Coping with a Spouse that Travels

What I want to talk about today is having a significant other who traveling a lot. Whether it’s your husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend.

So, when we first got pregnant, my husband was at a different job where he RARELY traveled. At the time we were in the process of him applying to remote positions, knowing whatever he got would most likely involve travel. We made sure to only apply to the ones that had low travel percentages (15-20 percent). He ended up being hired on by the company he works for now about 1 month before my due date. With his notice given at his previous job, basically his first day ended up being the day that Parker was born (funny story). They told him when he was hired that they would need him for a week in Texas at their main office for on-boarding and training…not knowing this would all come together on the week I ended up having to be induced. What ended up happening is she was born on a Tuesday and he left that Sunday for about four days. My mom, thank goodness, was in town and was a god send! I had some complications with post-delivery and I’m honestly not sure what I would’ve done without her.

(I can’t stand the sweetness!!)

Ever since then his travel has progressively gotten heavier and heavier. It started off with him being gone once a month for 1-2 nights or 2-3 days. As the time has gone on, we are now at about every other week to every 2 weeks for almost an entire week at a time. And in-between those trips, he has had some side trips added in for a day or two down to their Georgia office (client meetings and some training). This has become frustrating for mom…and I’m sure for dad too. It definitely wasn’t what we had signed on for. Luckily his new boss noticed how much travel he had on his schedule when he was trying to book something with my husband and set up a meeting with him talking about lowering his travel rate back down. His boss says he would like to get him down to only two trips per quarter…also stating that if the trip ran longer than a week, he would help pay for us to tag along or for a grandparent to come out. This was an incredibly nice gesture…I hope he truly meant it! There are certain trips I would love to go on and it would be nice to bring someone out to help if I stayed home (as you know, we don’t have any family near us).

In the beginning, it was very daunting when he began to travel with Parker so young. It’s a lot of work to do on your own. I’m sure single parents understand, or people who have significant others in careers like firefighting that involves them being away for days at a time. You do, I think in some ways, begin to feel like a single parent at times. Now this is not to diminish your spouse’s role…my husband does A LOT. He is a great husband and a fantastic dad; he is always there for us and he definitely takes his duties seriously…he is very good at both. However, with him being away so much lately, I have begun to feel at times like a single parent.

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When it first started after Parker was born, I used to cry every time he left and every time he would FaceTime in. I know this probably made him feel horrible, but I just couldn’t help it. Between the hormones and having this new little human to take care of all by myself, it was frightening at times. I was lucky that my mom could come out for a few of his trips, but she couldn’t come out for all of them. Back then, Parker had to be rocked alllllll the way to sleep and she had to be held through all her naps. She also slept in our room and was a fairly light sleeper, so you usually had to go to bed with her and watch something on the iPad with your headphones on or you would risk waking her when you came into the room later and have to rock her to sleep again. When this was our daily routine, it was rough when I was the only one home to do all of this. It truly meant that I didn’t get any breaks AT ALL. I was holding her constantly through the day unless we were doing tummy time. I mean, obviously I would put her in her mamaroo or swing, but those things only lasted so long.

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Now, it is a lot easier. She is completely sleep trained and we have a pretty steady routine in place. She has a regular wake up time (it varies every once in a while) and nap times that are fairly set. So, I get breaks when she naps in her room and after she goes to bed. I’m able to do things for myself…I’m not scrambling to make myself dinner, hoping she won’t start crying in her swing or mamaroo. I can relax and wind down at the end of the night before heading up to bed and no longer have to be concerned about waking her (except when the dogs want to bark at everything…so much danger when dad is not home).

There was a phase this past month where my husband was gone for a week, back for a week, gone again for a week, back and then gone again. And on top of that, he had some quick trips down to Georgia in-between. When he was back…we didn’t get into an argument by any means but I did get a little sassy with him one time. You know, you get into a routine when they are gone (almost like I said…like a single parent) and I have a certain way of doing things when I am the only one home. The times when I do dishes and unload the dishwasher, the times when I do the laundry, when I put stuff away…Parker and I’s routine. I’ve set this routine by learning what works best for Parker and how I can integrate my things into her schedule.

So, my husband took care of Parker one day when he was back because I ended up with this horrible migraine (thank goodness he wasn’t out of town) and he wanted me to rest. So sweet! However, her schedule got pretty thrown off. It’s not that he didn’t take her schedule seriously, but he did get distracted doing some other things while making her bottle or before putting her down…so her naps were late and her bed time was late. Also, side bar, but I use the same spoon for my coffee all morning (scooping the grounds, stirring in sugar to my 2 cups each day) …and I went through 3 spoons that day, I kid you not! While being helpful, he continued to wash every spoon and put them in the dishwasher! I got so sassy, “Please stop washing those spoons! Those are my coffee spoons”. Then, he was cleaning up miscellaneous stuff around the house and I got super defensive. I kept saying I was going to get to that, I do this when she is watching her show and that when she is taking her second nap. Poor guy…just trying to help.

Later when I was starting to feel better, I started to apologize. He kept telling me he didn’t take it personally. I still had to apologize though, I knew I had been snarky about so many things that day. I felt bad, he does so much for us and I knew he was just trying to help. The problem is that I had gotten so used to the way I handle things without him here, I almost had to readjust to him being here. For the longest time I had to adjust to him being gone and now it’s the opposite. I just told him how I had worked really hard to get Parker on this schedule and it is really important to me that she stays on it. It changes her whole day and mood sometimes if it is altered, and if her schedule gets pushed out, she tries to do the same thing the next day…so it can become a bad habit.

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(Don’t mind the mess…this is real life haha)

Yeah so, we’ve really had to adjust back and forth with whether he is here or not. Thankfully, it is all supposed to slow down come summer time. I honestly don’t know though, I feel that every time they tell me NO MORE TRAVEL PLANS…we end up with more trips. Every time I’m told “that’s it” …that’s never IT.

So, it’s been a rough transition for sure. It was hard to get used to him being out of the house…especially with a young baby. Luckily, it is so much better now that we have gotten used to it and sweet Parks is on a good schedule. My biggest advice to all of you is to try and get a routine in place. That has been the best things for us! And make sure to get out of the house, staying cooped up all day for days on end by yourself isn’t healthy for your mental state. Get out, talk to people, take a walk or run an errand. Try to keep your baby as close to on schedule as possible and be sure to take moments to relax.

I just want all of you moms…or dads…out there, if you have a significant other who travels or is gone for days for their job, you are not alone! IT DOES GET BETTER (or at least easier)!! It’s never easy and it never feels good to have them gone…you’ll always miss them and always prefer to have them around with a helping hand. I just keep in mind that my mom was a single mom once I turned 4 years old and she killed it. You know, she knocked it out of the park (she’s basically a rock star), so I can handle it for a few days on and off. Like I said, I have family and friends with firefighter husbands who deal with it all the time. We have really gotten into the groove of things…we miss him and prefer him to be home but we’ve got it figured out now.

If y’all have any questions or concerns about your significant other who travels or has a job that keeps them away for days at a time, please feel free to reach out to me. I am always willing to talk about it; if you need someone to vent to, if you need advice, or even if you have advice for me don’t hesitate to comment!

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