sisterhood of the traveling husbands: focus on the positive

Recently my husband has traveled almost every week, leaving me at home with three kids by myself. Now that he’s home for a spell, I’m quickly appreciating how much easier it is to have two parents around! He doesn’t travel all the time, but it goes in spurts.

People are constantly asking me how I deal with it when he travels. Sometimes, I ask
myself the very same thing. It is not easy.

Sometimes, it is just about surviving.  Like those weeks where something breaks, the kids are sick, you get sick, the house is a disaster, you’re out of milk and bread, there is a huge snowstorm and his flight is delayed again… Or when he casually mentions how he is just so tired of eating in fancy restaurants and he’ll probably just go to bed early in his fancy hotel room he gets all to himself; as the kids are screaming at you in the background for more scrambled eggs, which you are having for dinner again.  (Disclosure: Its usually not that bad.. but we’ve certainly been there!) It can be hard to remember that he’s working and not on vacation.

when he’s traveling – even on a normal, unexciting week – by the end of the week, I am exhausted, the house is a disaster and
patience had left the building. You might have guessed this by my twitter feed.

But, over time,  I’ve not only learned a few
little tricks, but I’ve learned to develop a good attitude about his traveling… and its made all the difference in the world. So this week, I’m sharing some of the tricks I’ve learned to cope to handling things on my own.

PART ONE: Focus on the positive

There are some positive things about Husband traveling. His traveling for work is how we are able to travel so much as a family, thanks to airline miles and hotel points. I don’t cook as much, after the kids go to bed I have time to myself, so I usually can get lots of work done, I can watch Twilight without anyone laughing at me… of course I’d rather Husband was around, but we’re thinking positive, right?  😉

His traveling has helped me to be more independent.  I have learned how to fix leaking sinks and broken toilets, how to restart the furnace, how to kill gigantic spiders all  by myself. I take care of all of our finances. (Math is not my thing: this is quite an accomplishment for me.) Think about it: on those weeks when he is only home for two or three days, why would I want to hand him a huge to-do list for those precious few days we have him here? He just wants to spend time with us and we just want to spend time with him! So when he is traveling, I do as much as I can before he gets home so when he’s home, we get quality time together.

My biggest challenge is that when you’re the only parent around, patience can wear thin very quickly. Homework, housework, bedtime, bathtime… and the worst, discipline… everything is up to you and only you. And its exhausting. With three young kids, I feel like all I am doing some days is saying “NO!” and “Stop that!” and I constantly feel like the bad guy. So I decided I needed some ways to keep things balanced and encourage them (and me!).

Sticker Charts: Each child gets a piece
of paper with their name on it and we hang them up on the wall of the
kitchen. They earn stickers by:

  • quick
  • being loving
  • doing chores
  • playing nicely
  • staying in bed all night (sometimes they get double stickers for this one 🙂

Its inexpensive – just a piece of paper and some cool stickers – and with young kids, its a great way for them to see how the week is going. At the end of the week when Daddy comes home, the kids are
thrilled to show him all of the stickers they earned! Occasionally when their charts are really full (or Mommy reallyneeds a break), Daddy will take them out for a hour or two on Saturday to ‘celebrate’ their sticker charts. Mommy likes this.

Kisses for Kindness: We have a jar on the counter filled with Hershey Kisses. When I catch one of them doing something extra loving
or unselfish, they get ‘kissed’ for being kind. The only rule is they
cannot tell me they did something – we have to catch them in the act.
Not that they don’t try. (“Mom, I gave Grace my favorite toy! Wasn’t
that so super kind of me?”) Its a great way to give immediate encouragement when kids are being loving and making good choices. Its been great! It has made the girls much more
aware of being kind and unselfish towards each other. And cuts down on the fighting. Because the fighting leads to yelling and no one likes the yelling.

Does your husband travel? What do you think are the positives about it?

About Melissa

Melissa is founder of Girlymama and co-founder of the mom fashion blog, All Things Chic. You can also find her designing blogs at Eliza Grace Design and on Twitter as Melissa Angert.


  1. 1
    Kellyn says:

    My husband used to travel a little (to Philly no less…) and it was always so interesting. I use some great things when he goes fishing for weekends though. We do one night of “kids pick their meals”. I take both kids (or just Boo depending) to the grocery store and they pick out their favorite thing and get to have it for dinner. Boo usually gets Mac and Cheese in cool shapes or a Kids Cuisine (woohoo Healthy) and Hunter wants steak. It is a great “reward” and can usually lead to a great weekend.

  2. 2
    april says:

    I SO appreciated your post today! My husband travels every week, so I completely understand EVERYTHING you said. He’s gone from very early Monday morning to Wednesday early evening each week. Like you said, I enjoy the freedom of doing/watching whatever I want after the kids are in bed. I love eating whatever for dinner…but I hate going to bed without him, having no adult conversation, and just feeling lonely. You are not alone!

  3. 3
    Liz says:

    Thanks for the great ideas for the sticker chart. last week we did a jar with 10 pennies and they would lose one for bad behavior But i like the idea of focusing on the postive. Going to give it a try : ) My husband does fires a lot in the summer usually we stay with family when he is gone but sometimes I am home and it is hard!! Hang in there Asking God to lay on my heart when i need to pray for you : )

  4. 4
    Megan says:

    Thanks for the great ideas. Although my husband does not travel, he is in school 3 to 4 nights per week and comes home long after A is in bed. I can use some of these tips as A gets older… Although, instead of airline miles and hotel points, we get a tuition bill…

  5. 5

    thats a great idea! i let the kids pick meals sometimes when hes gone — their favorite are these (totally gross) frozen pizzas from the store that cost around $1. they gross me out, but the kids are so super excited 😉

  6. 6

    i totally agree, april. the no adult conversation is a killer – especially on a long trip. sometimes i let the kids read books at the dinner table just because im tired of making conversation with them. (isnt that terrible?) i love being alone for about one evening… then im lonely and want him to come home!

  7. 7

    youre so sweet, liz! i have found that focusing on the positive behavior is a lot more encouraging – both to us and the kiddos. (not that we dont have to deal with bad behavior as well, but its not as much fun 😉  i hate feeling like all i do is correct them all day long. of course, they probably feel the same way!!

  8. 8

    Oh, my gosh! My husband recently returned from a 100 day deployment, and his work schedule generally requires him to leave before the kids are up and home after they are in bed…so I feel like he’s gone all the time. He told me once that my only requirement is to keep everyone alive, and I mutter that to myself on some of “those” days. I also tend to put up a list on the frig of things that are great–like my child hugging me after preschool and saying “I missed you” or how funny another child can be, or on a tough day, just reading a reminder of something as simple as that we are all healthy can turn my attitude around. I love your “kisses” idea!

  9. 9

    I think you are Wonder Woman. That is all.

  10. 10
    Susan T. says:

    I think it’s great you’re doing this now. My husband is away for the first time in close to a year. It’s a long week for me and the kids.
    One of my positives is trying to fix myself or pick up a dinner that my husband isn’t fond of. It’s a treat to have one of my favorites, and the kids are just as happy with their chicken nuggets.

  11. 11
    Joey Fortman says:

    You rock, Melissa! I learned so much from this post. What great ideas!!!!!

  12. 12
    Stephanie says:

    Kisses for Kindness. Such a wonderful idea. And there are so many different “kinds” of kisses these days – have you tried the dark chocolate ones?