All. the. time.
People are constantly asking me how I do it. There are times when I ask myself the very same thing. It is not an easy task. Today I thought it would be fun to share my secrets and tell you exactly how I survive.
Because some days? It really is just about surviving. Like when you are talking on the phone at the end of a long day where you were puked on, peed on, changed enough diapers to make a landfill, endured the same episode of Barney 17 times, and felt that your life was the equivalent of a non-negotiable hostage situation.
The slight depression you feel on those days can go from bad to worse when you listen as he describes the five-star restaurant he ate at, and the plush accommodations he gets all to himself; all the while, the little people in your home are pummeling you with soggy cheerios for having the audacity to talk on the phone for five whole seconds.
It would be easy to hate him for it.
But because I know he's sparing me the details of his heated, intense meetings with clients, nights spent re-working financial models of young associates who have no clue what they're doing, and the 14-hour days in hospitals, meeting with boards, I don't hate him for it.
I love him even more.
But I have figured out some things through the years that have helped me cope with this lifestyle that we've chosen. I've come up with a series of rules for you to live by, if you ever find yourself in my shoes; be it for a day or forever.
1. Self-pride is paramount to your happiness. Just because your man will not see you every day, does not mean you get to wear sweats all around town and not do your hair or make-up. My hard and fast rule is that I always shower, get ready, and wear actual clothes, even if no one sees me. It makes me feel pretty and gives me a sense of self-worth, which in turn, makes me a nicer mom.
2. Fiercely guard your family time. Our weekends are absolutely sacred to us. We do not schedule play dates or friend time when Dad is home. The kids have missed him all week, and he is ready to play with them on the weekends. He is not one of those guys that needs a few hours by himself to unwind. He wants us, and we are good and ready for him.
We may not have quantity, but we do have quality when it comes to his time.
3. Learn to be an independent do-it-yourselfer. I have taught myself many things over the years about home repair, yard maintenance, and car upkeep. I don't leave those unpleasant jobs for him to do on the weekends, if possible. When I only get to see him two days a week, why would I want to have him sitting at Jiffy Lube with the car half the day? I take care of anything I can, or hire someone to do it for me.
4. Let the little things go. Yes, it annoys me when he slings his pants over the side of a chair instead of hanging them up. But do I really want to spend precious time yelling at him for it? Or, for that matter, would I be receptive to any criticism from him in regards to my own faults and failings?
Not bloody likely, I can promise you that.
So leave him alone. Ignore the small stuff. Be glad he works so hard for your family and make him feel appreciated. You will be surprised at the appreciation and love that flows your way from him, too.
5. Take care of your man -ahem- and his physical needs. This is very, very important to the health and happiness of everyone. (Because my brothers and various male relatives read this, I'll just leave it at that.)
6. Take time for yourself. I am a firm believer in the six o'clock bedtime, and religiously stick to it.
That's right, my friends, I said six o'clock.
My kids have always been early risers, and would wake up at the crack of dawn no matter what time they went to sleep. So, I figured, why not put them to sleep earlier, ensuring they get a good amount of rest? It worked, and they would crash every night at about six, leaving me a few hours to unwind and detox. Even though they are old enough now that they don't fall asleep right at six, I still put them in their rooms at that time.
I know what you're thinking. And I don't care if you judge me.
It has been our routine for years, and they know they are to play quietly in their rooms, read books, or build legos until lights-out at 7:30. It's a little down time for them, and helps me not do a lot of the yelling.
Nobody likes the yelling.
I find myself wholly unable to parent much past six, and definitely take advantage of the 'me' time to recharge.
7. And last, but not least, have realistic expectations. Plan on doing the carpool, the baseball pick-up, the ballet run yourself, and figure out how to make things work on your own. Nothing starts the agitation in a marriage like the expectation that he'll be home in time for dinner. Because when he's not? You're mad as hell and spitting nails by the time he does stroll in. But if you just plan on him not being there, go about your routine, when he happens to sneak away early, you are pleasantly surprised.
So, interpeeps, what are your tricks to surviving a traveling spouse? Anything I'm missing here?