Sunday, February 26, 2017

Coping with a husband being gone so much

** I originally posted on this topic back in 2011 when I was working full time outside the home. This is updated to add some notes now that I have a couple of years of experience as a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom and my children are older. **


As a fire wife, one of the struggles is being home alone. A lot. Feeling like a single mom. A lot.

In fact, I have a whole new respect for single moms. And for military wives / moms. Because I know how hard it is with as much as Jason is gone, and I can't imagine being on my own all the time, or until he came home on leave.

It's important that you voice your frustrations to him. Not in a I'm-pissed-at-you-way, but in a I'm-frustrated-and-I'm-struggling-way.
He needs to know what you're going thru.

This is also a good time to ask him what his frustrations are with his schedule. Like missing out on kids' milestones, not playing with them as much, not enough date nights with you, etc.

It's important that the two of you at least try to understand where both of you are coming from, because you are both in very different positions.

You're not in the normal two-income family, where both parents leave in the morning, and both parents come home every night, Monday thru Friday.

You're not the normal one-income family, where he leaves in the morning and comes home every night. Depending on shifts and second jobs he's gone 24-48 hours at a stretch, or sometimes longer.

He's spending nights away from home, having dinner, spending time, and sleeping with other people, while you take care of the kids and the house by yourself after putting in a full day of work.

He doesn't have a "weekend", as his shift includes Saturdays and Sundays. He'll work holidays too, leaving you to handle the celebrations alone. He will miss your daughter's soccer games, even though they're on Saturdays. He will miss a lot of family events thru the years.

This creates stress and frustrations for each of you, but you each have a different kind of frustration.
He has the frustration of not being there, and you have the frustration of being there alone. It's very different, so you must communicate.

The fact is that being in a situation where your spouse is gone much of the time, well... it sucks. It just does.

As far as taking care of the children, and the house:

Things became much simpler for me when I just took Jason out of the equation, when it comes to taking care of the house and the kids.

You just do it yourself. If you need a sitter for some reason, you take care of arranging it, and you do what you need to do. You do all the daycare drop-offs and pick-ups, even if he's home. You plan on doing all of the housework, even if it's his off day. You handle all of the feedings, all of the baths. You feed all the pets, clean all of the poop (pet & baby - ha!). You get everyone dressed in the mornings, get everyone ready to go. Even if he's there.

Keep him in the loop on everything, but just accept it as what you have to do so he can do what he has to do.

This has really helped me / us. It doesn't make the actual work any easier, but it eases a lot of frustration because I don't feel I'm counting on him to do something that he's just not going to do.

And then when he does volunteer to take care of something, it's like a bonus. For everyone.

And that lowers everyone's stress level.

At the same time, you need to realize & accept that you can't do everything. Prioritize what's most important. Obviously taking care of your child(ren) is a must, but other housework, chores, etc.... prioritize, and do the top things first, even if they're inconvenient or unpleasant.

Give it some time & figure out what you can reasonably do in a day, a week, etc. Then talk to your husband and see if he can pick up some of the rest. If not, or if he's not sure, factor him out of the equation.

If that's just not a possibility, then your choices are paying someone to do it (ie. housework), or it just not getting done (ie. housework), or not getting done as frequently as you'd like (ie. housework).

Guess you can tell what doesn't get done at our house, huh?  (ie. housework - ha!)

And you both have to accept that. Because it's reality.

You can't beat yourself up because after working a full day outside the home, or spending hours each day schooling your children, taking care of the kid(s) by yourself, and the putting another couple of hours of housework in before bed, you're still not "done".

You will never be "done".

He can't come home expecting a clean & tidy house, perfectly stocked cupboard, and dinner on the table after you've been working full days outside of the home, or homeschooled the children, doing all (or the vast majority) of the childcare yourself, and all (or the vast majority) of the housework yourself.

It's not physically possible. It's just not.

Oh, you might have a mountaintop moment once in a while, but it's unreasonable for either of you to expect things to be maintained at that level.

And for all the SAHMs out there, one thing I figured out really quickly since becoming a SAHM is this little secret that those who work outside the home don't get (or at least I didn't, and I still think my husband doesn't):

If the kids are home all day, not in school, or pre-school, or in daycare, or wherever, then that means they have more time to make messes in the home. I totally did not grasp that until I started staying home. When I worked, sure messes happened, things were untidy, but the waking time that Jena was home was limited, therefore messes were limited. This is not the case when you all stay home every day. Not. At. All.

## side note - I determined my top priorities to be: laundry, grocery shopping, and doing the dishes. I figured if I could keep clean clothes on my family, food for them to eat, and clean dishes for them to eat off of, then I was doing pretty well. The rest I look at as bonus. ##


As far as scheduling goes, we share a Google Calendar, that I can access at home or on phone, and he can access on his phone as well. This has helped immensely when it comes to scheduling even the little things.

I can see when is shifts are (because even though they are every 3rd day, like clockwork, I still cannot keep that straight in my head), when he has extra things to do, when he has jobs for the family business, etc.
He can see when I've made plans and he needs to be home. In fact, now that we have a family business, there are often days that I block his calendar so he or his brother don't schedule him work. I only do this if I really & truly need him to be available, or if we've discussed it and he's agreed. This is important. He can trust me to only block his schedule when I absolutely need him, and I can trust him to honor my requests in his schedule.


He's doing what he feels he needs to do to provide for his family financially, and even if he might be willing to look at another career path eventually, well, it's not going to happen overnight.

So you just have to come to terms within yourself with the reality of your situation, as it is at this moment, and deal with it in the best way you can.

You make it work. You do what you need to do, and you make it work for your family.

It's not fun. It's not glamourous. It sucks. And sometimes it really, really sucks.

But you do it. You make it work.


And there it is. My advice on how to handle your husband being gone so much.

Thanks for reading! And hopefully this will help someone out there get a handle on things! Does anyone have any advice to add?

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