Tips For Parenting and Homeschooling When A Spouse Travels

I meet many homeschooling parents whose spouses travel extensively for a job.  We have been in that position in our family as well.  Every family and every travel schedule is different, but our situation was that for three years my husband traveled every week Monday through late Thursday night and then worked in town on Fridays.  This schedule has lessened over the last two years, so I am glad, but over the way it certainly shaped the way I parented and homeschooled to an extent.  I wanted to share some things that helped me survive the travel beat.

  • Do not schedule any extra-curricular activities for children without taking into full account the drive time, the other children in the family and their needs, how late activities might go, and if the activities would increase around the time of a game/match/meet/performance or what would happen if practices, meets or games run late.   Time outside the home can be very draining if a spouse travels, so being sensitive to that ahead of time saves a lot of disappointment on all ends.
  • Figure out what shopping/errands can be handled in person with all the children, and what shopping really needs to be done on-line.  Streamline as much as possible!
  • Employ help if possible.  I have tried to find mother’s helpers and babysitters without any luck whatsoever, but I do have several friends with traveling spouses that have wonderful helpers.
  • Figure out when you will be able to exercise, and also when you could  have hair/dental/health care provider appointments.  Schedule it in.  Again, this is much easier if you have help.  See if friends can help in any way.  A neglected mother is never fun for the family or for future health.
  • Understand traveling is a big adjustment.  It can be hard when spouses leave, and sometimes the re-entry can be hard as well.  Put in  extra, undisturbed family time as a buffer so that this time going and coming back is as peaceful as possible.
  • Figure out when you and your spouse can be together.  If you can only be together 24 or 48 hours out of a week, will there be any time for the two of you alone at any point?  That can help a lot, because whilst often there many times needs to be discussion on finances or different things going on in family life, there also needs to be time to just *be* together.
  • Have a rhythm to your home.  Some mothers tell me it is easy to start getting slack on housekeeping chores or even cooking when their spouses travel. Having a rhythm to homekeeping tasks can be very grounding.
  • Have early bedtimes.  I  know not all will agree with me, but when you have to be “on” all the time, having some time to oneself for rejuvenation is important.

If you have a traveling spouse, I would love to hear your best tips for keeping life calm!


6 thoughts on “Tips For Parenting and Homeschooling When A Spouse Travels

  1. Thanks, Carrie. Very timely. My husband doesn’t travel but we are planning on his starting an Executive MBA program in the new year….Friday evenings and Saturday all day for 25 months and an hour commute one way. So, the life for our little family and our son, who adores his father and doesn’t get enough time with him already, will certainly change. Thanks for the tips and I’m looking forward to hearing more.

    • Mary Lynn,
      we went through that as well when my husband did his Master’s..but we didn’t have children at the time, I was pregnant toward the end of it. Master’s programs that are compressed like that are very demanding, because it isn’t just the class time but the study/preparation/project time. So I would sit down with your husband and come up with as much as a schedule as you can regarding errands, shopping, when will you have some time to yourself, time as a family, and time as a couple. I have several friends with husbands in programs right now and they are up early studying or getting ready for work, and studying and doing projects at night after work. It is demanding on the whole family, but it is a relatively short time and you can make it through with some thought and care.

    • Good idea. It will be better to figure out a schedule ahead of time. We tend to see how things go then I get huffy when I feel I am doing it all….PLANNING…that’s the key :0)

  2. As a bit of color commentary, don’t underestimate the amount of time that the Exec MBA will take. While my classes were all day Friday/Saturday every other week, the out of class time was at least as significant as the in-class time. There was something to do every day whether it was studying or working with my team. That being said, the key to making the best of it is finding the right balance. Planning out study time (for him), play time and who will be doing what is one of the smartest things you can do.
    In the end, it will be difficult, but it will also be worth it!

  3. Meals are the most challenging for me and required some problem solving. To make my week smoother when my husband is gone, we make and freeze meals together to prepare. This enables me to rest with the baby while my older children play. This essential rest period has made evenings and bedtime more enjoyable.

    • Mehgan,
      Yes I forgot those and those are definitely essential areas! I have always found a crock pot helpful as well.

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