Those dreaded words, “Honey, I will be out of town next week for business.”
Business trips have a way of interrupting a good routine, mom flies solo in the parenting department, kids tend to be out of sorts while dad in sleeping in strange beds far away from his domain. Have you ever noticed that once the “master” has left the premises major appliances malfunction, car idiot lights illuminate, wireless networks stop networking and the “simple” remote control no longer controls? At least that’s how it usually rolls in our home.
Let’s face it; business travel is hard on everyone.
Earlier in our marriage, I resented Jon’s travel. Over the years, however, with better communication, honesty and intentionality, my husband and I have learned how to stay connected making our time apart more bearable and fruitful. While I don’t relish his being away I have cultivated a few habits to help us all navigate his travel interruptions.
- Spend time in the Word daily. More than ever, while Jon is away I need God’s perspective on life.
- Remember God is the only one who can meet your needs. “And it is He who will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory, because of what Christ Jesus has done for us” Philippians 4:19
- Begin and end your day with prayer. Pray for much-needed energy plus love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 Pray for your husbands as business travel usually is lonely and exhausting.
- Cultivate a heart of gratitude. Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. Proverbs 4:23 (NCV) Thus, be grateful giving thanks for your husband, his job and all that it provides.
- Find a friend to hold you accountable for your attitude and pray with and for you. Knowing I have someone who is praying for me and cares has been a blessing.
- Get extra rest. I sometimes go to bed when my youngest daughter does.
- Work on your favorite projects or personal interest. (Scrapbooks, painting, blogging, reading, gardening, etc.)
- Start or join a moms group to encourage others. The more you give, the more you receive.
- Build a support system of friends who are willing to help you out (babysitting co-op, play groups, etc.)
- Phone a friend. I find a meaningful conversation both stimulating and helpful to carry on solo.
- Keep things simple. Simple in regards cooking and obligations.
- Keep your sanity (exercise, hiring a sitter, social interaction, daily quite time).
- Ban yourself from nagging and complaining about his travel as well as comparing his job to others. Our husbands need to feel appreciated.
- Plan a night out with friends or something special several days after his return thereby giving you something to anticipate.
Growing Together When Apart
- Create a travel calendar especially when dad must go for an extended time. Include outings, obligations, and a welcome home celebration.
- Plan fun outings while dad is away. Do a local search for “monthly family outings/events” in your area. Choose a few to do (a library reading for kids, free museum days, etc.). Planning gives kids something to look forward to and keeps all occupied.
- Have dad map out where he will be traveling to so the family can follow his travels, AKA a geography lesson.
- Have the kiddos hide notes or pictures in his suitcase.
- Tuck a love note in his briefcase.
- Encourage dad to leave behind a special token with kids. Jon has a 1922 silver dollar that he gives to the girls to take care of when he is gone.
- Plan special events the kids can look forward to when dad travels. When my husband is away, my girls get to sleep with me. Consequently, this is something that they have to look forward to. We eat breakfast for dinner.
- Establish a daily time for dad to connect with the kids. Jon usually will call in the morning and before Cayley goes to bed. Today with the wonders of technology you can FaceTime, Skype, text, send silly movies and pictures to each other. Jon and Cayley have various ongoing games they play together (Scrabble, Draw Something, and others).
Growing Closer When Together
- Welcome your husband home. Warmly greet him with a hug and kiss and teach your kids to do the same.
- Create a cheerful atmosphere when he returns home. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:11-12
- Ask about his trip and meetings. Jon likes when I show interest in what he does. The girls always ask him to share funny occurrences.
- Plan a date night soon after he returns.
- Have a “staff meeting.” This is a tool that encompasses a weekly meeting and one soon after Jon returns to be sure we are on the same page in regards parenting goals and expectations, catching him up by sharing upcoming events, and other obligations.
- Don’t forget that men spell love and appreciation S.E.X.
Now that we are re-experiencing parenting with our youngest daughter, it has become apparent that some things never change. Cayley cries like her sisters did ten years ago each time Jon heads out on a trip exclaiming, “Please don’t go, and “Do you really have to go daddy?” Secretly, Jon longs to hear these words as it reaffirms the special bond he has with our youngest and his desire to get back home as quickly as possible. My heart still aches with each departure but thankfully we’ve learned to stay better connected, joyful, and supportive of each other.
How do you stay connected while apart? What do you find the hardest to balance when your husband has to be away? Which of the above suggestions might help your family stay better connected when future travel occurs?