Today I feel like I'm going through a blast to the past because I'm talking about a season of our lives that has been over for a while. One that was super hard and that I don't love talking about. I am talking about when Brian worked crazy long hours and I was barely surviving as a wife and mom through it. It was one of those really big chunks of my life that I look back on and just feel super grateful that I'm not there anymore. And for those of you who are there right now, I don't mean that to sound annoying. I hope this episode gives you a lot of hope that things can change for you!
I just want to say that if you're the wife of a long-hour husband, I totally understand. I know some of you have husbands who work even longer hours than mine did and they go to school or you're a military family and they're gone for long periods of time. I've heard from you guys before and I'm just so floored by your dedication to your families and I just want to encourage you that things can get better. Things can change if you want them to and if you're open to it. And if you're not and you know that you're right where you need to be and you're probably going to stay there, there's a lot of ways to create joy and abundance right where you are. I just want you to be encouraged by that.
In This Episode Allie Discusses:
Why it is important to rise above your circumstances, say no to complaining, and work towards joy in anyway that you can.
Practical ways you can make your husbands time off well worth it for your family.
How to use your routine as a guideline that keeps your family functioning smoothly.
What you can do to protect time with your spouse and ways you can encourage him throughout the day while he is working those long hours.
Mentioned in this Episode:
Ep 063: Life Hacks for Moms of Littles
Blog Post: For the Wife Whose Husband Works Long Hours
If you are looking for a simple way to connect with your hubby while you guys are apart during those long work days, let me help you out! I put together a list of 20 Text Messages that you can send to your husband to get a connective conversation started. It is a FREE download that you can save to your phone for whenever you kind of feel like you need to connect a little bit through the day!
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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Hi, beautiful friend! Welcome to another episode of The Purpose Show! Today I feel like I'm going through a blast to the past because I'm talking about a season of our lives that has been over for a while. One that was super hard and that I don't love talking about.
However, I have a blog post that I wrote years ago that has just kind of always gained traction, and it's on this topic of what you can do as a wife and mom when your husband works crazy long hours, because that is a difficult role to be in. It takes a lot.
This is mainly for women who are stay at home moms and their husbands work really long hours. That's the role that I was in for years. That's where I was at when I started my blog about seven years ago (at the time that I'm recording this episode) and it's how I came to find minimalism and simplify my life out of necessity.
Brian had a job at a big global company where he did tech work and he installed cable in different corporate offices and things like that. It was a physical labor job too. He would have to climb up into attics in 100-degree weather and install and run cables and all sorts of things. So, he was gone and he was gone a lot. And he was exhausted when he would come home. He usually left before the kids and I would wake up in the morning and came home after they were in bed, and sometimes even after I was in bed because it was so late. So, this isn't really a fond time in my life for me; parts of it were, but it was really, really difficult.
It was one of those really big chunks of my life that I look back on and just feel super grateful that I'm not there anymore. And for those of you who are there right now, I don't mean that to sound annoying. Actually, I hope that part of this episode gives you a lot of hope that things can change.
If anyone was stuck in that lifestyle, it was us. We were living paycheck to paycheck. We were super, super broke. There was no cushion for us to leave or find something else. We lived in southern California, which is where we live now. And Southern California is expensive. At that time, and even now, there really weren't a lot of jobs, but especially at that time. It was after the recession hit and there just really wasn't a lot of work. People were really struggling.
So, we felt really grateful to have that job and to have the opportunity for overtime, even when the overtime was forced. We were able to barely make ends meet, but they were met and we were okay. We just really missed each other and Brian missed out on a lot of really key things as a dad. And speaking of that, two things, if you have not listened to our story of how we got out of this time, listen to episode six, how my blog saved my husband from his 9-5 or got my husband out of his 9-5 I think is the less dramatic, actual title. It's very emotional. I cry the whole second half of the episode. It's our story, our money and business story, and it's really powerful. And there's also like a free download that comes with it, if any of you are interested in starting your own blog business
Basically, we went from super, super broke as a joke and then all the way out to the other end of the spectrum of a seven-figure income from my blog and me pursuing my purpose. And now Brian and I run our company, The Purpose Group, Inc., together from home, we homeschool the kids and we kind of take turns and swap out all the different roles. And it's awesome. This was our dream and we never, ever thought it would happen.
