Sometimes, a father works from home or in close proximity to where he lives. He’s near the family, can easily offer a helping hand or come home for lunch, and enjoys the freedom of a flexible schedule.
Other fathers hold regular hours at a different location, maybe working weekends or various shifts. In our country’s current reality, there must be dads searching for work as well, willing to take the next opportunity, whatever it may be.
Our family best understands the life of a father who travels. Serving in our church and in educational settings, the Dad in our home works away some days, far away at times. I can imagine other families facing the same life situation.
How do we foster family togetherness even with one of us away?
Mama’s Attitude Sets the Tone
There’s no way around it I’ve found — the kids will imitate and reflect Mom’s position on the matter. As wives, supporting our husband’s work in front of our children is tremendously important. When I display an appreciation for my husband’s work, our children’s view of Daddy’s travel is affected positively. A win-win for everyone!
Cover Dad in Prayer
Encourage the children to pray for various aspects of Dad’s trip. The plane, train or automobile’s safety and for details of the work he’s actually doing. Keeping the explanations simple will engage even the littlest ones and help them to understand that Dad is at work, not just away.
Plan for Before and After
Make extra room for intentional family time and couple time before if there’s fair warning to plan. If not, schedule special time when Dad returns. We practice both in our home, sandwiching my husband’s trips with extra focus on just our family relationships.
Simple ideas are helpful here — dinner together, a game night, or snuggles and books on the couch — whatever feels significant to your family.
For the marriage, enjoy quiet conversation or a special dessert together after the children are in bed. The idea is to intentionally connect, not to stress.
Stay In Touch
In our world of technology, keeping family communication open is much easier. If phone calls (especially in different time zones!) are difficult, send emails of encouragement or family life tidbits his way. Even the prayers could be sent as an email. My husband has commented often how uplifting it’s been to read thoughts from us in the midst of work-related communication. Try Skype or other face-to-face avenues if possible — use the options that work for that trip and your family’s way of relating.
Another way is to send with Dad a small item to remember the children by — a favorite book, pictures or blanket, maybe a stuffed animal? A special pillowcase was a favorite of ours for a while since it’s easy to pack. Somehow, it was comforting for our children to know Dad had a piece of home with him.
Build Anticipation for Dad’s Return
We’ve used a ‘treasure box’ that traveled back and forth with my husband: a small shoebox that Daddy filled with ‘treasures’ from his trip to bring back home. It’s amazing how thrilled children are by simple gifts! Hotel room soap or lotion, a postcard from the area, or maybe a small gift purchased is sufficient. The countdown to Dad coming home becomes exciting!
While a spouse who travels for work may not be ideal, remember that any position our husbands hold will have drawbacks and perks…there is no perfect situation. Search for and focus on the positive, and build a close-knit family right in the middle of it all.
Grace in the journey!
Daniele is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mama of five–a woman on a journey towards intentional living. She celebrates family, gathers up grace, and nurtures the spirit over at Domestic Serenity. You’re welcome to visit!