I travel a lot for work. As much as I love what I do, the toughest part for me is being away from my family.
The days I leave for business trips are always emotional for me. My five kids (yep, 5!) will hug and kiss me and the tears will fall. Believe me, it’s not easy for me, but the one thing that makes me feel good is knowing that my husband has it covered.
Because my husband is a pro at taking care of the kids and making it look so easy – and because I know a lot of moms are like me when it comes to being away from my family – my husband and I have decided to share (some of) his super-dad secrets with you.
Prepare before the trip
Whether it’s arranging for carpools to school, reminding him what time kids finish practice, or planning meals for the family, I don’t think either of us would make it if we didn't create a plan together before I leave for a trip. To create the best plan, we recommend you do the following:
- Sit down (somewhere quiet) together. Making sure we’re not distracted helps us focus on the plan.
- Give him the pen. Whether you use a shared calendar or keep notes tacked to your fridge, review the plan together and have him write it down as you go. Giving him control of the list helps your husband connect to the information and ensures he’ll keep track of things in a way that’s most digestible for him (remember, you won’t be the one referencing the list).
- Ask him questions. What’s he’s worried about? What’s his work schedule be like this week? How did it go last time you were gone? Reviewing the past and reminding him that this week is also about him and his needs, helps you both identify challenges that you might not think if you’re only talking about the kids.
Magically manage meal time
For me this is especially important to address. Imagine, five kids who want five different meals. More than just preparing in advance, you also need to tackle meals with a tested strategy – and your trusty tools. Here are our insider tips:
- Find a routine. This is especially helpful for a family like mine, in which everyone likes different foods and wants different things. Have your husband stick to your family’s existing meal schedule if possible. And if not, help him layout times in his schedule when he can prepare meals.
- Let his skills shine. Instead of asking your husband make your signature dish, let him pick out meals he can make well – and meals he likes to eat! For my husband breakfast is a breeze. He’s a pro at pancakes and scrambled eggs! And one of his all-time staples is Jimmy Dean sausage.He LOVES to make big breakfasts on the weekends for the boys because that’s how he grew up. I LOVE seeing my husband continue on with this tradition.
- Prepare him for challenges (for us, dinner is the biggest one). Mom’s away. Swim practice goes until 7PM three nights a week – what’s a Dad to do? He’s got to find an easy way to prep meals for 5 kids (and for him, too!) and also find food that everyone will eat. Recently we have been experimenting with Jimmy Dean’s beyond breakfast offerings. I stock up on everyone’s favorites during my weekly shopping trip before I leave town (William loves the Delight Three Cheese Pasta Bowl, Alex loves the Pulled Pork Bowl, Benjamin loves the Smoked Bacon Mac & Cheese Bowl, Henry loves BBQ Beef Sandwiches… And my husband? He loves the Delights Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwiches). They are so easy and I know they keep everyone happy and healthy while I’m on the road.
Last but not least, set your alarms! The best part of my days away are the times I check-in with my family. We try to connect in the mornings before the kids are off to school – and then again as the kids are going to bed. Agreeing to set times (yes, use an alarm!) helps us stick to these check-ins – and makes the road feel a bit more like home.
Disclosure: This post is part of a collaboration with Jimmy Dean and SheKnows.
Photo credit: Christopher Kimmel/Getty images