We all have husbands with different schedules. Some are home weekends, most are home during the week, and some are gone for weeks at a time. But one thing we all have in common is taking care of the kids – alone – for extended periods.
And we all know that kids are different, and some handle Dad’s schedule better than others. Here are a few ways to keep your kids distracted from dwelling on the fact that he’s gone.
Fill Your Tank
I am putting this first because it is the most important thing you can do. You cannot effectively do any of the following if you don’t do this first. You must take care of yourself if you want to be fully present for your kids. I know it’s hard, I get it. We are constantly pulled in all different directions, wear a million different hats, and have all sorts of responsibilities. But your happiest self comes from your cared-for self, so do your family a favor and find what recharges you and what gives you joy, and make it a priority. Fill your tank!
Lord knows I have my moments of missing my husband, so why should it be different for my kids? If my son starts asking when Daddy is coming home or gets a little clingier than normal, I know it’s because he’s missing him. So I acknowledge those feelings instead of brushing them off, because it’s important that he feels heard. “Are you sad that Dad is gone? I understand. It’s okay to be sad about it. Should we call him later before bed?” He usually nods, and we’re good to go. Then we move on to something else. (Unless he really needs to talk about something, but usually just getting that out in the open is a huge help.)
Do Things Without Dad
I refuse to schedule everything around my husband. I would go crazy if I did – his schedule is so unpredictable that it would be impossible anyway. I want to show my kids that we can do things without Dad and still have fun! There’s no reason to mope around the house when we could be having adventures instead. The best part is that it gives my son something exciting to tell Daddy when he talks to him next. Family time is always the most important, but strengthening the bond with our kids one-on-one is something not every mom has a chance to do, and I think it’s great.
Give Them Something To Look Forward To
It’s much easier to manage feeling sad when you know there’s an end in sight. I have a calendar that my son uses to count the days until Daddy gets home, but now he’ll randomly announce, “Daddy comes home in just 2 more days!” We usually plan to do at least one thing together when he gets home, so I’ll also add, “And then we get to go to the park/go on a bike ride/go out to lunch all together!” When kids have something to look forward to, they don’t dwell on the fact that Dad is gone, but that he’s coming back.
Show Them How It’s Done
How I handle my husband being gone absolutely rubs off on my kids. I know they are constantly watching what I do, and I want to be a good example. So when I miss my husband I talk about it, because I want my kids to know it’s good to talk about how we feel. I also try to show them that the world doesn’t end just because he’s gone. Not only does it go on, but we are allowed to enjoy ourselves as well.
Make Your Time Special
Like I said before, being able to bond with our kids one-on-one is something that not all parents get to do. Sure, I complain about being a part-time single parent, it’s crazy hard sometimes! But there’s a positive side to everything, in my opinion. I’m not saying that every day has to be a holiday, or that you have to kill yourself trying to be a Pinterest supermom. But little things can have the biggest effect.
Sometimes I’ll do silly things like make breakfast for dinner, or have a picnic with my kids in the living room, or take them out to eat on a weekday (a rare treat). You have no idea how much kids appreciate mommy time. They will remember it long afterwards, and when their little tanks are full, they feel good about themselves and the world around them.
How do you distract your kids while your husband is gone? Let me know in the comments below!
The Flight Wife