My husband travels for work…a lot, at least it seems like a lot to me. About a year ago, he accepted a new job at his company, working for a newly formed department. We knew this job would require travel “as needed,” and he gratefully accepted the new position.
It didn’t seem that bad to start with, as he didn’t start traveling until he’d been in the new position for a few weeks. He would go anywhere and everywhere he was sent without question, and I happily agreed to take care of our four year old daughter while he was coming and going.
A couple of months in, his travel picked up. He went from a being gone five days a month to 10 or even 15, based on the department’s needs. Since Christmas, he has been gone just about every other week, at least five or six days at a time. Not even the head of his department knew how much travel the team would end up doing, and no one estimated it would be nearly this much.
This made me realize that I needed to come up with an action plan to combat my extreme feelings of loneliness and isolation during those “single parent weeks.” Here’s what’s been working for me:
Build up a supply of babysitters
As someone who works full time, becoming the sole caregiver for our daughter, after daycare closes, can be exhausting, especially since I hadn’t realized just how used to always having my husband around I had gotten over the last four years. There are times when this Momma needs a break. That’s when I rely on several trusted babysitters. I schedule at least one evening for myself, to be alone or with friends, during my husband’s travel. About half of the time that my husband’s gone, one of his two weeks away is scheduled and the other is spur of the moment. I’m fortunate to have found great babysitters through our daycare, but there are also online services you can use if you’re in need. From experience, try to have more than one on hand if possible. If your favorite babysitter is unavailable when needed, you’ll have someone else to call.
Create a community
Have you heard of Knoxville Moms Blog Community Neighborhood Groups? These are a great resource on Facebook to gather moms together. Currently, there are 10 neighborhood groups set up. Check it out!
I have also recently begun attending a church near our house. The potential for making friends with a group of folks that think like I do, that might live in my area and have kids that are our daughter’s age, is very exciting to me. If that sounds like an option for you, go for it. If not, I have other ideas!
If you work outside the home, consider gathering a group of friends from work and going to lunch or just grabbing a cup of coffee at a nearby shop. It may not sound like much, but it’s better than losing your sanity with a box of Samoas at 11pm on a Tuesday, am I right?!
This may seem counter-intuitive, but I have recently begun intentionally making lots of plans for us, when my husband is traveling. Once I identified the feelings I was having — isolation and loneliness — while he was away, I started filling up our calendar. We go to the movies, have play dates at home, or visit friends at least one night a week when he’s gone. This gives our daughter something to look forward to, and helps reduce my stress over what we’ll do for at least one evening that week. Plus, it gets me out of the house and around other adults. That’s a win-win if you ask me!