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Husband Who Travels for Work or Has Crazy Schedule?

I am wondering if there are any other stay at home moms out there who have husbands with CRAZY irregular work schedules, including traveling for work & your husband's work schedule changing, often at the last minute. My situation is further complicated by the fact that we do not have a lot of family/friends in the area who can help with child care. I have one son who is almost two. He's always been very very active. He hasn't stopped moving since he started crawling at 6 mos. old. Now that he's almost 2, he's still always on the go...running & exploring & climbing. Our most reliable sitter is my father, but he is 76 years old & it's a lot to expect him to keep up with my son. My mother-in-law is a bit younger, but she works full-time, helps with her sick mother & her daughter's kids, so I try not to ask for help from her very often. She has A LOT on her plate as it is.

It's been difficult for me to adjust to SAHM lifestyle. I find myself feeling trapped and dependent like a child rather than the grown woman I am. I am almost 40. Whenever I make the smallest commitments to others (I am currently hosting a small bridal shower & bachelorette party, I recently did about 6 hours of volunteer work over the course of 2 weeks), or when I try to participate in something that would be considered self-care for myself (an exercise class at the Y or my book club that meets every 4-6 weeks) I find myself in a bind for child care b/c at least half of the time or more, my husband suddenly has a change in his work schedule or he is out of town. I would like to apply to grad school or just commit to an exercise class or a hobby like learning to sew, but I ALWAYS seem to end up in a bind. It happens so often, that it is hard for me to find last minute sitters. In a perfect world-one where I would have more money, I would just hire a part-time nanny/housekeeper to come every week regardless of when my husband was working or what plans I have. Since that fantasy is NOT going to happen, I am wondering, how do other women out there do this? I feel guilty & think that if I were a more devoted mom or more accepting of my situation this would not bother me so much. Seriously tho', I haven't gone out with any of my friends without my son (except for a couple of very special occasions) in nearly 2 years. My husband and I rarely go on dates. I have missed dentist appts. and regular check ups with the doctor b/c I have so little time to myself to schedule anything. Most of my family are not super understanding/supportive about my situation. I have had several people say "You just need to think of yourself as a single mom." The other response I get from mom friends I know is, "Oh my God, I don't know how you do it! " The first response makes me angry & the other used to make me feel validated, but now I just feel sad that my husband & closest family don't "get it."

I know lots of other moms who are able to keep up with hobbies & interests, travel & date nights, and all sorts of things. Mostly they count on their husbands or lots of family to help out. My husband is a great guy, but he's not reliable b/c of his job. He's also not good at planning (even if he had a 9-5 schedule) so it always falls upon me to figure everything out for me, for him, and our son. I have struggled emotionally myself & I do find myself feeling angry & resentful of my husband at times.

Note that in my husband's industry, other guys he knows have gotten divorced. Several wives of his co-workers told me that it was really hard when their kids were small & their marriages were not very good then. Others had enough resources to hire help, and some changed careers b/c the travel & schedule was too much & it was hard on their families. Financially not traveling is not an option. My husband feels "trapped" and says he will make half of his salary if he takes a non-travel position.

So...please...any ideas? Anyone out there in a similar situation? Sometimes I feel like I am THE ONLY person out there in this situation. I think it would help just to talk or email with someone who is in the same situation.


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Welcome to my life! :) I know exactly how you feel. My husbands job is 100% travel. He goes out of state for a couple/few weeks at a time, then comes home for a week or two. When he is home, he is just home, doesn't work at all. Which is great and makes it much more bearable, but it still wreaks havoc on our routine. When he does get called out to work, he usually has 24 hours notice. Rarely more than that, and sometimes quite a bit less. So we can't schedule anything. I can try to get my hair cut when he is home, but there is a good chance I will have to cancel. And we never know with any certainty or advance notice when he will be home.

We don't have any extra money to put my son in a mom's day out program or daycare or have a nanny either. My husband would do it for me in a heartbeat if we could afford it, but the recession hit us hard- he was laid off for 6 mos and when he went back to work he went back at half the pay he was making. Sure, he'd like to find another company that will pay better, but it isn't likely. So we are stuck making the best of the situation.

