How we make our time special when Dad is away from home.
Lately, we’ve experienced more travel time with Dad away from home.
We survived one deployment. I learned to cope by making some days extra special.
When I’m on my own with four kids to feed, homeschool, and taxi to various extracurricular activities most evenings, I sometimes have to be creative and just let some things go.
How We Play When Dad’s Away
We don’t really play and we don’t disrespect Dad by doing anything he wouldn’t approve of.
I try to spend as little money as possible. We maintain our healthy lifestyle as much as we can while still having some fun and being just a little bit lax.
I like to make meals fun and interesting.
We’ll have a picnic in the living room with music and poetry or breakfast for dinner.
We’ll do a movie night with snacks and mocktails.
I’m more lax on juice intake. We have more cookies and snacks in the house during these times. The kids also are learning to be more independent and cook or prepare things for themselves.
I like to make dishes my husband doesn’t like. So, basically lots of dishes with bell peppers.
Occasionally, we’ll eat out for a real treat. It’s getting harder and harder to dine out with four kids and still be healthy and frugal.
I have to relax at meal times since I have no second adult to help with four kids. I’m quick to accept dinner invitations when I’m the sole parent. It’s nice to share a meal with friends.
It’s no fun being home all day, every day.
We go to parks, movies, playgrounds, swimming – anything that Dad wouldn’t especially miss while he’s out of town. It’s getting easier now that the kids are a little older and I don’t have to constantly help or watch every single second.
If there’s a particular festival, I try to take the kids but that’s an awful lot of effort for me to take four kids by myself to a crowded fair. I usually end up feeling like a pack mule.
I make sure the kids have lots of attention and snuggle time. My teen gets to stay up later than the littles since I can give her more mama time.
We still have to keep the house running smoothly, but I don’t stress if the dishes or laundry doesn’t get completed every day.
Sometimes, the table won’t even get cleared after a meal until the next meal! And I just roll with it.
The kids step it up to help and they go above and beyond to do their share to make sure things run smoothly.
Honestly, it’s easier to complete chores when Dad is away. There is no change in schedule on the weekends. There is much less laundry and fewer dishes. Things run more smoothly. My way.
We do have mad cleaning sessions before Dad is due to arrive back home.
Thankfully, we don’t stress too much over lesson time since we school year-round and almost all day, every day. We have a lifestyle of learning.
I’ve become much more an unschooler and I love watching my kids become fascinated with a subject and do their own unbidden research.
We often start late, school in the evening before bed, take field trips, do lessons on weekends.
We’re more relaxed because I don’t have to plan for that couple hours in the evening for Daddy time. The dynamics are different.
We like to learn about where in the world Dad is traveling and what it’s like there – the time difference, the climate, culture, history, people, foods, etc.
How I Manage Stress
Sure, the kids are sometimes stressed when Dad is away. We read lots of books and go to the library to keep well-stocked. We make sure to visit the park and playground to let off steam. I assure them that Dad will home soon, most likely with souvenirs.
We often are able to keep in touch by chat online, sometimes with Facetime or Skype. We can view maps online or on our school room wall. I take lots of pictures so he doesn’t feel left out of events.
During deployments, we have a special clock on the wall for “Daddy time” so we knew what time it was where he was deployed.
Sometimes, I would like to be “off duty” but that’s even less possible when my husband is out of town.
I stay up late to get some alone time. I work online or watch Netflix or read. Sometimes, all of that at once, lol!
I send the kids to the playground a block away. I have a few friends in the neighborhood now where my kids can go play. It’s healthy and good to be apart sometimes.
During deployments or long TDYs, I get run down by the late nights and having no downtime.
- I drink lots of water.
- I take supplements and essential oils.
- I detox after poor eating with juice and smoothies.
- I make myself exercise and get fresh air outside.
- On the days when we have no out of the house activities, I rest as much as possible.
It’s still difficult when Dad is away, especially on the younger kids. My son often gets confused about where Dad is or when he’s coming home. I do everything I can to make it easier on our family.
We make homecoming special with favorite meals and rest time.