Traveling Spouse Blues


Parenting without the support of family is a wide-spread DC problem. For instance, military spouses are acutely aware of how isolating parenting can be with a deployed spouse. Although not in the military, here is my story of parenting with a spouse up in the air and on the road.

On the Road Again

First off, my husband is wonderful: a hard-worker and a dedicated family man. Given the choice, he would spend as much time at home as possible.  But, right now, his work demands travel and long hours.  

When we first met, my husband traveled a ton internationally. Then, we moved to DC. He was grateful for his new job because his travel was going to be a lot less and all domestic! Big win for him and us. But… Fast forward to today–we have 3 children and he is still traveling. There are times he’s gone on two or three trips a month. I’ve gotten used to it and I think our children have, too, but it’s still hard on all of us – me, him, and the kids.

I Will Survive 

A husband on the road means acclimating to solo parenting and all the additional work it entails. It’s easy when he’s away on one or two-night trips. I get to watch my trash TV, drink wine in bed, and I don’t have to cook dinner for us. Love it!  
But, the three to five-night trips that linger over the weekends are rough! I have very little adult interaction during these trips, and that can really get to me. I know it’s bad when I want to corner the mail carrier just for a chat! Luckily, I have a part-time job that I love, which helps me escape from the kids for a few hours day. And when I run and exercise, I can clear my head from the madness of three kids and a dog!  
Usually, I’m in a pretty set routine and the house runs smoothly while he is away. Of course, there are hiccups, but I manage to try and get back on track the next day. I know my kids can only eat cereal for dinner so many nights in a row, for example! Thank goodness for play dates, school, running, my part-time job, friends, wine and screaming behind closed doors.    

Don’t Stop Believing

I have to think about my husband when he travels too.  I know it is hard on him to be away from us for long periods of time. And, when he walks in the door, the kids want him and only him. I feel like chopped liver (at best). Honestly, I totally agree with them – I wouldn’t want much to do with me either after our many, many days together. Good thing I don’t take any of it personally! And the moments of pure joy when we are all together are sustaining for when he inevitably has to take the next trip.  Transitioning back to a family of five has it’s bumps too!
So to all the parents with spouses who travel, there are others out there who feel your pain. Hang in there, and don’t forget your spouse would probably much rather be at home than on the road. It gets easier and easier as your children get older.  

Tips for Coping with a Traveling Spouse:

  • Plan a mom’s night out, or lots of play dates to keep you busy with adult conversations.
  • Try and tag along on one of the trips.
  • Keep your same routine for you and the children, it really helps.
  • Don’t be afraid to serve pizza 3-4 nights in a row! The kids will be just fine. 
  • Exercise, it’ll help clear your head.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Book a babysitter to help with your kids’ nighttime routines, if needed.
  • Enjoy your own free time when the kids are asleep! 
  • Have your family fly up for to visit. 
Do you have any other tips for those of us whose partners travel frequently? Share them in the comments!