R used to work away from home loads – when I worked in a hotel before we had Oliver we were like ships that passed in the night and even then we often didn’t actually pass! I got used to him being away and it was fine because I was working silly hours and it was only me to look after. I ate cereal or beans on toast for my dinner and it didn’t matter. I lazed in bed when I felt like it and did the house work at a leisurely pace, went to the pub for lunch with my friends and generally bummed around not doing much.
He gave up working away in the latter stage of my pregnancy – probably for fear of testical removal – and has only recently started working away again now that Oliver is a bit bigger, we live closer to his parents (babysitters) and I’m more able to cope by myself, especially now that Oliver isn’t breastfeeding. However the biggest problem is now that because Oliver is so big, he misses his Daddy terribly. We have been working on verbalising emotions for a while and he will now tell me that he’s sad because Daddy isn’t here. It’s often at bed time, but it can be while we are in the park (keeping him busy works until we sit down for a snack).
So here are the things I’ve learned from having a partner that works away…
- Explain it clearly to the child, even if you think they don’t understand, because chances are they do but don’t know how to verbalise it.
- Be patient – Oliver’s behaviour is much more ‘testing’ when Daddy is away – it’s only recently he’s been able to tell me after he’s done something ‘naughty’ that he feels sad because Daddy isn’t here.
- Plan lots of fun things to do – check the weather forecast to plan some adventure walks when it’s nice and things like painting or baking when it is a bit miserable outside.
- Do something new. Be it a new park to play in or a new activity. A toy you’ve been saving in the back of your cupboard for when you *really* need it or a new craft. Distraction works!
- Let go of the housework, accept that your house might be a bit of a mess for a few days and be extra efficient during naps or when your little Angel is actually playing by themselves.
- Have extra cuddles. Don’t put them off, make time to really connect and just be there with your baby, I’ve found that Oliver needs a lot more love and physical contact when R is away. Sometimes we just snuggle under a blanket for an hour or so watching Netflix, Oliver strokes my hair and I snuggle in to him.
- Plan your meals – give yourself a break some nights and give in to the odd jar of pasta sauce. Do some batch cooking and portion up your meals in to freezeable containers. I’ve even planned take away when I know I’ll be reaching the point of no return.
- Grocery shop online. You can do it during nap time or after little one is in bed and get it delivered at a convenient time, meaning no grumpy, bored toddler in the supermarket trolley and sane parents at the end of the day.
- Stick to routine as much as possible. Keeping things consistent whether Daddy is home or not seems to really help Oliver – he still knows what to expect at certain times of day.
- Do things you normally wouldn’t – I hate cold, wet weather, but one day while R was away there was a huge downpour and our driveway was pretty much flooded, I put Oliver’s boots and coat on and made sure he was nice and warm and just let him run!! We were outside for ages, he was picking up huge clumps of mud and when we came in I had to empty his boots out. He had so much fun, and I really enjoyed watching him have that fun, but I definitely wouldn’t want to do that every time it rains! He was swiftly dunked in the bath followed by a dinner of pasta and sauce from a jar and some snuggles under a blanket with a hot chocolate.