Editor's note: This article was originally published on Leanne Jacobs' blog, Organize & Decorate Everything. It has been republished here with permission.
As most of you know, my husband is gone a lot (like 85 percent of the time). But this is not entirely unusual for a lot of families right now. For whatever reason your family is apart, there are things that can be done to keep you close and connected. This is not the first time we have been in this situation and there are a few things I have learned along the way to help our family stay close while we're apart.
1- Learn to do things for yourself but don't leave him out. I would do everything that needed to be done and wouldn't ask him to do anything when he was home. Wrong! He needs to feel needed and you need to not be stressed all the time with trying to accomplish everything yourself, so leave a few things on "the list" for him. Or work together on a project. I'm not promising there won't be any arguments but at least you're accomplishing something together (and that feels great).
2- With that being said, have normal housework completed so you have more time for each other and the family. Have all the laundry, basic cleaning, weeding, etc. done so the house looks good and you don't waste time on the basics when he is home. I always have a candle melting too, because for some reason it seems to hide if the house isn't perfect.
3- Make time alone. That has meant something different almost every time he's been home but we always make time for each other. We've taken time for full date nights, sometimes we've just taken in a movie, we've snuck away for frozen yogurt, we've gone grocery shopping and we've even had a few nights away.
4- Make time alone with each child. He needs to catch up with the kids too so give him time to do that. My kids go crazy when he comes home and if it's late at night they're up early in the morning just to see him. He makes them breakfast every Saturday morning while I sleep in and they talk and laugh and then wake me up. Some of the things the kids have done with their dad are: breakfast (McDonald's seems to be the favorite), lunch, working on a project together, run to get ice cream or Slurpees, bike rides, the park, camping, golf. It gives them time to talk about school, sports, friends, problems, etc.
5- Clean sheets, towels and pj's are a must. Also a favorite dinner and dessert one night. Since I'm not there to wash his sheets and towels I have no idea how often he does that, probably not as often as he should. If your hubby is staying in a hotel they get changed all the time so now he's used to it. Either way it's a nice, welcoming feeling to come home to. I always try to have one of his favorite meals or desserts ready for him too.
6- Talk, text, message, Facebook, email, and/or Instagram a few times a day, every day. Do anything you can to stay connected throughout the day.
7- The kids need to talk to him every day too even if it's just for a few minutes each or on speaker phone. They need to connect also and know that he is still available for them. If they can't wait to tell him something they leave a message or text him on his phone.
8- Go to him, if you can. We've gone to him a few times and are planning to go again sometime in July. I've gone by myself and with the kids. It gives him a reprieve from having to travel plus it gives us all a little mini vacation. We stay in a hotel, visit places he wouldn't normally go by himself, and spend all our time together. It's a great way to reconnect.
9- Still involve him in decisions with the kids and household. Sometimes it's easier to take care of things yourself but that doesn't mean it's always better. Remember you're a team and need to parent together even if you're miles away. Discuss what activities the kids will be involved in, what discipline will be taken if needed, what household purchases will be made, etc.
10- Have a call every night before bedtime with the whole family, whether it be FaceTime or just a phone call. Read scriptures, say prayers, read a story and talk about the day. Whatever you need to do to connect before bedtime. It gives me and the kids that sense of security we need.
While our living situation isn't ideal it's what we're having to deal with right now and we're making the best of it. I can't say it's getting any easier but I am handling it better and I cherish the time we do have face to face.