will be back and when. Let children know that plans change just in case of delays. Telephone everyday to say hi and hear about their day. One associate helps his kids with homework in the evenings via telephone and computer.

Mom should try not to burden Dad with too much of what went wrong and what he has to do when he gets home. Traveling is tiring and the extra guilt and burden knowing there is a long list of stuff to do when you get home creates bad feelings.

When Dad gets home a small gift for each child is nice proportionally to the length of the trip. If shopping is hard to do on the trip buy the item before Dad leaves and hide it in the trunk of the car or some similar place. I once bought my oldest daughter a Barbie at the local Toys R Us on the way home as I could not get to a store on the road.

Once home the Dad needs some time to unwind but he should do that with the family. Plan a family evening together. Careful with going out for dinner. Many travelers are sick of eating in restaurants but not all. I recommend a pizza and games night in. Communicate (plan) with your partner on that and other activities - a positive thing to talk on the phone about. Once the children are in bed Mom and Dad can have some time to reconnect too.

At the end of a trip Mom and Dad will both be tired. Accept that (don't compete who is the most tired) and sort out who gets to sleep or nap when so you can recharge. Again communicate.

Dad needs to realize that with Mom running the house as almost a single parent he has to fit into your routine. If he thinks there is a change to be made he must talk to Mom about it first.

Some Dads do major projects when they get home or items that only need to be done weekly like yard work so as not to mess up Mom's routine.

One thing I did do when I got home was I took over reading to the children their bed time story. We all liked it. The kids like the change, I liked to do that and Mom got a break at the end of the day. Depending on long distance charges some Dad's continue to do that from the road.

I hope that helps.
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#3 of 8 Old 11-20-2006, 01:13 PM
 
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In 2005, I traveled almost every week for six months.

It was hard for all of us.

Reconnection involved the night of return being a "family night" of snuggling on the bed and recounting all our adventures to each other.

Sometimes on the rough nights, I'd get a phone call in my hotel room where a fractionated child needed reassurance that Dad was still there for them.

Some nights I'd get a call after all the kiddos were in bed to listen to the days activities, to help my beautiful wife let go of the stress and sleep.

I'm glad I'm not traveling with such intensity anymore.
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#4 of 8 Old 11-20-2006, 01:21 PM
 
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I'm curious if you are only seeking input from dads who travel as opposed to working moms who travel and their spouse stays at home with the kids? If so, why? You might get some useful feedback by making a similar post in the Working Moms forum to get the WOHM/ SAHD equivalent of the same issue.
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#5 of 8 Old 11-29-2006, 12:53 AM
 
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I traveled on the road for almost 6 years but didn't have any children at the time. I decided to move home becuase I couldn't stand to think of being away for so long. Most of the time i could come home 3 or 4 times a year. I practically lived on the road. I'd have to agree with the 2nd and 3rd post here.
I can relate to needing time to unwind and at home. I think it's just as hard for the dads as it is for the moms and kids. On the road is where the money is at, at least around here it is.
I don't know what kind of work he's in, but is it possible you might be able to visit him with the kids one weekend or something? Would probably make the dad real happy, and get the kids out to somewhere new. Just a thought.
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#6 of 8 Old 12-16-2006, 02:33 PM
 
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I wish I could get my partner to post here, but that will never happen. So you'll get my point of view. Dp is a pilot who currently travels 6 out of every 8 days. (For example, today is day 6 and we thought she would be home at 6 pm and we would celebrte her b-day. She just called and said she'll be home by midnight. Save the cake for tomorrow.)

My 6 her old misses her like crazy for the first day, but only if he actually sees her leave. If she leaves at 3 am, then it is no issue. Then he is fine for the rest of the week. My 3 year old dd has become very angry with her of late. (I don't love mama and she can't come home sort of anger) and I have to do everything for her even while dp is home. Dd will even chose to miss activities she likes just to stay with me. (Ie, skipping going swimming with the family with dp supervising and instead doing grocery shopping with me.)

Dp is starting to feel like she needs to bribe dd to get some attention. I'm pg with twins and pretty tired, so the other day dp tried to entice the awake 3 year old from our bed by offering hot chocolate with marshmallows. I don't think she should do that.

It is hard on her when she comes back from a longer trip (say 9 weeks away) and I expect her to be able to pick up where we left off from, but really routines do change and I don't notice cause they happen so slowly over time. I don't even notice the baby growing, I'm so busy just making it throught the day. But she sees all the changes once she is back home. (Oh, look how she can get the toy herself now.)

She has had a schedule like this (or worse) for their whole lives so for them it is the norm.

I do have a question for other families though. How do you handle the "weekends" when both parents are home if it is really a weekday. For example Dp will be home tomorrow and the next, Sunday and Monday. Sunday we will do family stuff but Monday? It is a wasted day and the kids barely see her. Both have school in the morning, ds has hockey right after followed by a playdate away. He'll be home for dinner, quick homework and bed. Dd is home from lunch on, but tries to keep her distance. Do you do anything to distinguish those days from others?

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.

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#7 of 8 Old 12-19-2006, 07:58 PM
 
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My Dh travels a lot. It may be a little different from other people here because his trips, while still annoying to him, are not terribly stressful (perhaps he would disagree). They involve meetings and conferences during the day and going out to dinner at night, with generally a good number of free hours during the day. I don't know, but I don't think of this as really the same kind of stress as being home alone with an inconsolable 3yr old ("I don't want you I want daddy. I wish I had no mommy and two daddies") who just-wants-her-dad, especially while pregnant.
So when my DH comes home, he basically takes over.
That first night we usually go through the bedtime routine together. We eat together, play together, have bathtime, even put her to bed together. Usually by the time morning rolls around she has warmed up to him (sometimes even before morning she sometimes sneaks into his side of the bed just to make sure he's still there). The next day (he usually gets back on a Friday) they spend the whole day together, usually out of the house, which lets me get my head back together, and by the end of the weekedn we are back to normal.
It is hard for all involved and I know my DH misses our DD a lot on these trips (but then again I know he chooses to go to a lot of them to advance his career even when others could be going without him -- and that's something that is important to him and I have accepted it). It is hard for dd, but she has gotten used to it and we talk about him a lot when he's not here ("I miss daddy, don't you?" "Let's call daddy" "What do you think daddy is doing right now?" "We'll have to tell daddy about this when he comes back" etc.) but I think we have gotten used to it.
But I wonder how it is all going to work once the twins are born. I'm sure I will become a much less tolerant mama.
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#8 of 8 Old 12-20-2006, 11:59 PM
 
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I HATE having to travel away from DD and my SO! Fortunately, it doesn't happen too often. Right now, however, I am sitting in CA while the fam is at home in ID. On the up-side, technology gives a little hand. I am currently watching my DD play on the couch at home via a webcam. Being able to see each other and talk to each other seems to help out...at least, from my perspective. When I get home, I'll do my best to take the lead with our DD and give my SO as much of a break as I can.
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