My husband just found a job in another country. More on that in an upcoming post (7 days to wait). He is now commuting back and forth every week-end and sometimes every fortnight like over the school holidays when we decided I’d go to Dubai with the kids and my parents.
I won’t lie, it’s been hard. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and have always been supportive and inspired by friends whose husbands are away on a business trip every other week. I suppose what’s even tougher is that my husband is the perfect house husband. Even at our wedding party’s speeches, exactly 10 years ago today, he got called “Tony Danza”. Guess who’s been been the boss? 😉
Highly involved husband
He cooks, he bakes, he cleans, he vacuums, he does the laundry, he goes grocery shopping, he helps me when I’m stuck on one of the Candy Crush levels! While he was between jobs he dropped off and picked up the kids every day and helped with their homework. He also helped with the admin when we moved to Switzerland, at the same time he was the one who drove the move so I didn’t feel guilty letting him sort out the paperwork, health insurance, permits, new car etc…
Now that he’s away during the week it’s a big drama. I got stuck for a whole 2 weeks on level 248 of Candy Crush. Booohooo! In all seriousness, I’m not a housewife, I don’t like cleaning (and have a high tolerance in that area). From day one, my plan was to study and get a good enough job so I can hire a cleaner. And as we are sharing our washing machine and dryer with other tenants in the building, the only day I can do my laundry is Wednesday night: 3 batches between 6pm and 10pm!
The hardest is week is when there’s an extra holiday. 2 weeks ago the Monday was off. That makes all of Monday and half of Wednesday dedicated to kids, so not much time to do all the chores and develop my own business. I got tired and really cranky.
So how do I cope with him being away?
- I give more responsibilities to the kids (aged 6 and 3.5) and get them busy with helpful tasks i.e. setting the table and cleaning up after dinner, pack away their clean folded clothes in heir drawer. So they don’t mess around in the meantime
- set a routine including practicing guitare everyday, homework,helping around dinner as above, video call with daddy
- get out on Wednesday afternoon weather permitting so they plenty of pure fresh air, get physically tired, more hungry and fall a sleep earlier
- trust my eldest son to finish up breakfast, clean up, get dressed and go to school by himself on time while I”m dropping off his brother 10 minutes earlier
- hire a babysitter for when I’m going to dance class on Tuesday nights
- hire a cleaner (which is still work in progress)
- I express my feelings i.e. “Mummy is really tired tonight and would appreciate if you could listen more and scream less. What would really be helpful is…” and often the response I get is “Yes sir!” (I mean ” à tes ordres!” or “oui mère”) which is pretty cool.
- I keep preparing easy tasty and healthy dishes like this dessert.
- we all sleep together. I can’t fall asleep in an empty bed and the little one still wakes up every night to come to our bed.
TIP: Hubby just ordered online groceries for the next day I return from my trip to Dubai with the kids as I managed to get 2 flat tyres on the day we left. It arrived at 9am right on time for breakfast!
What I fear the most?
What I fear the most is not exhaustion. It’s when the little one is sad or tired and cries for his Dad. That’s the most frustrating thing ever because there is nothing you can do and you feel all your efforts so far are not recognised. Thank god, it hasn’t happened more than once. As my youngest son grows older he can perfectly express what’s bothering him. In fact he expresses everything, he doesn’t stop chatting. So that allows me to pinpoint what it is that he really needs or want. The tantrums here are mainly due to exhaustion so I make sure they are in bed by 8.30pm with the whole routine leading to it nicely.
How do the kids react?
One night, little bro had 39 degrees fever, he was crying over dinner, I could feel he was unwell so I took him to bed. In the meantime big bro finished his dinner, cleared up the table and came to see me saying: “Mummy, I did the best I could clearing all what was on the table. I remembered that Dad said that when he’s not home, I’m the man in the house so I have to help you”. I have told the story half a dozen times and can’t help have teary eyes again as I write this.
Also they know that the rules are different (stricter) with me than with Daddy. I don’t allow to watch Pokemon or shows I don’t find very educational. Call me old fashioned, I love Curious George. And when I play it, after 3 minutes of “it’s for babies” complaints, they get into eat and laugh and learn new stuff.
As a result they don’t wake up before us to watch TV or play on the tablet in the morning. They wake up after me because I’ve set the alarm clock and shower and start making noises and opening the shutters. And after we wake up we clear the dishwasher together and the whole morning routine begins. So on a busy day with after school activities I often managed to get an Epic Win: a day without screens (for the kids of course).
