The Distance Between: Tips for Those Who Work Afar
By Mona Ismaeil
The Canadian economy has taken a great hit this past year. There isn’t a single Canadian home that hasn’t felt the pain. Many people have lost their jobs, stay-at-home moms have been forced back to work and for some homes like my own it means one parent travels for work.
This unnatural living situation is not ideal and it can take a toll on the whole family. It takes a great deal of sacrifice from everyone but there are many ways to make this hopefully temporary set-up a little easier. Remember the time spent apart, the time differences, or the distances between, the same rules apply.
Remember you are still a couple. You still need to connect anyway you can. A simple “Good Morning” or a check-in mid-day can make the world of a difference for both people. For the one travelling, it lets them know they are not forgotten and for the parent at home, it lets them know they are still supported and appreciated. Also, be sure to talk as often as possible. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, just a quick check in is all you need. Remember to say “I love you” as much as possible! Be sure to still keep the travelling parent in the know about day to day happenings. This could include things like telling them about a lunch date you had with a friend, or how you found a good deal for cable. Also, give them time to tell you about work, or an experience they’ve had while away. My husband and I know pretty much everything about each other’s day. We share almost every detail and for some that may be a little much but for us, it’s what keeps us connected. It’s like we’re never apart.
It is vital for the family dynamics to keep the travelling parent as much a part of the home life as possible. This means sharing with them everything big and small, good and bad that takes place at home. It is important to give the travelling parent an opportunity to give your children praise for the positive things and to discipline at the same time. For example, when my daughter is exceptionally well-behaved or she learns something new, I make a point of telling my husband so that he can praise her and tell her how proud he is of her. At the same time, if she has had poor behaviour, I also tell him and he talks to her about it. That way she knows Daddy is still as much a part of the family as Mommy. I take tons of pictures of the kids doing different things and share them with my husband. Playing, eating, bathing, laughing, crying, everything! My daughter even asks me to take pictures to send to Daddy so he can see her painting or so he can see her outfit that day. I find this helps when our daughter talks to him and tells him about something she did he can respond in a way where he knows what she is talking about. She loves this! They can have a conversation and he doesn’t feel lost and she feels like he’s a part of it all.
It’s important for any well-oiled machine to run smoothly, that there be a system in place. For a family, routine is that system. As one parent leaves, the other parent is left to hold down the fort and naturally must find their own way to make it work on their own. That means that they adapt by finding their own routine. This may include meals, bed time routines, and routines for weekends vs. weekdays. When the travelling parent comes home, it can disrupt the routine you have put in place and that is ok… to an extent. Although it’s exciting when Mommy or Daddy come home and children are hesitant to sleep early because they want to tell stories and play games it is important to keep with the previously established routines as much as possible. If you allow it lax too much, you will undoubtedly suffer to get it back in order later on. Starting over again is just not fun!
Open, honest communication is very important in any marriage but it is even more important when there are factors which can make that difficult. No matter the time difference, the distance between you or how long you are apart (a day or a month), it is essential to keep communication strong. Ensure you have the tools to be in touch. We are living in a very technologically advanced world and this should be taken advantage of! A call to check in, a text message with a picture or an hour long video chat, these will all help the communication and connection strong. Some tools we have used are:
- Facebook Chat
- Facebook Voice Call
If your spouse travels, what do you do to make it a little easier?
About the Author:
Mona Ismaeil is the Associate Editor Muslimmoms.ca. She is also an elementary teacher turned blogger and writer. Mona is the proud owner of Modern Hejab and stay-at-home mom to a sweet little girl. She loves to travel and see all the world has to offer with her family.