So if you have been reading my blog over the past few weeks you know that Michael is traveling the world on business. Daddy’s absence has caused some shifts in our household, and in an effort to keep it real here on the blog I thought what better “first post” to the Mommy Diaries than this?
About six months ago we learned that Michael (Daddy) would be traveling internationally for business. At first my concerns were about the job. Does this mean you are going to be updating your resume soon? Should I start stockpiling pork and beans for the unemployment line? Do I need to start a second job at Wal-Mart? I know that most people would have immediately jumped to the emotional you’re traveling for how long, but I’m a planner and by nature I look a year ahead instead of the immediate.
So after I finished running through the millions of job scenarios in my mind (which took about three minutes) I then started thinking about the immediate. Wait, you’re leaving for how long!!!!!????!!!!! You mean you’re going to get on a plane, travel to a foreign country that requires you to have shots before entering and where you will need to take pills to make sure you do not contract a serious disease, and I’m supposed to be okay with it? While my outward expression may have been one of calm and support, inside I really wanted to pick up the nearest heavy object and lob it at anyone who had a part in making this decision that impacted my husband. I guess you could say that I wasn’t happy…I can think of a few other choice words and guestures that crossed my mind, but in an effort to be the supportive wife I worked hard at putting on a brave face. After all, I wasn’t the one going to the third world.
As the trip crept closer I began planning events to keep Maddy and myself busy while Michael was away. Okay, let’s keep it real, as soon as I had definitive travel dates I attacked the calendar like the true obsessive compulsive that I am and worked to plan every inch of it. We scheduled concerts, day trips, overnight trips, parties, zoo camp. You name it, I thought about putting it on the calendar. I threw myself into preparing Michael for every scenario that could possibly take place while he was away packing enough food, cleaning supplies, and medicine to last for a month. I think he could have cleaned his hotel room every day without a maid service and still had products left over…next time I think I’ll dial back on the Purel and Clorox wipes. I wrote him letters for every day he was gone, and Maddy helped with pictures.
But nothing could have really prepared us for the time he was away. I’m going to be honest with you: having a spouse travel on business sucks. Aside from the frequent flier miles and hotel points there really isn’t a whole lot of perks to the ordeal. I would take spending time as a family over a free frequent flier ticket any day. But we survived…maybe I should save saying that when he actually gets off the plane on Saturday.
So what are some tips for living through business travel? Since I’m a list type of girl…here ya go:
1. Plan Activities: While I may have gone a little overboard it totally helped kill the time apart.
2. Make a Call Schedule: Since I planned a billion activities we also developed a time that we knew we would be in contact every day. It did change during the weeks, but we always made a point to talk to each other and for Michael to talk to Maddy at least once (and usually twice) a day.
3. Skype & Face Time: If you have access to wifi and can use either of these products do it! They were lifesavers. If you have followed Michael’s blog you also know how much he relied on these to keep in contact with Maddy. If you have little ones these are wonderful!
4. Talk about Your Feelings: You go through the gamut of emotions when your spouse travels. Anyone who says otherwise it lying or on something that they need to share with me. Take the time to tell your traveling spouse how you are feeling. Talk about your day. If phone or Internet conferencing is not available then send an e-mail. Because of the time difference Michael and I could not always have long conversations, so we simply e-mailed.
5. Find a Project for Yourself: Eventually the kids are going to go to bed and you are going to be in a quiet house. I am the type of person who needs something to do so for me I poured a lot of my time into art journaling and blogging. Each night I have updated Michael via blog on the events of Maddy’s day and then I have taken some creative time and worked on an art journal specifically about my feelings during his travels. If you’re not a person who wants to journal or paper craft then I encourage you to find something else to do. Tackle a home improvement or decorating project, clean out closets, watch the movies your spouse will never watch with you if they were home, read a book, the list is endless.
6. Use Your Support System: If you have family nearby this is the time to visit them. I am fortunate in that I have an amazing support system that I have been able to rely on. Maddy has definitely enjoyed the time with her grandparents, aunts, uncle, cousin, and friends. A strong support system can help you through the insanity of separation. If you are scheduling activities: include them!
There are a lot of other things that have helped us through his trip, but it still does not mean we do not have sad times. We miss him when he is away and cannot wait for his return!