Thursday, September 23, 2010

When Hubby is Away - The Kids Will...Go Crazy?

So, once again I'm alone taking care of two toddlers. I know there's many women who do this as their husbands work in the oil field (living in Alberta this is very common) but my hubby doesn't and this isn't what I banked on when we married and decided to have children. What I did marry though is a husband who is ambitious, hardworking, and yes - a little OCD when it comes to letting work lie at 5pm and picking it back up at 8am.

Sadly, when certain months roll around I just know that I'll be a temporary single mom and September is usually the worst. Well, it used to be the worst but it's hard to pick the worst month now as with his new role he has to do budgeting, and staff reviews, and all sorts of other things that he didn't used to have to do. Last month I looked back at a calendar and we went over 2 weeks without having 1 meal together as a family, and that was in August which should be a slow month. This month Hubby is going 26 days without spending more than 1 hour at a time with the kids - yikes!

We do our best to make it through but the kids sure react to his absence. Lately they've taken to pushing their chairs over beside his empty one and say 'Sitting beside Daddy!' over and over again even though he's not there. It's sad! (I've attached a picture of what the table looks like when they do this)When they get upset they've also started yelling for Daddy and if they wake up in the middle of the night they yell for him. I've also notice that they act CRAZY when they finally realize that he's not just working late or left for work early but that he's actually on a trip and hasn't been sleeping at home. They act up more, they get more emotional, they fight more. It's hard to explain it unless you have witnessed the change yourself.

It's hard enough to be left home alone a lot but it's a heck of a lot harder to be home alone with two toddlers. Without the support of my family I would of had a mental break down LONG ago!

Here's a few of my practical tips on surviving with kids while the hubby is away:

1. Make sure he calls them every day - they live for a chance to reconnect with him, even if it's just for a moment. Also, if they start to miss him and get upset you can remind them about the conversation they had with him earlier.

2. Get the kids to make him a craft. He might come home to 20 sticker pictures, or paintings but it makes them feel sooo good to think of him and make something for him (I think Dads also really like knowing the kids were thinking of them the whole time)

3. Break the routine. Do something different with the kids that helps take their mind off the normal bedtime routine (usually when they realize the most that Daddy isn't there). I go to a book store and buy them each 1-2 new books. Then during the bedtime routine if they start to get upset I show them the new book and we read those. Or if they notice Daddy isn't there around dinner time I get them to switch chairs, or we have a picnic on the floor.

4. Have people over for a visit, anyone really! I find the more people in the house the more the kids don't realize it's missing the 1 person they want there the most. If we've gone a day or two without Daddy and they're starting to get upset I find it helpful to be able to tell them who they DO get to visit next. They remember this and usually talk about it all day :)

Let me know if you have any tips to help kids from missing their dad or mom when they're away. I could always use a few new tricks up my sleeve!


  1. Awww - that's a tough one to deal with. I haven't had to do the extended absence thing with my little girl, but the hubby does go to Kung Fu two-three times a week in the evening.
    On those evenings, he ends up missing her bedtime routine. She sometimes asks for him but I find being open and telling her that Daddy is at Kung Fu seems to appease her.

    Having a recent photo of him with them may help. IKEA has some great wood frames (4x6) with Plexiglas that we use for family photos for children at the daycare. Some children carry their photo around all day and others just seek out their photo when they're sad. Maybe you could do something like that? The frames are a plain pine. Perhaps as a special "while Daddy is away" activity, you could get your little ones to decorate their frames with markers?

  2. Good idea Jennifer, I think I have a few of those frames so we'll do that project next time we don't see him for a length of time :)

  3. Ohh! I almost wish I could say I feel your pain! My hubby's been away now and then since they were born, but usually no more than a week or so so I guess in that respect we're lucky. I get the more frequent absences, but he's usually around "just enough."

    When they were younger, I used to schedule visiting time with family, activities, playground time, anything - just to get through the day (more for me than for them!). I know it's a bit sad, but they've actually grown so accustomed to the messed up schedule that they rarely miss dad at bedtime and don't react much to him being gone a few days.

    The other day I actually said to my son "I miss daddy." He said "I don't" but continued with: "my heart is in daddy's belly, and his heart is in my belly, so we're always friends."
    So I'm hoping that their potential "indifference" is a good thing - that they're simply dealing with it in a good way. Perhaps things will get easier for you over time?

  4. So cute what D said about 'my heart is in daddy's bell, and his heart is in my belly, so we're always friends' SWEET!!!