You know it is coming soon, anticipation is in the air, it has been a while and your husband is just going to utter those dreaded words. “I have a business trip.” Here we go again.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a single mother although you are not officially one? Feel confused; let me take you into the world of ‘temporary’ single mothers who are left with a large weight on their shoulders upon their husband’s travel.
Summiyya, a mother of two tweens and a toddler shares her experience: “When my husband is away on one of those travel trips, I get a glimpse of a single mother’s life which is really tough and I get to appreciate the ordinary life because what is norm to you might be luxury to other people.”
Be Ready for That Little Extra
Take a deep breath because your roller coaster ride is just about to begin. You will soon feel overwhelmed; tired, angry and sorry for yourself and at times, may even experience pangs of anxiety. This one comes from recurring experiences, both on mine and my friends’ end.
I constantly tell my husband, when you guys travel, kids get sick, go through exam weeks, or there are extreme weather conditions like tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. I strongly feel Allah tests us with these things in that specific time period to make us stronger and they sure do prove to yourself that you have so much more potential than you would have ever imagined.
What was shared responsibility now becomes sole responsibility, which is quite overwhelming. When you feel too tired or burdened, you always have this feeling at the back of your mind that you can count on your spouse to help you out. But, what if this spouse is 100’s of miles away; what do you do then?!!
Between work, school, shopping, kids practice, etc. things start to get out of control and you start sensing this is becoming more like a full time driver job. Meher, a mother of three young kids shares her concerns: “The biggest challenge for me is picking and dropping the kids and just having the feeling that your better half isn’t there what if something happens.”
You get that extra challenge to always try being strong and supportive and making sure your kids don’t sense your stress. A mother of three who temporary moved to another country for academic purposes, and whose husband had to stay behind for bread-winning purposes; would constantly have her older son tell her you are so stressed when Dad is not around and the youngster was constantly sad and quiet badly missing his Dad.
Tending to kids non-stop is quite stressful, thus you must make sure to find alleviating methods to control that stress. Prayers, Quran, Dhikr, etc. are soothing breaks for quenching your spiritual void.
Your survival key in this period is being extra organized. Remember, you don’t have your spouse around to divide the job so you need to make it work yourself. Delegate chores to your kids, try to make it interesting so they don’t forget or lose focus. Make schedules and time targets for them and avoid getting distracted with less urgent tasks. They can wait for later.
Reem, a mother of three youngsters shares her experience. “I am a mother of 3 kids and my husband travels a lot on business trips. It’s a big struggle to handle 3 kids and a home all alone. The biggest challenge I face when my husband is away is time management. As the duties are no longer shared by two and since I basically have to do everything myself I have to manage my time really well to be able to get everything done. The way I do this, is by having daily schedules for everything that has to be done.”
While kids are at school or even if you have youngsters with you still at home, meet up with your friends, arrange play dates for the younger ones. You need to socialize, to get a wellness boost. This is also a perfect timing for gatherings at your place with other sisters for halaqas (Islamic lectures) and socializing.
Try to bond more with your kids this period. Take them out to their favorite places and get to know them better and one last thing; let them do the talking this time.
Summiyya adds: “My kids miss their father a lot when he is away and take out their frustrations in their own ways , I try my best to make this period cheerful by finding common grounds.
We dine out where we like , eat foods which I normally don’t make since my husband doesn’t think it’s healthy or even food, we go easy on treats , kill our time in library and masjid since it’s better way to do rather than sitting at home sulking , sometimes I visit or have play dates around that time so I don’t have to rush home with dinner deadline .You can also do some retail therapy and get away with it during that time.”
Use any privileges you could get hold of. Carpool with your friends instead of managing all that driving yourself. Meher adds: “Have a close bond with all your buddies and keep them well informed that hubby isn’t around, any help anyone offers don’t say no as it will not only help you physically but morally and emotionally as well.”
Make it easier on yourself by enjoying things that you may not otherwise get a chance to enjoy while your husband is around. Like making simple meals that you know your spouse dislikes but you and the kids just love. They won’t even mind having it again so you can ease the pressure of constant cooking. Also now is not the time you need to show off your cleaning skills. You can leave off to your kids’ sports practice and just fix the mess later.
Reap the Fruits
Kids learn to be more mature and responsible. Meher rejoices on how: “I see my son showing maturity and responsibility subhan Allah and the daughter then follows him too. Plus, as they know mama has to do everything so they wake up early for school get dressed themselves eat breakfast without any fuss and we are out of the house without any fights Alhamdulillah.”
First published: February 2017