My husband travels a lot for his job. This leaves me with having to pick up all the slack of parenting, chores, finances and getting the kids to where they need to be. I know he has no control over his travel, but I am exhausted and need advice on how to cope. Asked by Brittany – Lexington, KY
I know firsthand how hard it is to keep a household and family in tact when your other half is frequently traveling for work. The first thing you should come to terms with is that you can’t and shouldn’t do it alone. Hopefully you live in a community where friends or (if you’re lucky) family can help you with getting your children to their activities or sports. Don’t hesitate to rely on neighbors you know to help you out, whether it’s taking a quick trip to the grocery store alone or even getting 30 minutes of quiet time in your own home. Carving out some time for yourself is another recommendation for keeping your sanity when you are flying solo during the week. Throw the guilt out the window and tell yourself that when you feel recharged, you are a better parent and CEO to your household. Finally, depending on the ages of your children, they can be helping you considerably to ease the burden of all the household tasks that need to be done. Chores or weekly responsibilities, as big or small as they may be, are important not only to establish good family involvement for the children, but also help alleviate some of the stresses that you may feel from week to week. Enlist the help of your spouse. Hopefully he can check in with your children during the times he is traveling to ensure that they are helping you out. Take a deep breath….you can do this. Marjorie – 30 something
It sounds like maybe there are two issues going on here. The first is about your husband traveling and how you feel about that. I know you understand and that you have accepted it, but, you are still allowed to have your feelings about that. You may want to share those feelings with a friend or even with your husband – not to change the situation, but to have a chance to express yourself honestly.
The second issue is about “trying to cope.” What would need to change for you to see your daily life as joyful instead of coping? Where do you get the most joy in your life each day? Maybe it is giving your child a big hug after school, or taking 15 to minutes to be quiet and alone during the day? If you can identify the times in your day that are joyous and focus on those times, you will begin to create more of them. Also, where are the places that feel very draining? How can you either delegate or decrease the stress during those times? Hang in there and take good care of your needs in addition to the needs of those around you. Jamee – 40 something
Coping with a traveling spouse is extremely stressful. You are right for feel worn-out, and somewhat resentful. I’ve been in the same situation, and it’s not fun. In the short term, I would suggest you do everything you can to take charge of reducing your stress. Find a way to exercise, for instance. If you can’t afford a gym, maybe set up a babysitting swap with a neighbor so you can walk a few times a week. Make simple dinners whenever you can, volunteer a bit less at the school — you’re going to have to gauge your own stress level so be diligent about keeping it at a reasonable simmer.
In the long term, I would suggest you talk to your husband about trying to find another job. I don’t think it’s wise to just up and quit, but if he understands how burnt out you are getting; he can make plans to steer his career to a position that stays local. Amy C. – 40 something
When my kids were little, my husband traveled and also came home late at night-often after the kids had gone to bed. I also was in charge of the finances and everything kid related so I understand what you are going through. What I want to stress is that this kind of perpetual responsibility can strain your relationship with your husband. I found that I was often angry at him for not coming home in time for dinner or to help with the kids. But since he was the main breadwinner, I felt like I couldn’t say anything about his timing. I suggest that you sit down and talk to your husband about how he might help you. If he is literally not at home because of travel, perhaps you need to find some money for a housecleaner-even once a month-to help you out. Or do you need a babysitter to give you some time during the day? If there is no extra money, you may want to start a babysitting co-op, where you share babysitting with neighbors. What you do need is to give yourself a break. Often we feel that since they are the ones “working” they need a break but we don’t. What you are doing-being home with your kids-is very important and will make a difference in your children’s lives. But you must make sure to take good care of yourself-no one else will. Ann – 50 something
How fortunate to have a helpful hubby! Try taking a clue from military wives, who are frequently faced with an absent spouse, and run things as if you were a single parent. You will automatically scale down and become more time efficient. Try carpooling for activities and if you can afford it hire outside help. And, make sure you are not using your husband’s travels as an excuse for a lack of organizational skills or for an overcrowded schedule that is easily upset by unexpected events. It’s easy to do if you depend on him too much. Prioritize, organize, and try lowering your expectations if they are too far from reality at this time given the ages of your children and their dependence on you. Marge – 70 something