My husband travels pretty frequently for work. He’ll be gone anywhere from two to five days at a time. Somehow, back when I was working, it always landed on the ONLY TWO DAYS I actually had to go in to work. Trips were always over a Tuesday and Wednesday. Sometimes my daughter and I would just spend the night at my parents’ house so that I didn’t have to get her out in the morning by myself.
Now that I stay at home, work trips aren’t as big of a deal. It was actually one of the reasons I wanted to stay home after we had our second kid. Being able to stay in our little routines is so helpful. It keeps the kids (and me!) in a good mood while Daddy’s gone.
Sometimes, I am a total rockstar Mom and keep the house running smoothly while Dad is away and I’m flying solo. Sometimes, it takes us until day 3 of his trip to get the house under control. The biggest difference between a good work trip and a bad one? Preparation. (And low expectations)
Make the coffee. I have a great cold-brew contraption that can supply me with a work-trip worth of coffee in the refrigerator. On the days I don’t want coffee, I brew some tea. Whatever you fancy, have it on hand ahead of time. Otherwise, you’re stuck considering if it’s worth getting the kids out to get your caffeine. Because, of course, if you give a mom a coffee, the kids will want some donuts.
Take a shower at the last possible minute. My husband usually has to leave at some ungodly hour to catch his flight, and there’s no way I’m getting up that early. I grab a shower the night before, because with two young kids running around, it could be 48 hours before the stars align so I can shower again. So get in there and get clean. I’m not talking about an efficiency shower here. Wash your hair AND shave your legs. Do what you need to do to get your hair to last a couple days.
Put the laundry away. Trust me. The basket of folded laundry at the end of the bed doesn’t bother me until I don’t have ten spare minutes to put it away. Then it turns into a basket of annoyance. Inevitably, one of the kids will tip over that basket of annoyance and turn it into a pile of annoyance PLUS another chore to add to my list.
Get the kitchen at least mostly clean. When I walk into a sink full of dishes on day one of a trip, I’m already behind. If the kitchen is clean, I’ll actually cook for the kids instead of defaulting to PB&J for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At the bare minimum, make sure the cereal bowls and the cookie sheets (for chicken nuggets) are clean. I’ve pretty much outlawed sippy cups in my house, because I’m not dealing with the headache of cleaning all those parts. Take & Toss for the win!
Make plans. When my husband is gone, the kids and I don’t stay in the house very much unless they’re sick. We go visit people, we go shopping, we just try to stay out of the house for as long as possible. We have a lot of local family, so it’s pretty easy for us to stay busy. It’s much better for all of us- the kids get to do some fun things and my patience lasts a lot longer than if we had stayed home all day. Something about being out of our house makes the day go by a lot faster.
Make sure you have all the milk, bread, diapers, and eggs you could possibly need. I tend to do the “big shopping” with the kids anyway, but I rely on my husband for those “run in and grab two things” trips. I get ten times more annoyed with myself if I run out of those essentials when he’s out of town because then I have to load the kids up and get them in and out of the store for a gallon of milk.
Also, make sure you have a stash of chocolate in a secret location. The bedtime routine is a lot more satisfying when you have a reward waiting for you behind the granola bars.
How do you get ready for your spouse to leave? Every time it happens, it just increases my respect for those parents who do it all on their own all time!
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