I do have my mom close and she can watch him in the evenings, but not the daytime, so I never get anything done. And I feel bad asking her to watch him too often because she works like 80 hours a week. So I try not to take advantage of her. I feel a lot like I did when my husband used to be in the military and on deployment, but at least then they had family support groups through the base. I don't have anything like that now, and I would almost rather he still be in the military to have that again. My husband's field has a pretty high divorce/single guy rate. Not many guys have young families like him. But I don't mind him being gone, we got used to that with the military. And I don't resent his job at all. Sometimes I resent the situation, or wish that he had a different career/skill set, but there is not much I can do about that. That is what is hard for me to work through.

My days and nights revolve around my kid. I am frequently tired and I tend to slack around the house and stuff. I just can't do it all myself. But scrubbing floors just isn't all that important, in the big picture. I joined a moms club and that has been a lifesaver. We get out once a week or so for a playgroup or event, and I have made some new friends. They all say the same thing- "no way could I do that!" Well, you do what you have to do. I don't see anyone else stepping up to pay our way. And yes, you do have to think of yourself as a single parent, but you still have to take another person into consideration at the same time. I'm lucky to be able to stay home because if I worked my husband would become a complete non-entity in our lives, and I am not willing to do that. So it is tough sometimes. I just figure in a year or so we should be able to better afford a preschool program, and then I will be able to get a pedicure or a haircut or doctors appointment done occasionally. Any time you wanna vent, feel free to message me!

Good luck,

3 moms found this helpful

Well, my husband doesn't travel but he owns his own business and works/is on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. A lot of times he has to respond to clients emergencies at the "right" moment. Our running joke is whenever we plan to do something - plan on not doing it because something will come up. My family lives in another state and his family is not an option for childcare for us.

So I took matters into my own hands and enrolled my 2 year old in a moms/parents day out program two mornings a week and joined a gym with childcare. The moms day out program comes out to 6 dollars an hour for the amount of time he is there each month - in my area you won't get help for $6/hour unless it's a middle school kid so even though the added expense is there each month it's cheaper than having a sitter. I plan for "me time" those mornings (gym, doctors appts., shopping etc) that he's at school and he goes to the gym day car for an hour or two about twice a week sometimes only once. Once he started going to school I realized how little time I had before for myself.

Since you know the dates that things are happening in advance can't you just hire a sitter for those times and then if your husband happens to be home just cancel? From what you said more times than not you wouldn't have to cancel the sitter. I know a few people who have used sittercity.com and found good babysitters. Also, ask another mom if they use a sitter they would recommend and explain your situation.

We're still working on nights. Husband tries to be home and finish working from home after the kids are in bed but it's always rushed because he's always late getting home.

I think you need to find a sitter who is flexible and schedule the sitter once a week or once every other week. Then regardless if your husband is in town or not, keep the sitter and either have a date night or just go out and have fun with the girls.

Good luck!

Btw - I have lots of SAHM friends who enrolled their kids in part time daycare just to get me time so don't feel bad about doing something like that. even if it's temporary until you figure something else out.

2 moms found this helpful

You mentioned that "I would just hire a part-time nanny/housekeeper to come every week regardless of when my husband was working or what plans I have. Since that fantasy is NOT going to happen, I am wondering, how do other women out there do this?"

Now, just a thought or maybe I misunderstood: but it should not be "you" who has to hire a Nanny helper... it should be your Husband... and you JOINTLY coming to this solution, and paying for it.
Rationally speaking, it would help. And, since your Hubby has a job/income and since he is the one with a complicated job schedule and demands... HE should be a PART of this solution. Not it being on your shoulders. HE has to step up too... it is not just for "you" but he has kids TOO.

My friend, has a similar situation and she has 3 kids, all under the age of 7. Her HUSBAND, hired a part-time Nanny for her to come to the home, to help her and just to giver her some time off and personal time. Until that happened, she would literally be CRYING on some days, because of the stress and demands. She was alone so much, with her husband's job related traveling and demanding schedule. He was not home much. She was a single parent, in a sense.

I think, this should be a JOINT solution... for both you and Hubby to problem solve. Not only yours. This is his family/kids/wife too.

