Saturday, 1 September 2012

How I cope when my hubbie is away – Part 1

I get this question quite a lot – How do you cope with two young children while you’re hubbie is away so much? The simple answer is… I just do. I don’t really have a choice! Sometimes we thrive with one less mouth to feed, body to pick up after, free access to the laptop, and eggs on toast being totally acceptable dinner options. And then there are other times I just do what I need to do in order to survive, like when the kids and/or I are sick, I’m sleep deprived, when I’m over it or when I just miss hubbie and want him to come home.

This year my hubbie is going to be away 20 out of 52 weeks. He is not away at regular intervals like a Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) or shift worker. It changes from week to week and month to month. He is sometimes away for 4 weeks, home for 2 and then away again for another 3 weeks. Other times he might be home for a couple of months and then away for just 2 weeks. When he is home he works Monday to Friday but sometimes has to leave for work before 7am and may not get home until 7pm. Those days are just as hard as when he is away as he misses seeing the boys and he is often so tired that he’s not that much help around the house, even when I don’t “clock off” until dinner is made and at least the toys are packed away. Other times when he is home he might work in the afternoon/evening, leaving home late morning and getting home close to midnight. I don’t actually mind this schedule as we get to spend the morning together as a family and I get the TV remote all to myself in the evening!!!

So how do I cope? First of all, there are two things you need to know about our family. First of all, my hubbie and I have spent a lot of time apart even from the very start of our relationship. When we first got together we lived over 4000km away from each other! It is what we have always done and I think we’re pretty good at it. Secondly, I am lucky enough to have two easy going, healthy little boys and I think they are probably the main reason I cope so well.

But there are also things I do to try to make our lives a little easier while hubbie is away.

  • We keep in touch as often as his work allows. Whenever possible we talk on the phone throughout the day and he makes a special effort to try to talk to the boys before they go to bed each night. While previously it has been more about me staying connected with hubbie in this way, we have found that our eldest son, who is almost 2 ½, is feeling the impact of his Daddy’s absence for the first time. So getting to talk to Daddy on the phone and tell him all about his day is helping to bring a smile to his little face. When internet access is available we also Skype, which is even better.
  • I like to have the boys on a routine and try to be fairly organised. At 10 months, my youngest son is still having a morning sleep from 9.30-11.00am and both boys go down for an afternoon sleep from 1.30-3.30pm-ish. Both boys are put to bed at around 7.00pm. Home based tasks like chores and meal preparation can be done either when they are playing or asleep. I find that organising and de-cluttering is best done when they are having their afternoon sleep as I work best on these sorts of tasks without distractions. If I’m tired or unwell I may also use their afternoon sleep time to give myself a break and try to have a nap, read a book, catch up on a taped TV show or do some blogging. Sometimes I also treat myself with these activities as a reward for getting chores done that I’ve been avoiding like cleaning the floors.
  • I aim to get out and about most days and this is done in between their usual sleep times wherever possible. They can skip a sleep here or there for appointments or special events like birthday parties but I try to keep these to a minimum as I usually find myself paying for it later with tired, grumpy children. On the flip side, I try not to over commit myself with too many outings so that I still have time to get the usual chores and meals done at home. I try to make an outing out of every day jobs such as doing the grocery shopping or running errands by packing some snacks for the kids and either letting my eldest son play on the equipment at the local shopping centre or pay a visit to the park before heading home. If we don’t get out before their afternoon sleep, we can always go for a walk in the pram when they wake up.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I share more ways that I cope when my hubbie is away. I’d love to hear how other people cope whether it be as a single parent or with a partner who works long hours or away from home.

No comments:

Post a Comment