This past Saturday was the first game of the 2015-16 season for Tennessee football.
The beginning of football season is bittersweet for me. I love the tradition and spirit of college football, the tailgating, the rivalries…and of course, the bands (Proud Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band alum here).
On the other hand…there’s the little issue of Keith working for the university athletic ticket office. I don’t think most people realize a ticket manager’s job during football season entails working longer hours during the week, being on your feet all day Saturday for home games and also some away games, which of course involves travel.
Then for Keith, before football season ends, basketball season starts. During the regular season, there are weeknight home games, occasional travel and then it ramps up for the postseason when he could be gone for weeks until the team loses.
So there are many stretches throughout the year when Keith just can’t be around and as helpful around the house as he is during other times.
I would suppose that many families have a similar situation. There are certain seasons throughout the year that calls one partner to be away from home more and leaves the other partner at home, shouldering more of the weight for the time being.
After 10 years of essentially saying “See You in a Few Months!” to Keith, I feel like I’ve finally gotten a hang of getting through it with minimal battle scars and tears.
Here are my tips for surviving in the midst of your husband’s busy seasons when he is away from home more.
Pick Your Priorities
Does a cluttered kitchen make your blood pressure soar? Do you get twitchy at the sight of unfolded laundry? Choose one or two things that to you are vital to be done for you to feel at ease. Make sure those things are done and if time allows, you can move on to more.
It may be tempting but don’t get too ambitious. Be realistic about what you will be able to accomplish. The key here is to do enough that you won’t be drowning but won’t always feel that you’re falling far behind.
Give Yourself Some Grace
From the very beginning, accept that you will not be able to accomplish everything. Some things will just have to wait or be left undone. It will be okay. This is temporary.
Enlist and Accept help
You are human. That means you only have two hands. Those two hands will be full before you know it so it is worth it to be willing to share the load a little. Swap childcare with another family. Hire a cleaning service. Look into grocery delivery.
Don’t forget the little people in the house who make the messes and eat the food. They are typically more capable than we give them credit for and can take on a little more responsibility around the house. I like this age-appropriate chore chart that gives you an idea of what is reasonable to expect.
Don’t Neglect Self-Care
It is easy to fill your day with the seemingly endless list of chores and responsibilities of kids, home, work and who knows what else. And it is way too easy to convince yourself that spending time on yourself is time wasted. However, burning the candle at both ends will just result in quicker burnout. Take care of yourself in whatever way you can. It may not be spa days or weekends away. You may have to fit it in small chunks here and there but everyone needs time to recharge their batteries.
I will be the first to admit this is a struggle for me. I just ordered the book “The Fringe Hours” by Jessica Turner which centers around finding time for yourself in those little pockets of the day.
Take Advantage of the Times He Is Home
He’s gotta come home sometime, right? So when he does, make the most of it. Hit the grocery store alone. Take a nice, long, warm bath. Catch up on anything you can.
Also, take advantage of that time to reconnect with him. I’m willing to bet he’d rather be home with you and your family just as much as you want him to be home. Be honest about your struggles and frustrations but also make an effort to make coming home a safe place for him. Set aside time to sit down, make eye contact and talk. Preferably not about kids, chores, schedules, etc but something’s better than nothing. Kiss and hug and touch and….maybe other stuff…whatever…..
The biggest piece of advice I can give you for these periods is breathe. Do what you can and forgive the rest.
Do you have experience with a spouse or partner who has busy seasons that call them to be away from home more? What tips can you give to others that helps you survive or THRIVE during these times?