HE could, at least spend something, paying someone, a Nanny... to come and help out. To me, that is his "responsibility" too, as a Husband/Dad and one who has a demanding work life... which keeps him away from home and his "home" responsibilities.
And the thing is... he HAS to be responsible for the style of life HIS job, creates upon his family. Bottom line. He can't just be keeping up with his job and being good at that... meanwhile his home/family life/wife is suffering.

You need to sit down, together, and problem solve this. His job gives him no options, he feels trapped... but you are trapped TOO in "his" job parameters. THUS... he has to be willing to HIRE a Nanny helper for you.
As you said, you cannot rely on your family to do so.
Your Hubby has to be more proactive, in problem solving this, TOO.
Or, you send your child to daycare.... just so you can have a rational life and some time to yourself. Would your Husband want that option?

Your situation is not just "yours" alone... it is your Husband's too.
And he NEEDS to be RESPONSIBLE for that too. If it were not for his job... which is uncommonly demanding... this would not be a problem.
The nature of his job... is not like any everyday regular office job. SO... with that in mind, he has to tend to this.

All the best,

1 mom found this helpful

Dear J,
First, you are not alone - so hang in there! I had a very similar situation - no family around, new to area so not many friends, husband travels a lot, extremely active boy, etc. Here are a few things that have helped me - hopefully some can work for you:
1. My husband's schedule changes all of the time. He is not so good with telling me about the changes (I came to the realization that he just isn't a detail oriented person so I learned to deal with it), so I got his secretary to e-mail me his schedule. This works great as she makes his travel arrangements, so she knows the specifics even before he does sometimes. She also lets me know when there are company meetings, dinners, etc. so I know that he will be in town for those days.
2. Join a gym that has babysitting. This gives you a little break AND lets you take care of yourself. I go to Women's Workout World (in Berwyn) which has extremely reasonable rates (about $20 a month plus a little more for babysitting) - join when they are having a promotion (these occur frequently) to make sure you get a good rate.
3. As summer is right around the corner, see if there is a student in your neigbhorhood who would be interested in babysitting. If it is a younger student, you could even stay home while she comes and let her play with your son while you cleaned the house, etc. If it is a more experienced student, then you could leave the house. I would suggest making a set day/time for the entire summer - for example, every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 9 -11. That way, you always have a set time each week to make your appointments - dentist, hair, etc. You also could make a set weekly rate that could be a lot lower than just one time jobs. Also, I have had a lot of success with boy babysitters, so don't rule them out.
4. When your son turns 3, put him in preschool a few mornings a week. You can find very reasonably priced preschools run by the community, church, etc. Again, this gives you a set day and time to make your appointments. I also felt that this helped my son to socialize with people his own age a little more. At first it was only 2 mornings a week which was just enough for both of us.
5. Having set days where your son is taken care of will enable you to use your Dad less and when you have to do something - e.g., the bridal shower.
6. Don't worry about the house so much. After getting upset for a long time that my house wasn't neat and clean every day, I finally decided just not to worry about it so much as it was more important for me to spend time with my son then to have a clean house. When your son goes to kindergarten, you can have an extremely clean house again because you will have more time to get those types of things done.

That is all I can think of right now. Good luck with everything!

1 mom found this helpful

Have you looked into a teenager watching your son for a few hours per week? It sounds like you can possibly afford $8 - $10 per hour for a teen to watch your 2 y.o. Find them through the YMCA that you attend, most of the time they have a list of sitters that are CPR qual and have taken a sitter class.

It sounds like you feel like you are in a rut. I know, I have been there and got depressed over it. After working hard from the time I was 14 till after having my little girl (second child), I decided to get out of the USAF and stay at home. Our son was just like yours, active since he was born (now being tested for ADHD, but that is a different story).

You are obviously talking to your husband about this rut and he obviously feels trapped for good reasons... but I would really try to deflect this talk and chat with a girlfriend over it than him. Men are problem solvers and feel bad if they can't solve your issues. Reaching out to a GF is best and will keep your feelings flowing while not bogging down your husband.