Little bro also knows Mummy does not carry him on her shoulders like Daddy does when he says “I’m tired, I can’t walk”. He’s been incredibly brave and walked a lot during our outings ans especially in Dubai in the evening when he had had a full day of fun including sun, swimming and no nap!
Sometimes they joke that it would be so much fun to have two Daddies so they could let them watch double the amount of Pokemon, do double the amount of wrestling and fighting etc…I don’t know why, instead of getting upset and jealous I found it very amusing. I totally stand behind my choices and rules knowing I’m not even half of a Tiger Mum (thanks Amy Chua for clearing out all guilt around being hard and harsh with kids)
My biggest fail so far…
Mega late ont he first day at school
As you might know, my husband is also a geek so we use the alarm clock function of our Internet Radio. His first week at work was the first week after Day light saving time change. For some reason the clock did not change the time so when I woke at what I though was 7am, I was quite proud that all had gone very smoothly: waking up the ids, breakfast, cleaning up, getting dressed, preparing back packs etc… Only by the time I arrived near school I though it was really quiet, checked my phone which showed 9am!!! We had missed the little bro’s shuttle bus soI had to drive him down to his school and get big bro who was taking his time on the way to school to rush. I felt like a bad mum!
The longest he’s been away so far is 2 weeks. After the first week I had so much to do with work and preparing for the holidays i.e. packing for the kids and myself to go to Paris (cold weather) then Dubai (hot weather and swimming) all under 23 kg. I was so tired that on the day before we left I dropped my phone and shattered screen and on the day we left I destroyed 2 tyres by bumping on the pavement. Exhaustion does lead to accidents. Thank god the second week was spent partly at my parents who were mega helpful and then we all went, children and grand parents to Dubai for a relaxing and reenergising trip!
How about you?
Would love to know how you guys cope when your partner is not around to help out around the house and the kids, especially when you don’t have family around. Do your children also behave differently?
How to Single Mums do?
11 thoughts on “How I’m coping with the kids when my husband is away”
I love the way you involve the kids in the daily chores. And I am very touched by the nice words of the big bro about the fact that he is the man of the house when daddy is away!
Well, when it happens to me, I set up the alarm clock very early in the morning, so I have plenty of time to prepare myself, organise the breakfast and make sure everything will go smoothly with no stress or no need to shout hurry up every 2 minutes!
Like you do, after pick up time in the afternoon, I would express my feeling to get some more support from my kids. And every time we had a good day I would tell them how nice it feels to spend happy moments together, that I am so proud of them and it makes me feel so good. Once they will start again to act fussy, I will remind them how nice it is when we have good time together, to encourage them to behave nicely.
Of course it is hard and there are difficult times too. My key approach is to mentally anticipate before my hubby is gone. I prepare myself and I mentally acknowledge that it’s going to be hard but it’s going to be alright. I encourage myself to take some distance any time something which normally upsets me happens, and I coach myself to be more patient during this specific time. It really helps a lot.
You’re right. It all goes smoothly when you are not pressed for time. The kids enjoy that too. Same, sometimes I’d rather wash my hair and dry it the night before and I rock up to school with no make up then get ready later after drop off, that’s only if I go and meet people that day.
Same, I follow your example and show appreciation for small specific things like : “I’m very proud you got dressed all by yourself this morning” or “I like that you don’t chuck tantrums anymore. You’re a big boy now”.
Kudos to you, TL. I have so much admiration for people who parent solo, either full time or part time. It’s a hard job when you don’t have that physical support. When my husband is away, I try and get uber organised – meals prepped in advance and on a meal plan, washing done and put away, etc. Which just leaves time for the fun and the necessary!!
Sounds like a great plan Sian. So do you freeze your meals?
Yes – I usually have bolognese and different stews (like cacciatore, or spanish chicken stew) in the freezer. And a couple of batches of soup. Georgie loves chicken so often I will buy her a rotisserie chicken and she’ll have that with pasta and veggies. Quick and easy meal prep takes one big stress out of the day for me and makes everything a tiny bit easier.
As a single dad every other week, I also have to give more responsibility to my daughter(6).
She can prepare all by herself her breakfast (heat the milk and prepare the toasts).
Instead of watching TV she is reading books (bibliothèque ros). As for you there are more rules but in return I am spending more time with her whenever I can. So far it’s working fine 🙂
Awesome Pascal, well done!
Bravo TL, I love the way you write, and I admire your energy! Keep it up, both the writing and the grit!
You experienced that situation a lot too didn’t you! Thanks for your kind words. That’s what keep me going!
Hello! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the great work!