10 STRATEGIES FOR SURVIVING WORKING AWAY FROM HOME
Working away from home and family has become a necessity for many people, whether it is to further our career prospects, to set ourselves up for the future, or fulfill a life's dream. With some professions, it's part of the job description. If you do have a choice and you have a young family, it can be difficult because you know that you will never get that time back. Many professionals have opted for a simpler, more modest lifestyle so they can be at home with the kids more often.
If you are working away from home for long periods of time, there are 10 strategies that can help you not only to survive but be successful. To succeed requires a bit of planning, honesty in communication, willingness and flexibility to make changes along the way and most importantly, a commitment to the bigger picture.
1. Have a common vision
Is there 100% agreement that this is what we both want? Will this decision move us towards or away from the vision for our relationship and family. Have we agreed that the time lost with our children is worth it temporarily? Is our relationship strong enough to be away from each other for long periods of time? It's better to thrash it out in the beginning than be arguing about it further down the track. I suggest writing down as much as you can about what you both really want.
2. Have a plan to connect regularly.
How often will we communicate via Skype, phone, email, etc.? This must be kept religiously and involve the children. Have kids draw or paint pictures, record them singing and dancing, make Lego creations and more. Record or perform it live for mum or dad on Skype. Couples need to talk privately about how they are feeling and what's going on for them. Use Skype and phone for intimacy, use your imagination!
3. Create a support plan.
The stay home parent can experience immense pressures that are not always communicated to the work away from home parent. Work out together a system where the stay home parent will receive the support and time-out they need to continue to be effective at home. The travelling parent must ensure he/she insists this is in place before they leave and ensure it continues. It's assumed the job was taken because it pays well so paying for baby sitters, nanny's and child care should not be an issue.
4. Recharge your batteries daily.
The stay home parent needs to ensure that they have time for themselves, whether it's reading, writing, meditating, exercising or just going out with friend for a drink. You must recharge the batteries if you want to keep on giving--running on empty doesn't build, it hurts families. If children are old enough, there are many computer programs where they can have the book read to them and even interact.
5. Organise to meet in person.
Will you fly back home or fly your partner to you? You need to negotiate this with your employer (or yourself) prior to leaving. Set a date and have your partner at home put it on the calendar. It should be a milestone and signpost to both celebrate and evaluate how things are going.
6. Make yourself accountable.
In today's sexually saturated world it's important that couples speak honestly and clearly to one another about their emotional and sexual needs. You decide what will build a strong partnership and family unit, no one else. There are no 'accidents', only decisions. Because of the complexity of the issue, you may need to hire a professional to help you.
7. Talk about your family often.
This is an obvious one and yet a powerful strategy. When around the opposite the sex, talk about your partner and kids. This will stop you from flirting and tells the listener that you are part of a successful and happy family unit, a bigger picture, something bigger than this job or your career.
8. Be willing to pull the plug.
Before you even set foot outside your door there needs to be agreement that you will come home if you or your partner are in trouble. This can be because of stress and burnout or being put in a compromising situation that will damage your relationship and the family unit. You can set a date on the calendar where you will evaluate (which I would recommend), or bring it up at your next Skype call.
9. Make sure you enjoy yourself.
Many people just don't know how to have fun without their partners! We call them clickie-couples. And while there's nothing wrong with this, you need to be honest with yourself because working away from your partner may not be for you. Hint: Your partner already knows the answer.
10. Have a plan for coming home.
Depending on how long you've been away for, plan a date night or weekend away (or dirty weekend!) to reset and start again. Your hard work and achievement (together) needs to be celebrated. Once you've celebrated, have a plan for getting back into normal life. Once your back together what matters now is your ordinary day. Let it be a continuation of what you have been building on whilst you were away.
If you work on these strategies you will be successful at building a great relationship and family through difficult and testing times. You will be able to look back at this season in life as both exciting, and a learning experience that strengthened you both, and helped your family feel even more grateful for what they have.
Article by Claude Arganaraz