I really don't agree with another poster about it's his responsibility too: his responsibility is to work and provide the "bacon", yours is to handle the home and the baby. That is what you guys decided on together, just like we did in my example above. You are working, just in a different sense. To me a nanny is for rich people... and that is how much they cost too! My friend is one.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J-
Keep your head up! While my husbands schedule does not sound quite as bad, he does travel quite a bit. He's getting ready to leave for about 3 weeks, home for 2 and then gone for another 2. It is tough, it is hard, it isn't always fun, but it is do-able. I work full-time for most of the year (schools) with 2 little boys, one in K and one in pre-school. Like you, I don't have any family in the area, mine is in FL and my husband's is about 2 hours away. However, I do think it is very important to try to find time for yourself. It sounds like you need a recharge:) I'm in a bookclub, too, which I don't miss...ever. Even if I have to find a sitter for just one or two hours because that's all I can manage that month, then that's what I do. I'm sure it's been suggested, but a lot of park district and Y's have childcare available while you work-out. There are also mom's morning out programs that offer you a least an hour or two for you to take care of yourself, whether it's going to the dentist, the doctor, the gym, or getting a pedicure:) Park district programs are pretty flexible from what I've seen and run for about 6-8 weeks, so if it doesn't work for you, you aren't stuck in a bad situation and out a lot of money, they are also fairly reasonable and might give your little guy some good social opportunities with kids his same age. If you have any other friends with kids near your sons age, you might suggest trading out sitting for each other.
Good luck, and feel free to email back for moral support or to vent! Remember take care of yourself first, so you have the energy to take care of your family.


What about trying to find (or start your own) playgroup where each mom gets to take a turn taking that "playgroup time" for herself? I know this won't solve the problem of making plans and then having to cancel last minute, but at least you will have a network of friends in the same boat ...maybe you will even end up being able to rely on them in those last minute scenarios.

I don't have the answer, but you are not alone out there!
My husband doesn't travel, but he has erratic hours. Right now, here they are: Sun, Mon he is off (but Mondays he golfs). Tues 3-11, Wed 2-10, Thurs either 12-8 or 10-6; Fri 8-4; Sat 7-3. And he has a 50 minute commute each way...

For the first decade we were married, he worked on Sundays and Saturdays, and had days off mid-week.. like Wed and Thurs. so I never had him with me to go to group parties/picnics, etc. Sometimes he works 6-2 and goes back from 11p-7am on the same day. And he can sometimes call ahead and switch his shift to earlier or later, and he does depending... I can plan that he won't be home for dinner, but he is. Or I can plan to cook a big meal b/c he will be, and then he'll swap shifts and won't be.

So, I feel your pain. Our kids are older now (school age) and it is even more challenging, because even though I "get a break" with the kids at school... I have to do all the driving and picking up and taking them to almost every activity... b/c his schedule doesn't fit into it. And he is only home for the dinner meal a few times a week.

I worked a 40 hr/week work-schedule as a paralegal, before we had kids... and we have NO family within 5 hours of us.. so I feel everything you are experiencing!! It does get better though. You just can't compare yourself to other moms.. because they don't have the responsibility or life that you do. We live in a highly military populated area... and I often think that it might be easier if my hubby were deployed for stretches rather than just the erratic schedule. At least I wouldn't have to worry about waking him up in the mornings when I am trying to get the kids ready for school... or waking him when he has already gone to bed (9 pm sometimes) by watching a movie too loudly or cleaning up in the kitchen... or even just that I could finish the laundry --- (when he has gone to bed I can't access our closet to put away clothes).

I have NEVER hired a nanny or house help. I did take our kids to moms groups when they were little... for the adult interaction. And yes, my husband often suggested I join the gym, etc... but it was just too much for me.
As they kids get older, you will learn what works the best for your family. I found that around age 4, the kids suddenly become less clingy.. and you can go to church and the kids will play with the other kids after while you relax and socialize some. Or at the park. The only problem was that you never could go anywhere else without them. Running errands? Gotta take the kids. It can be frustrating.. but it is so worth it.
You will get through it. And I have always felt it is SO important for the kids to have that "constant" in their lives... since Daddy has such an erratic schedule and isn't here at bedtime a lot... that constant is me. Mom is ALWAYS here at bedtime and in the morning, and after school. And yes it has been hard.. and that is not to say that I NEVER go off without them... I do when hubby is home, just not often.. no weekly or monthly "girls night out" or anything like that. But they are so little for so short a time... You will be amazed when your youngest is in 2nd grade or so... you will think.. WOW. How did that happen??

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