Marriage and family are a team effort or at least that’s how we try to do things, so how do you cope when part of that team is away and you don’t have your usual subs bench to lean on.
Before coming to the States, Sam hadn’t done much working away from home and on the rare occasions he did we had family and friends around to help if needed. Since coming over, he’s had a few short trips to Detroit and a much longer two week one to Germany and I have been left home alone holding the fort, so I thought it would be useful to write down a few of the strategies I’ve used to make it a bit easier and maybe they’ll help you too.
- Have a plan – this could just be for my crazy need to know what’s happening when mind, but I find it helps to have a plan written down. I put down the dates Sam is away and what activities/ school things we have going on in that period and if the trip is over a weekend, what we’re going to do to fill those days.
- Pick a project – the day to day stuff seems to be pretty much the same apart from having to do all of it yourself. Where it gets harder, is in the evenings after the kids are in bed and you’re sat there wondering what you’re supposed to do now. You can’t watch any of your usual Netflix shows as apparently skipping ahead of your other half on Netflix is on a par with cheating, I read it in article somewhere, somewhen so it must be true! So, what I like to do is pick a project, size dependent on the length of the trip, it can be as simple as sorting out some of your drawers or as complicated as starting a website. The bare bones of Brits in the Bay were formed while Sam was on his two week trip to Germany!
- Get some me time in – for this, do whatever it means to you. For me, I like to have a long bath after the kids are in bed instead of a quick shower or watch some of my “girly” shows, yes I am still watching The Vampire Diaries. Maybe for you, it’s a reading a book, painting or something that you enjoy doing but don’t get time to as in the evening you feel like you should be catching up with your other half and doing something together.
- Accept invitations from new friends – lean on your new buddies, you may not have known them as long as your back home family and friends but chances are, they know what you are going through as they’ve been in the same situation. If they invite you and the kids over for dinner one night, go!
- Decline invitations from friends – if you’re like me and you don’t always want to go out and be sociable, having a partner away is the perfect excuse to decline nights out as you don’t have anyone to watch the kids! And then put your comfy clothes on, pour yourself a glass of wine, watch the cheesiest TV show you can find, stay up ridiculously late and relish the peace and quiet.
- Do something fun with the kids – they’re missing Dad too so take them out somewhere fun and enjoy the time together. Even if that’s as simple as going out to grab a burger and chatting over what they’ve been up to at school. Or do something you wouldn’t normally do with Dad, like watch way too many Barbie movies. Sorry, I have girls, I have no idea what boys do!
- Test out new routines – I like to use the time Sam’s away to test out some new morning and/or evening routines either just for myself or for the kids as well and see how we get on with them. With no one around to giggle at me as I’m doing my nightly meditation, I find I get it done more regularly and then it’s easier to keep it up when he’s back.
- Stay in touch – this doesn’t need to be massive phone calls, especially if there’s time differences involved, just a quick text or WhatsApp to make sure you both know what you’re up to and what’s going on. There’s nothing that makes someone feel more out of the loop than finding out about either a change of plan or a big development from Facebook.
- Try not to do big calls with the kids too often – we would always try and make sure Sam spoke to the girls before bed but then with time differences in Germany it wasn’t always possible. We found it actually worked better for Poppy to have slightly less contact as she would always be a little sad after speaking to Sam, whereas when she spoke to him a little less she coped much better. Not sure it was as great for Sam though, but kids first and all that!
- Plan something nice for when they get back – again this doesn’t have to be anything big or fancy just something fun to look forward to. Try not to store up all your frustrations to rant about the minute they’re back through the door. But also on this topic, do not forget jetlag! Don’t necessarily plan that special something for straight away or you might be met with an ungrateful zombie!!
So those are pretty much my strategies, or at least the ones I attempt anyway! How about you, do you have any great strategies you use or things you avoid like the plague? Let us know in the comments below…