How To Survive When Your Spouse Travels

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“Dad,” she beamed, “I’m so glad you’re home. I really miss you when you’re gone. But I’m also glad when you come home because Mommy makes dinner again.”

My husband and I giggled about this later as we discussed how different our home is when he travels for work.

My husband travels somewhat frequently and usually without much notice. I used to stress over that reality. How would I keep all of these little people alive, meet work deadlines and stay sane? (My hat is off to military spouses and single parents for whom this is a constant reality.)

I needed a strategy. And since laziness has worked for me in the past, it was a natural choice. Just kidding. Mostly.

I did learn that I needed to create some buffer for myself – mentally, emotionally, and physically – to fill the gaps left by my husband’s absence. If I intentionally simplified some of my daily tasks, perhaps I could create space for the extra parenting load.

Strategy Number One

Back to the “Mommy doesn’t make us dinner” comment. What mom doesn’t appreciate a bit of a break from meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking? When my husband is out of town, our meals are rather untraditional. “Make your own dinner” night is followed by “Clean out the pantry” night. Its slim pickings by the third and fourth evening. But a meal of popcorn and a banana is the kindergartener’s dream (but not the tweener’s dream, I’m learning).

I have been surprised to observe what an emotional balance my husband brings to our home. Even on days when he’s working late and not around much, his mere physical presence and brief conversation seem to be an emotionally stabilizing force for our three daughters. This is truly a beautiful thing. Our girls need their Daddy. They want to share little bits of their day and see his approving smile. When he’s away for several days in a row, the reverse is true. Without the testosterone infusion, the emotional temperature can become a bit temperamental.

Time for Strategy Number Two

Planning a few out-of-the-ordinary activities has proven a very helpful distraction. Whether inviting other kids over to help us clean out our pantry, visiting the library just before bedtime (gasp!), or trolling the dollar store for kids to spend their allowance, getting out of the house for a bit of fun has been vital to our survival.

I’ve thought often about the realities of business travel in previous generations. How did moms survive without Skype or text? Seeing Daddy’s face (and a video tour of his hotel room) on Skype – even if just for a few minutes of every day – is good for all of us. And, our sweet kindergartener mostly texts poop emoji’s to my husband during business meetings. I think it’s her way of saying “I love you.”

As I look at the calendar, it’s time again to clean out the pantry.

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Julie is a Midwest girl who moved to Colorado Springs as a newlywed in search of adventure. Over 16 years later, Julie and her husband Noah can’t imagine living anywhere else! Three creative and energetic daughters – Avary (10), Evelyn (8), and Piper (6) – know how to bring the fun…and the drama! An infant son – Everett – brings joy and a growing sense of boyhood charm. As a surprised-to-be-homeschooling mom, Julie’s days are filled with opportunities to nurture little souls, making lots of mistakes, learning how to ask for forgiveness, and finding opportunities to bless others. As a part-time grant writer for a local non-profit, Julie loves contributing to community efforts focused on serving our Colorado Springs neighbors in need. When blessed with a bit of free time, you can find Julie exploring one of our city’s beautiful hiking trails, swinging kettlebells, making a list for tomorrow (let’s be honest!), engaged in a heart-to-heart with a girlfriend, or enjoying conversation with her very kind husband.