So, having said that, the second thing I want to tell you is if you’re resonating with this episode once I get into it, and you're just like, “Oh my gosh, I need to simplify. I need to be able to think about these things. I need to be able to breathe and enjoy my kids. I don't want every day to feel like I'm just waiting for the end of the day to come so I can be done,” go right now and download The Minimalism Starter Kit. You can go to alliecasazza.com/starterkit and get it for free or you can just go to the show notes for this episode and get it there, but The Starter Kit is exactly what it sounds like.
It is a beginning kit for moms who want to simplify their physical space so it's all about the home and how you can cut down on the clutter which is taking up your energy, your time and your focus. And you need to have as much of those three things as possible to pour into your kids and your family, especially if you are a wife of a long-hour husband.
So, go get that free download right away. And having said those things, let's dive into this episode.
So, when Brian got the job that he had for about eight years, before he left and even before that, the jobs he had before that were in the same industry and they were all really similar, but that job he had the longest so it stands out to me in my mind as that season.
Before he left so I could go all in with my business, he worked there for about seven or eight years. When he got that job, we were told that the hours were 8-4:30 and it was about an hour away from our house. So, with the commute and traffic, we were already kind of like, “Okay, well you're not really gonna make it home for dinner unless you get off early. But that's okay. We'll rearrange our schedule. We'll eat dinner late or you can eat dinner when you get home. We'll figure it out. But this job is awesome and we're super grateful.”
So, once he started working, we really quickly realized, through a lot of arguments and canceled plans, that overtime was just a part of his job. Brian never really knew when he would be off work. It changed day to day and depended on the heaviness of the workload and the type of work required at his final job of each day. And also, we started that job like when we had just had Bella, (or before we even had Bella, I think, I don't remember) but as our family grew in that job and once we had 3,4 kids to support overtime was no longer the company's decision. It became a mandatory part of his job in order to make ends meet.
So, at that point in our lives, we'd come to a decision that as long as his job could support our family, it was better for him to be at work for long periods of time so that I could stay home with our babies. And that was both of ours decision. Neither of us ever went back on it. Every once in a while things would get really financially strained and we'd think like, “Hey, is this right? Should I do something? Should I go get something to contribute? What can we do?” We just never, ever, ever felt peace about changing that. We always both felt really great about me being home and Brian working. It just never really made sense for us to both be gone at a 9-5 or whatever and pay for childcare and all that. It just wasn't going to be worth it.
We were always thankful for his job and the opportunity to have the overtime, but it goes without saying that it was really, really hard because basically what was happening was he was consistently working six days a week. Every once in a while he would even work seven days a week and he was working 12 to 14 hour days each of those days.
That's a really big thing and it requires a lot more than people realize. At that time most of my friend's husbands would come home before dinner was served and I just didn't even know what that was like. I used to think a lot about all the family studies that have been done showing that families who eat dinner together every night are stronger. They stay together. They sent happier, smarter kids out into the world.
And of course, as a believer, you know, it would be ridiculous of me to believe that God can't rise above that statistic and our situation and you know, make all things work together for good, but it still hurt me so deeply to know that we did not have a lifestyle that allowed for that type of daily family time. That was really hard. But I learned over the course of some time that the hard truth was that moping and complaining about it or trying to change things out of my control or out of anger is never going to do any good.
So, I continuously prayed that my husband would be where God wanted him and that He would just keep blessing us and guiding our work decisions and keep giving us peace about one decision or another, whether I would go to work or Brian would get a different job or we would stay where we were with Brian at that job and me at home. That He would just continue to guide us and keep giving us peace. That we would know that we were following Him no matter what changed or what happened
And that was really the best thing that I could do. It was the most powerful thing too. I know that that was where Brian was supposed to be at that time. And because of my prayers, God nudged me when it was finally time to make a change years and years later.
