Mom, dad, kids and perhaps a dog, cat or other pet. Picture of a perfect, ideal family, we know from TV ads. Ideally both working and both working in the same city. This is, however, ever increasingly just a wishful thinking for many families. The main reasons are money and lack of employment opportunities in smaller cities.
When desperate times call for desperate measures, families don’t have other way around but to split up for longer periods of time just to be able to survive and pay all the essential bills, fill their stomachs and keep roof over their heads. But what effect does this have on the relationships, marriage and kids, when they see mom or dad only once a week or once a fortnight for a few days?
When there’s no other way
This is a different and hard situation right from the start of it. It is ever more common that mom role is no longer just a mom role but a fathers one too. Or the other way around of course. Because the father or the mother has to go out of town or out to a different country work make a living.
This can be good for the family’s financial situation but bad for the family’s relationships. And the worst for children as they probably suffer the most, not seeing their mom or dad on a daily basis but only once a week/ fortnight or a while.
That puts the pressure of all household/ family issues to the woman or the man, depending on which one of the parents has to work away from home. From looking after the children to all of the household duties, cooking, cleaning, shopping and paying all the bills.
It all naturally leads to tiredness and kids not having a strong bond with one of their parents or the other way around, having a very strong bond and once they leave for work elsewhere, they cannot cope and can become withdrawn and lonesome.
Make it work (long term)
- Talk – a lot and as often as possible. Talk before this situation happens & throughout its duration. Talk about all the issues and how you will be able to handle them, listen to each other’s concerns and concerns of the kids, talk about how you will handle them. Talk openly with your kids and explain the situation to them in detail and why it needs to happen. Use the technology to your best advantage. Skypes, video calls, telephone calls, live chats and facetime. All here to help. And make sure you have nothing to pull your attention away during these sessions. They are vitally important for both a healthy marriage and a parenting relationship.
- Make yourself and the kids occupied when the other half is away- Do fun stuff on the weekends and in your free time. Plant flowers in the garden, bake a cake, study together, read books, go for a bike ride, do some crafts. Whatever you can think off that will make you forget to look at the clock or your phone every other minute and make you feel lonely and sad. Make sure to fill time with your kids with a lot of laughter.
- Plan interesting activities when both parents are back at home- that means no chores, no typical household duties but fun trips, beach days, hikes in the nature, theme parks, visit to the grandparents. Anything as long as it’s together as a family.
- Make sure your home routine is not too strict- flexibility must become your second name when your partner is away. Don’t feel bad if you don’t happen to have a home cooked meal each day, perfectly cleaned house or a fridge full of healthy foods. Be ready to adapt to a changed situation quickly and make sure your kids know it too. Talk about it with them. Talk about it with your partner as well and when you are together back at home again, go back to what you are used to living as a family.
- Make your partner feel “needed”- partner working away may need to go through a lot of adjusting. Not being able to spend time with their partner and kids daily does not stay without its consequences for long. That is why the other one needs to make sure he or she feels very much needed. Leave some duties for them such as doing the homework with the kids, looking after the garden or going grocery shopping and taking the kids along. This way they will still feel a valuable part of the family, both as a significant other and a parent.
And lastly, let us finish with one very true, although funny saying: “Be Nice To Your Kids, They’ll Choose Your Nursing Home.”