Friday, December 20, 2019

How I Survive a Traveling Husband

Hi there! As you are reading this Devin is on Day 5 of a work trip and I figured it was probably time I write a post about something I frequently get asked about: Surviving a Traveling Husband. 

It's hard, but it's do-able! I can't even imagine how hard it must be to be a military spouse or a single mom all the time. I literally have a countdown app on my phone that tells me how many hours I have left until Devin returns from his trips and I can get a "break" 😂
Devin is the International Sales Manager for a company that sells science lab equipment, so he travels all over the world and he travels frequently. Due to the distances he travels, he is rarely gone for fewer than 4 days and has been known to be gone for 2 full weeks at a time, including weekends. I'm not sure if many of you have husbands who travel, whether for short trips or longer periods of time, but if you do and are wondering what we do in our neck of the woods to make it go as smoothly as possible, I put together a few tips:

** I always tell people the first day of Devin being gone is the hardest while I try to establish the new routine, but once you get past that first day it's all downhill from there!**
1. Try to Look on the Bright Side-- Devin is away from us because he is doing a job he genuinely loves and is able to provide for our family. It is because of this job that I am able to stay home part time with our kiddos and I am beyond grateful for that. Also, because he flies so much and stays in hotel chains whenever possible, we are able to travel more frequently as a family without paying for flights/hotels. He also has "executive platinum" status for American Airlines and we get upgraded to first class for free almost every time we fly. Would I rather my husband be home more often than a free upgrade? Of course. But since that isn't an option, I'll take the free upgrades as a consolation prize 😉 Sometimes his company pays for me to join too! Last fall Devin had to be in Amsterdam for a total of 15 straight days. His company gave him 3 consecutive days off and bought me a plane ticket to join him in Amsterdam for those 3 days, which made the 2+ weeks he was gone MUCH easier to handle!😊
Devin had a work trip to Paris in December 2017, and I was able to join him for the weekend after he was finished working. 
2. Wake Up Earlier-- As miserable as this sounds, I have found waking up at least a half hour earlier to be the best way to make sure I get everything done. If I want to shower, make LG's lunch, throw in a load of laundry, prep something for dinner, etc. I have found that I'm at my most alert/most efficient in the morning. I try to do things at night, but usually I am so dead tired after the kids go to bed that it takes me twice as long to accomplish anything. 
On that same Paris trip, I arrived while Devin was still at work and went to the Louvre by myself. I got to see the Mona Lisa up close because there was hardly anybody there on a rainy weekday in December!
3. Do What You Can After the Kids Go to Bed-- Maybe you are more of a night owl than an early bird, and you'd be better off getting things done at night. I try to do what I can at night to give myself less to do in the morning.

4. Expect the Kids to Help-- When Devin is out of town I ask Lily Grace to help more with chores. Even at 2 years old, she is able to do minor things around the house to help like clean up after herself, put her laundry in the hamper, throw trash in the trash can, etc. Every little thing she is able to do is one less thing I have to do on my own. Liam isn't much help yet, but he'll get there one day. 😉

5. Try to Make it Fun-- Rather than moping around the house being miserable, I try to do the things I wouldn't normally do when Devin is here. For example, he's allergic to shellfish so I try to make as many shrimp/crab/lobster recipes as I can while he is away. If there's a movie I've been wanting to watch but he has no interest, I save it for when he goes out of town. I invite friends or family over for dinner to break up the monotony of the week too (I do NOT make anything fancy, we usually order takeout or make easy spaghetti).

6. Ask for Help! People love to feel needed and love to be able to help someone they love (assuming you don't overdo it, of course). If a friend or family member offers to come over and help with the kids, even if just for an hour or so, I rarely turn them down. In my experience, people want to help but don't know what to do, so I've become better about being direct when asking for something. If my dad offers to help clean up after dinner, I need to say "yes, please walk the trash can out to the street" instead of just "yes" because he might not know what to do otherwise.
 A few years ago Devin had a work trip to China and Japan and some friends and I went to join him. The friends and I explored China and Japan while Devin worked during the day, and then he met up with us at night after work. We had a blast!

Really the biggest thing for me is to try to look at the situation as the glass half full instead of empty. Yes, it is difficult to be in charge of young kids by yourself both day and night for a week or more at a time, but we really have so much to be grateful for and I try to focus on that instead. I am lucky that he is only gone for a week or two and not more long term. I have so much more respect for military spouses now and cannot imagine being on your own for months at a time!

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