Many people ask me, with small kids when husband works away how did I manage? Sounds interesting, sounds
challenging, sounds difficult but when husband works away, it is important to know what to do. I can´t believe it, this week is the last week of school and it will be summer vacation. I survived, we survived to have the set up of husband works away for the whole school year.
This school year, we were given the option of being far from each other. We are always a very close family, I only had one experience when I had to be away for a work trip. I am away only for a night from my family, that was an experience of a lifetime for me. I couldn’t sleep well actually that night. Before that, I was offered to have an international work trip for a week which I politely declined, thanks to my boss who accepted my decision. I mean, I had that time just a two years old youngest child.
So I can understand when my husband was hesitant to accept the offer for him to work almost 600 km away from us. That means we will not see him every day but just once to twice a month. Not only that, we have four kids and the youngest was just two months old. Luckily he managed to make his schedule organized that he only works four days a week so he can drive home for the weekend.
Still, the question is, how I managed with kids when husband works away? It was challenging to think I know, but in a way, it went so naturally and easily.
Have daily routine
I don’t mean that I did a very strict schedule every day in specific hours of the day. I mean that there is a proper routine of what we will do for the day. To make sure I have time with all the kids. That includes once to twice outdoor activity with the younger ones while the elder kids are in the school. It is a challenge because there are longer winter months in here but still I enjoy being outside in winter time when I don’t have to worry about the mud on kids clothes. They sleep better too when they play more outside. When bigger kids arrive from school, I need to give them individual time too.
Plan the menu
We go to groceries during weekends for the whole week consumption so the menu has been planned. It saves money too if the menu is already planned beforehand. I also cook only once a day which is in the evening. That saves me time to prepare lunch the other day especially if we have been outside. We just have to come inside and eat.
Talking to Other Moms
I am a person who can’t survive without talking to anyone and not making friends. If I am not like that, I don’t think I would even survive to live in a foreign land, in a city without any relatives. So I talk to my friends and relatives through social media chat but that is not enough. I need interaction with other mothers. I am happy that when I got my second child, I found two family clubs. One is the family club or the perhekerho in local language which is organized by the local church. Parents and family daycares gather together. There are singing, storytelling, arts&crafts making and the free time playing for the kids. The other one is the family coffee club or perhekahvila organized by the MLL(League for the child welfare). Both groups are for parents or mostly mothers with kids gathering and having a coffee together while kids are playing with each other. I really like this group because my kid’s playmate became their classmates too in school. So basically they have been friends already before going to school.
Friends are Heaven sent
Both of our relatives live in other cities where we live so we don’t see them as often as before. During this time, we need some extra help and that’s when we get more help from people we call friends. My daughters have different hobbies and sometimes I can´t drive them to or pick them up from their hobby place. Friends are very helpful and happily doing that for us.
Extra Help at Home
In this city, if there is a child in the family under 2 years old, there is a possibility to get free extra help at home for 10x and the possibility to continue for more. I never used those for my three children but now that situation asks for it when husband works away, having four kids with an infant and a toddler, I definitely need to have it. This is needed especially if there is an appointment that I only need to bring one child, like a dentist appointment or doctors appointment. It is a great help to have someone who looks after the rest of the children at home. I also use this to have free time for myself or have time with my daughters too. My time is mostly occupied by my little two sons so having girl time is important too.
This is VERY VERY IMPORTANT! I don’t think I would have survived to be the only parent for my children during weekdays if I don’t have alone time. I mean, imagine how demanding it is to take care of them alone if I don’t take care of myself too. This alone time can be a simple quiet time for me resting when younger kids are both having day nap, a simple time for me to read a book in the evening before going to bed, alone time to walk outside, alone shopping or visiting the library.
My exercise is pretty much just the walking minimum of half an hour a day. That is why I like walking outside even it is winter because we all benefit from it. I get my exercise too.
My daughters are great!
My daughters are like a little mommy as I call them especially the eldest. She is like me who doesn’t like a mess and she takes control of it even I don’t tell her. Sometimes I am putting the boys to sleep for a day nap and I can hear the girls giggling and talking. When I go out of the room, the house is tidy, the toys are all in the proper place. They also like to clean and arrange the kitchen and the cabinets. It happens sometimes, I am confused where is the stuff because it has been reorganized but I don’t complain about that. They also like to play with their little brothers while I am cooking for example.
Having a positive attitude
We need to think always in a positive way. This is just a temporary situation. Being separated into two different city makes the possibility to have one city as the vacation place. That’s what we did! We were there during his first week of work and we also spend there our winter holiday. Having the winter holiday in Lapland can be very expensive but having a sure place there makes it cheaper. Also having him living there makes it easier for us to have the tour guide, as he knows the place better than if he is just there for a holiday too. We also met new friends there.
I am happy this week is the last week before summer vacation. Time flies so fast. With all the mentioned above, I managed to be with my kids alone in weekdays but more importantly, we did great teamwork. Modern technology also makes it easier. We talk and video chat almost every day when we are not together so that kids can talk and see their dad even when husband works away.
Hope you enjoy reading this blog post!