Years ago, way back when we "only" had two kids, my husband had a ridiculous 1 1/2 hour commute on the bus (when there wasn't traffic...and since he worked in Manhattan....), and we only had one car that needed to pick him up and drop him off from the bus station. This was a lot of fun, especially when my son was a newborn, and my daughter was known for falling asleep at completely inappropriate times because she'd fought it so hard, so long, all day long.
Back then, I thought it was the worst thing in the world to have a husband that was never home for dinner, let alone for the bedtime circus.
Then, he had to start travelling for work, and I was shown how completely wrong I could be.
There is nothing so annoying as getting a phone call from your husband, who is trying to squeeze in a few minutes of "You haven't murdered the kids yet, have you?" while he's waiting for his table at some fancy steakhouse with the rest of his co-workers, and you are looking at eating a box of macaroni and cheese (leftover from lunch) with two small children. The only time I ever felt more sorry for myself were on the nights when he left said fancy steakhouse to work as a body guard for some supermodels.
Yes. Supermodels. Several of them, in fact.
Now, having worked in the same industry (indeed, for the same company), I KNOW, intellectually, what these models look like in real life (read:total freak show. The camera really DOES add 10 lbs.), and I also know that you have never met a more miserable collective of humanity (they are HUNGRY. Just think of how cranky you get when you are hungry. They feel that way all day long, every single day). And never mind what it does to your mind when your job function is only as a very expensive clothes hanger.
But still... It doesn't matter. It's just the point. It's really hard to feel any kind of glamour about your own life when you haven't showered, are still wearing your pajamas, and smell suspiciously of a combination of chicken nuggets and Baby Whoops.
Fortunately, all that has changed. After two years of struggling with unemployment, He got a job that requires travelling five days a week. Every. Single. Week. And, after having barely survived his period of unemployment, we are grateful. But it ain't easy. The schedule is hell, too. He sometimes has to work night shifts, which means he's spending most of his weekends trying to catch up on the very little sleep he got during the week. Read: I have to try and keep four kids quiet in the house at 5:00 in the evening. Which, if you have ANY kids, you know has an insane level of difficulty.
The first week I operated under these conditions, I felt like I should get a T-shirt saying that I survived, but then, the success of my survival was totally questionable. Now, several months into this pace, I've come up with some things to focus on when this is your life (Probably because I'm delusional and grasping at straws, but you have to stay positive, right?)
The Tired Mother's Survival Guide
While Your Husband's Out of Town:
1) Your house stays cleaner. You are minus one person to clean up after (unless you are one of the lucky ones married to a man that does all the cleaning.). In my house, this means I am no longer finding a pair of jeans and a pair of shoes on his chair in the dining room.
2) You own the remote. There is no one to criticize your addiction to Downton Abbey. Or the fact that you want to view it with a little chocolate and a glass of wine.
3) You can totally dumb down your culinary game. The kids will be thrilled with a diet of chicken nuggets and pizza, and dinner will be much more enjoyable for everyone. Children that usually bypass on dinner because they are trying to subsist on air have been known to come to the table during these times. He's eating out every night, and if he's anything like my husband, will take glamour shots of what he's enjoying on that particular evening. Feel free to order in, and blame me.
4) Bedtime is when you say it is. That includes six pm, people. The only downside is that you are also on the morning shift.
5) If the house is trashed when he gets home, he will assume it was a rough week, and will help clean out of guilt. Be sure to not correct his assumption.
6) There is no one to get mad at for not taking out the trash. When it stinks, there is no delay in getting it out of the house, unless you are too busy to do it. Which, if it's bad enough, never happens, right?
7) After he's been away all week, he's missed the kids. So running a few errands without anyone in tow is not unreasonable when he IS home. It's the coming back from them that's not so easy. (What? I have to COME BACK???)
8) Anything you are trying to train your kids to do should be done now. Trying to sleep train, but your husband has trouble saying no to co-sleeping? Get to work. Trying to potty train but your husband doesn't want to clean up a mess so he derails the process by putting a pull up on your toddler? Good bye pull-ups! Want to teach your kids to do certain chores? Now's a great time because you really do need all the help you can get. You can get these done your way, with very little interference.
9) That nap you need to take mid-day with your kids is now a total necessity, and should not be bypassed if the opportunity arises. There's nobody to pass the kids to when you are tired in the evenings. So rest when you can. It's not a race, it's a triathalon.
10) Especially if you have kids that are not in school yet: Find a friend to have Movie Night with. When my oldest two were little, my best friend would come over with her daughter on the nights her husband was working late at their church. We'd cook dinner together and eat. She would run baths, and I would clean up after dinner. Then we'd pop a movie in for the kids and have a chat over some laundry, scrapbook, or just plain relax. She's great to have over because my house was always left a little cleaner than it was before she got there. Bedtime was at 8, so we'd end the party then, and most times, the kid travelling would fall asleep in the car. We'd also fix plates for the husbands, so they had something to eat when they got home. We'd alternate houses every week. It was beautiful.
11) You have prime real estate in the bed. Initially, the bed will feel too big without him. But you'll get over that really fast. Even the Heat Seeking Missile you find crawling into your bed at 2am, with your kidneys on radar-lock has enough room to move around. Which is good, because some kids are like sleeping with Circque Du Soleil performers.
12) Did I mention the house stays cleaner?
The important thing, is to remember to just put one foot in front of the other. It doesn't last forever, although some days, it seems like it. Personally, I thought Gloria Steinham was going to put me on a hit list if I admitted that I'm fearful of sleeping in the house without my husband. I don't know why- I lived alone for years before I met him. Then my mother, in one of her "Suck It Up" moments that we all find so endearing reminded me that Foofoofee was a softball player. So now, the metal bat has a permanent position under my bed, and I sleep much better... as long as the cat doesn't tease the dog at 3am....
Friday does come, at the same point, every week. You will have missed your husband while he was gone, enough so that you won't mind quite so much when he leaves his jeans in the dining room, and "forgets" to take out the trash. And he will have missed you too. So do not fall into the trap of making it look like it was easy, while he was away. You don't want to get stuck doing everything, do you?
How do you stay sane when your husband is out of town? Leave a comment in the comment section... Because I obviously could use all the help I can get!