Your partner has an amazing job. They love what they do, and they get to travel often. Which is great until you realize that it’s not always great when you’re the one left home. When your partner travels for work, it can be hard on your relationship, hard on your kids, and hard on you. It doesn’t matter if they travel for one night a month, or for three months a year, it’s hard to be left home alone. It adds stress to your life. Like most things in life, it’s not always possible to avoid work travel. Here’s how to cope when you have a partner that’s jet setting to new and adventurous places (or even just the next town over).
Nope, you aren’t a single parent. It can feel like you are though when your partner is away and you’re left home alone with the kids. All of the sudden, you’re in charge of taking care of everything. If you’re struggling to keep up, you might have to make some changes to your regular routine.
- Get up before your kids. When your partner is travelling for work, you need to be at the top of your game. Getting up before your kids will give you plenty of time to get everyone ready for the day. It’ll also give you some time to yourself before your kids need you.
- Hire a sitter or ask a family member for help. You may not “need” a sitter. But if your partner is gone long enough it might save you some stress to hire a sitter, family member, or friend to come play with your kids while you go shopping alone. That extra help can save your sanity.
- Start bedtime early. By the end of the day, everyone is a little grumpy. Save yourself some stress and potential bedtime tantrums by starting bedtime early. If you start early enough, you’ll have plenty of time to get everyone in bed before it gets too late. Bonus: getting your kids to bed on time means more time for yourself.
- Make contact with mommy or daddy. It’s not just you that misses your partner when they travel. Whenever possible, try to touch base with your partner while they’re travelling. That might mean a quick video chat that allows your kids and partner to talk right be before bed. If your partner can’t chat while they’re gone, have them leave notes or special treats for the kids to be doled out randomly while they’re gone.
One of the biggest challenges with a partner that travels is that your relationship can suffer if you aren’t careful. There are a few ways you can protect your relationship during work trips.
- Discuss things beforehand. How long will your partner be gone? Why do they need to travel? What will they be doing? What are the expectations you have for one another during the trip? Having all the information will help the non-travelling partner get on board, and stay on board during work trips.
- Develop rituals. Maybe that means seeing him off before he leaves, no matter when that happens. Perhaps you leave love notes in their luggage. She might bring home gifts or small tokens for you and the kids. Develop rituals together that will help ease the transition to and from the trip.
- Talk daily. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. You need that time to connect and discuss what’s happening on both sides of the marriage. It allows your partner to vent their business concerns, and it’ll allow you to have some adult conversation every day too.
- Realize it’s not a fairy tale. It’s easy to feel like your travelling partner is seeing and doing amazing things during their work trips. Instead of focusing on that, realize that it’s not all fun and games. A work trip is not a vacation. Your partner is working. They’re tired from jet lag. They’re probably sick of eating out. They miss you and the kids. They’re lonely. Understanding that it’s not always easy for them will help you have less resentment when the inevitable work trip happens.
Being the partner of someone who travels often for work is hard. In fact, partners of people who travel often for work experience more stress. Taking care of yourself is an important part of coping.
- Socialize. Set up a playdate with a friend who has kids. Go out to lunch with your besties. Make an effort to get out of the house and talk to someone.
- Look at your time alone as a positive. You don’t have to share the TV with someone and you can work on whatever projects you want. You might even have time to read that book you’ve been meaning to read.
- Escape when they get home. The last thing your partner might want to do when they get home is manage the kids alone. But, it’s good for them to spend time with the kids. It’s also good for you to spend a little extra time sleeping in or getting out alone.
- Cash in on reward points. In the majority of cases, your partner can earn rewards points for all the travel they are doing. When they earn enough, you can cash in those points for family vacations, or even to tag along when they have a trip to a place you’d really like to see.
It’s not always easy to have a partner who travels often for work. Thankfully there are ways to cope with the challenges of a travelling partner so you, your relationship, and your family don’t suffer from all that travel.