Thursday, 16 January 2014

How do you cope when your partner is away...

This week the NC had to go away over night with work. He doesn’t have to do this too often, and really one night isn’t much – the kids were no trouble, Mini had school so didn’t miss daddy too much anyway and Weezy came round to keep me company.
Within months of us getting together the NC and I were living together (albeit at his parent’s house), and until he took this job 10 months ago, the only night we’d ever spent apart was the night before our wedding. But since March, the NC has had to go away 3 or 4 times, and I’ve been away twice too for conferences. It’s been quite hard for me to adjust to this…the NC and I usually spend a lot of time together, we don’t have many separate interests and enjoy each other’s company.

I was feeling a bit down about it this week, so posted on my Facebook and I was a bit surprised to find that many of my friend’s husbands also work away, and in fact they work away A LOT! Like, much of the week. Credit to those mums (and those single mums who do it everyday), because it’s stressful having to be totally responsible for little people 24 hours a day with no-one there to share the duties, relax with and reflect with. And it can be lonely and isolating – adoptive parenting can be those things at the best of times.

A friend also commented that one day could be turned into an adventure, and it could be a whole lot worse. And she’s right it could be, he could be away most of the week like many other people have, and the children could act up the entire time…indeed her own circumstances mean her husband is away much of the time, and they’re like ships passing in the night with her own work commitments too.

To start with I felt silly for feeling upset – after all, some of my friends spend much of the week looking after their kids on their own and here I was moaning about one night.
But I got thinking -
for me…it’s not about how long he’s away for, or where he is, or how much travelling he does…

It’s about how I cope, and how the kids cope, and it’s about what you’re used to. Quite simply, I cope OK, the kids cope OK whilst he’s away, but the shit comes when he returns, we’re not used to it and never expected it. Indeed, when we were being approved we talked at length about evenings and agreed back then that the NC would do bedtime – it would be his time with Mini, and it quickly became part of our routine.

Last night – the NC’s first night back – was horrific and shows just how bad it can be. Mini punishes the NC for being away, and punishes us all for having to endure the change in routine (because he functions best when he has a high level of routine). Last night Mini was so angry with the NC, that he had an enormous meltdown. I won’t bore you with the details, but it took 90minutes just to get Mini changed and in (our) bed, and during those 90minutes the NC got hit repeatedly, Mini banged his head on the wall and we all got cross. It took some time after that to then get him completely calm and in his own bed and even then it wasn’t sleep via gentle slumber, but through exhaustion after the meltdown.

Given that the NC’s trips away are going to continue (and mine too, though less often), and possibly increase….I need some help. How do you all cope with it? Have you any tips for me? Do your children react as Mini does or are they used to it? Is it all they’ve ever known and do you think that makes it easier for them?


  1. Can you do phone calls while you're away? Or Skype? If that's not possible, leaving a little note for each day might help.
    Do you make a visual display to show how long you'll be gone?
    Finally, when you are all back together, maybe a minor celebration, a special pudding, perhaps?
    When my husband goes away, I get the boys to help prepare for his return, it seems to reassure them that he will be back (and it's nice for him to return to a Welcome Home banner).
    Mind you, we still get fallout! When I go away (which I've only done twice) it's even worse. I think you have to expect difficult days afterwards and use whatever you can to keep things together, for us that's routine and food!

  2. When my husband goes away overnight, which he does every 2 or 3 months, we make it into an adventure, and have a little treat, like having chips while watching a DVD in the evening, or going out somewhere special, e.g. a picnic, soft play. He also brings them back a little gift each time, so they know hes been thinking about them (it doesn't have to be much). He writes on the calendar when he will be away so they know well in advance when he'll be gone and for how long. The boys don't react much, in fact they seem to cope really well, as long as they have a treat to look forward to. Sometimes he'll ring them at bedtime, but that always seems to unsettle them more, as it rubs in the fact that he's away. We've found that keeping it fairly low key helps, being very matter of fact about the fact that he's away, to try and make it not a big deal.