"Absence makes the heart grow fonder" - Eleanor Roosevelt
Growing up I don't remember either of my parents traveling often. My dad was a hunter, so every fall he would take a hunting trip with his buddies. My mom did a great job of making the best of it. I have fun memories of staying up late, making popcorn balls, fudge, and homemade hot cocoa.
My marriage and family has been quite different. Travel is something that both my husband and I end up doing quite regularly and it has been even before our kids were born. Said husband was traveling last week and it made me think about some of the things that we have learned over the years that have both helped us as a couple and as a family. Thank goodness we now have cell phones and internet connectivity almost anywhere! So here they are, my top 10 tips:
1. Be realistic about phone calls. Timing can be difficult when separated, thus cutting real communication short. *Make it a point to leave each other messages throughout the day when things come to mind or you just want to tell them that you love them, are proud of them, praying for them or that the toilet is clogged in such a way that you don't know how to unclog it! :)
2. Set aside a time to reconnect after the travels Listen to one another's adventures from the time spent apart
3. Commit to praying for your spouse daily while they are gone.
I LOVE this about my husband. He prays out loud over the kids and I each time before one of us leaves - it gives me such a sense of peace to know that he is praying for us. We try to give each other a couple of specific requests that usually involve our activities while we are apart and then we try to come up with one or two things on our own to increase the other as an individual - physically, mentally, emotionally or Spiritually.
4. Realize it is NOT a vacation! (Unless, of course, it is!) After we had kids, I began to feel resentful each time my husband left. I knew he was eating out and sleeping all night (even if in a hotel bed.) I could get myself really worked up about how easy he had things. However, there are a lot of stresses about traveling and although there may be perks here and there, the stresses tend to outweigh the perks. Don't allow your mind to park on resentments.
5. Tell your children about travel plans in advance. When they have time to process and talk about it, the transition is easier.
6. Give your children a role to fill while you are gone. The "man" of the house while daddy is away; "mommy's helper" with your younger brother or sister; "Daddy's eyes" to watch out for brother at ball games, etc. If they feel like they have an important role to fill it will help you to be able to refocus them if they have sad moments. If sad at bedtime, distract them by planning a "stuffed animal sleep over" in one of their rooms and then alternate rooms.
7. Reward your children when they are helping out! My daughter is such a HUGE help for me when my husband travels. I have been known to draw her a bubble bath with candles and music (in MY tub) when she has really been contributing more than normal with my younger two. She cannot do enough for me after special moments like those which makes it WELL worth the effort!
8. We have a family point system. Each point is worth a dollar. We call them "(last name) Points." They can only earn them when we see them going out of their way to help another family member.
9. Plan to eat out at least once! You need to allow yourself a "back up" plan for dinner one night to save the sanity!
10. Build Anticipation for a spouse's return. One or two nights before my husband returns I tell the kids "how many more 'sleeps' it will be until daddy gets home" We try to work together to make the house look nice and I let them stay up late for his arrival if it isn't too late.
I'd love to hear some of your best tips!! Many Blessings!
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