10 Ways to Survive (Or Even Enjoy a Little Bit) Your Husband Traveling

by Laura on January 25, 2013

So, Matt gets back from SE Asia and India in two days after traveling for 19 days straight. And every time he travels, which has been quite a bit over our married life, my respect for single- parents and military moms skyrockets.

Skyrockets.

Because, no lie, flying solo with kids can be tough.

There are bedtimes and school lunches to manage. Bills to pay and the trash to remember to take out on Fridays. There are three little mouths telling stories all at once and only one set of ears to listen.

Like I said, props to single-parents and military moms. Props and shout-outs and fist bumps and “You deserve a Starbucks and a really long all-expense paid vacation” all at once.

And while holding the fort alone is mostly definitely draining, here are a few things that I’ve found eases the pain–  just a little . . .

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1. Pick a Netflix show and watch a whole season. For me this trip it was Hart of Dixie, which I loved but Matt would have fallen asleep in. You think I exaggerate. No, really, I’ve watched the entire season the past two weeks.

2. Enjoy not shaving your legs as much, wearing those really comfy pants that are a far-cry from sexy, and becoming a pillow-hog.

3. Two words:  Paper. Plates.

4. Plan stuff for the weekends. Weekends are the hardest time to fly solo in my opinion since all your friends are hanging with their families, so be proactive and plan some events to look forward to. It might be type-A-ish of me, but the week or so before a trip, I start making calls and sending emails to get a few things written on the family calendar so the kids have something specific to be excited about. PURSUE PEOPLE. Don’t expect others to remember your husband is gone and invite you.

5. Make a trip to the library, early on. Catch up on some Nicholas Sparks’ novels like you’re on a beach somewhere, for free. And eat chocolate and drink your favorite girly wine, while you’re at it.

6. Enjoy being a slacker. This includes serving, guilt-free mind-you, peanut butter sandwiches and cereal and frozen pizza for dinners.  It also includes skipping the weekly chores and being okay with a little more mess (or a lot more, the kids really don’t care.)

7. Hit the gym. No, really, hit it. I struggle with depression when Matt travels, and consistent exercise does wonders for me- especially when I can do it outside in sunshine with some good music going.  When he travels, I almost have to look at exercise as necessary medicine for my mental sanity and not just the optional perk it usually is.

8. Invest in a sitter. Before he leaves, I try to schedule at least one girls’ night out. There’s something deeply healthy about getting out in the evening and skipping the bedtime routines– especially when it involves a Twilight movie that your girlfriends will actually appreciate (as opposed to the time you went with your husband and he chuckled embarrassingly the. entire. movie.)

9. Have people over after the kids are in bed, too.  I’ve loved having a few nights where I invite friends over to hang out after children are asleep. It’s like a girl’s night out, only . . . in. And it breaks up the mundaneness of watching that Netflix show all by your lonesome (see number one).

10. Use the time to cultivate your friendship with God. This takes intention, but when my husband is around, my obvious default is to talk to him about everything. When he’s gone, there is more space naturally created to develop a running conversation with Jesus. And plus, when you pray out loud amid the chaos of the latest sibling fight something like, “Oh. dear. Jesus. Please help me parent these kids and let them know they better stop arguing, rightthisinstant.” Well, you’re talking to God and the kids get the message that mama’s about to lose it so maybe it’d be to their advantage to stop hitting each other. You could say it’s a prayer win-win.

*This post is happily dedicated to my friends, Michelle H. and Christine L, heroes on the homefront, for sure. 

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How about you? Married to a globe-trotter yourself? Tips you use to survive?

And having trouble with the ol’ attitude while he sees the world and you’re stuck at home? Read this.

 

  • Tamara

    Great post! What’s incredible is that you touched on the very ‘tips’ – survival strategies – that the Army teaches spouses for training and deployment times! You’ve got it down and I’m so glad to hear it’s working for you.

    Hugs from over here!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      So the Army encouraged you not to shave your legs?!

      Haha.

      Just kidding. That’s funny that the Army would advise some of that, but I can see it– I reckon its not rocket science but just good to be reminded of!
      Love you guys! HOpe you are doing well . . .

      • Tamara

        Ha! The not shaving legs was a given! A special ops guy we know would send his wife this encrypted message to let her know he was on his way ‘back’: Shave your legs!
        Enjoy the sweet anticipation and then the homecoming of your Matt!

        • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

          haha. awesome. :)

  • Guest

    Laura

  • http://www.facebook.com/alana.blase Alana Blase

    great tips..my husband is beginning to travel more and like you said, three kids plus one mama = lots of hard work!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Alana, hang in there! Three on Two is hard, but Three on One is even harder, for sure. Take care of yourself in the process . . . .

  • Jenny

    Laura, I randomly did a Google search for “missionary blogs” recently and stumbled upon yours… just started following your blog and TRULY enjoy the wide range of topics you cover! LOVE your honesty AND appreciate your bravery for being honest with a wide audience. We are missionaries raising support to be church planters in Japan with the added twist of also being a military family. My hubby is a Navy Reservist (former active duty) and was called up to serve in the Middle East for a year, followed by a deployment in Europe for 3 months. 16 months separation within a span of 2 years with two small children to raise on my own, not to mention putting our support raising on hold. (BTW, husband has been back for a year, he still travels a lot, but we’re back on track with support raising.) That said, you’ve got a GREAT list here… I did ALL TEN of those things to stay sane! I would add, and this might be a given but sometimes it’s not, to have one “kindred spirit” friend who is committed to listening, praying, and not criticizing when you have a rotten day (or week… or month). With my kids being young, we scheduled lots of playdates, too. When people offered to help (because sometimes that was just the nice chit-chatty thing to say in the moment), I would say, “If you’re serious about wanting to help, I’d love for you to watch my kids so I can get a break,” and if they were serious, I’d go to a coffee shop and read a book, go to the mall or someplace I knew my kids would totally get bored but that I would enjoy, or if I was feeling particularly responsible, I’d actually get some grocery shopping done. Funny enough, I probably had way more of a social life when my husband was gone, so it was quite an adjustment after he got back… which is probably another topic altogether about reuniting and all the expectations that surround that! Totally took advantage of #2. Hope you have a sweet homecoming with your hubby!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Jenny– sounds like you have major experience here!

      I like that tip about asking practically for help in watching the kids to take a break. And I totally agree that I feel like my social calendar has been really full the last several weeks with him gone! Funny.
      Please keep us posted on your journey to Japan! Exciting stuff.

      PS- Have you seen our other blog- http://www.aLifeOverseas.com ? It’s got about 10 missionaries there writing several times a week about missions. Might be a good resource, too. :)

      • Jenny

        Thank you! Yes, I’ve started following the other blog, too — great resource! I’ve just resurrected my blog and will have to add it when I’m ready :)

  • Neeley Davie

    Loved this…..wish I could come over and hang out, or gone out with u on the girls night, sigh, one day….miss you! -neeley

  • Kendal Privette

    chris travels with wycliffe – two long trips a year (ya know, a MONTH at a time) plus shorter ones for training or conferences. i do almost all of those you listed. and i catch up on school work and sleep!

  • http://twitter.com/JennInGraceland Jennifer Hatcher

    My husband travels regularly for his job. (He’s gone right now.) It is so much easier now that my two older children can help babysit the others and since they are all in school during the day. I love your tips! I also recommend having a stash of chocolate somewhere. Bedtime is easier if I am able to think, “Self, you are soooooo getting a square of Ghirardelli chocolate after these loud boys fall asleep!”

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