How to Enjoy Motherhood While Your Husband is Out of Town is a real challenge, but it can be done.
Cody travels for work and I always, without fail, hate being left behind.
During his trips he is dining out every night, staying in a hotel and essentially doing whatever he wants. At the height of his traveling for work, I get serious anxiety and resentment builds up.
While he is gone I am doing life all by myself. My kids are still little and when you are the only one to take care of all the needs constantly, life starts to feel chaotic and overwhelming.
I remember sharing with my therapist how my husband’s traveling was aggravating my anxiety, so she gave me some tools to help me get through this time alone. After using these ideas, I have less anxiety and even enjoy some of my time while he is away.
Here are my tips adapted from my conversations with my therapist. These are ways for parents to thrive while the spouse is out of town.
- What if? I tend to find all the worst case scenarios and play them over in my mind when I picture myself parenting by myself. My therapist suggested I answer all my what ifs. What if your kids eat out more than usual? They will be full and might actually enjoy getting out of the house. What if your kids watch more TV than usual? They will not be permanently damaged. What if you got a babysitter? The kids will be glad to get a break from you. 😉 Basically, what if all the things I feared were actually not a big deal and I could fix them pretty easily. My husband being out of town is not a life or death situation, thankfully.
- Have a plan. Before Cody leaves I plan out every day: activities, meals, breaks, babysitting, playdates, and routines/scheduling. See your planning as a pre-emptive strike against the chaos. Life will feel much worse when you don’t know what to feed your kids and they are all crying at your feet because they are hungry. Have a plan not only for the care of your children, but also for yourself. Continue to exercise, eat well, get plenty of sleep; this is even more important when everything depends on you.
- Be patient with yourself. It is not easy to be in charge of everything on your own. Some blessed women do it on their own all the time, but many of you, like me, are not used to playing solo. Since you are not functioning on normal circumstances, expect to have your life to be a bit different during that time. As long as you children are safe and well cared for, eating out or letting the kids watch an extra Disney movie so you can have a break is not going to ruin anyone’s life.
- Find the silver lining. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like sleeping in my bed without my husband or generally not having an adult to talk to in the evenings, but there are some moments after the kids are all in bed that are actually quite lovely. Focus on the things you can do versus what you cannot do because your husband is out of town. I tend to write, start a DIY project, read a good book or call family members I want to connect with. Fill the time you would normally spend with your spouse doing projects that will bring you joy.
- Connect with your husband daily. This may seem very intuitive for some of you, but it is super important to keep in touch about each others’ day even though you are not seeing each other in person. We are so lucky to live in a time where we can text, facetime/skype and call each other everyday with little inconvenience. Also, set expectations of each other, especially for the one traveling. We are open with each other about avoiding situations that would put us in uncomfortable and difficult situations. You will both rest more easy if you know the other person knows your expectations while apart.
- Connect with adults. I try to plan time to see another adult. It is usually a mom friend who understands how much I need to talk and let my kids play.
- Look for ways to help others. When I face challenges I tend to see only my own troubles. I am making efforts to find ways to serve others even when I might feel like I am in need. I am not saying that you should always ignore your own needs, but sometimes serving others gives us a better, more enlightened perspective of our own struggles. This could be as easy as baking cookies with your kids and taking them to neighbors.
I hope these few ideas will help you enjoy motherhood during a time that can be extra stressful. I know that these things help because I have had many parenting fails while my husband is out of town for work.