I want to say, I don't know if that sort of a schedule, if that's where you're at, if that's your lifestyle right now. I really don't know if that sort of schedule is sustainable for a couple who wants to have a happy, close marriage since you're really not able to share and talk much. But we did do that for a long time and we made it work. And even though we had a lot of struggles that wouldn't have happened if our schedule was lighter, it did work.
Yeah, it was some of the darkest times for us. Our marriage went through a really dark time several times in there. And I was really lonely. I struggled with depression. I had a lot of negative things happen, but it doesn't have to be everybody's story. I'm just sharing what happened to us.
So, if you're in that situation and it feels really tough, I want to encourage you. Pray. Be open to some other way, somehow. Wait. And in that waiting be all there where you are. Show up to make things as good as they can be in that season.
Like I said before, if there was ever going to be a family who was stuck in that lifestyle, it was us. We had no way out. We had no college or experience or anything that could get us an amazing job. Brian was constantly trying to do inner-company education, to get a better job and the company kind of dangled by like a carrot in front of him for years and years and promised a raise, six figures a year and all this stuff. And that's actually why we moved to Arkansas because of a promised position that would be much better for our family. And we got there and it was a total lie. It was actually worse and that's when we started the business.
I just want you to know that even when things are difficult, like look at what I just said, we moved away from everyone we know and love and things got even worse and that was God getting us into the position to make a change. He had a plan all along, so just pray, be open to anything, be open to some other way and show up and make things as good as they can be while you wait in the current situation.
So, in that season of our life, my job was to rise up in that circumstance, say “no” to complaining. I would always think about how does it make my husband feel when he's working as hard as he is and then he comes home to a complaining wife. I just didn't want that for our marriage and you know, feeling sorry for myself and all that. And I just decided to not do that, to come into this role and work towards joy in any way that I could. I'm sure you can see how this kind of led to minimalism and simplified living and all the things that I talk about now.
But here's really at the heart what I was focusing on during that time. It pleases God when I choose to praise when circumstances do not make it easy. It makes my husband so happy when I choose joy and I'm happy with him and grateful for his hard work ethic and his job. It pleases God when I make my husband happy. So clearly it does a lot of good when I choose joy and no good at all when I give into my flesh by griping, giving into depression and letting this “own” me and take over.
Plus, I would always think about who was watching me: four little people with souls and hearts open to receive what they see in me. As the mom, I'm the heart of the family. So what I say and do and the attitude I exude is everything in my house. And that's really powerful.
So having said all that, how do you handle life with small kids and being a stay at home mom with a husband who is mostly gone?
There are a few key choices that I made and I'm calling them “choices” on purpose that made a big difference and I want you to keep in mind that I was never perfect. All of these things were struggles for me. I failed all the time, but these are the things that I kind of figured out helped make it a little bit better.
So first of all, Brian's days off called for some serious family time. So, when Brian would have a day off, I pretty much ignored my cell phone and so did he. We would just turn the world off and tune into our family. Depending on what we were feeling was best for our family that day, we would either hang out at home or spend the entire day out, totally bypassing nap times and just paying the price of cranky babies and soaking up every hour together.
If we did stay home, we would really be engaged. We'd read books to the kids. We'd have a fun family movie night. We'd go for a hike near the house. Maybe even get caught up on things, whatever. Whether it was super fun or really mundane as long as it was done as a family, that was the goal. We involved the kids in everything, even when they were super little in any way that we could, because we just wanted to be together.
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Next thing was we took advantage of technology while Brian was working. Brian would leave for work before the kids were waking up and he would get home after they were in bed. We really tried hard to come up with a very unique schedule like I tried to have the kids be awake when he would come home from work and then just hope they would sleep in the morning and that didn't work because they were really little at the time.
We tried a workaround where we could be together when Brian got home or before he went to work, and nothing worked. So, I learned, okay, they need to just have normal wake up and bedtimes and we're going to have to figure something else out. So, when he was working and he wasn't seeing them, we ended up switching to iphones so that we could take advantage of Facetime.
The kids just freaked out and they would love talking to their dad on Facetime. We would do Facetime during Brian's lunch break a couple of work days a week. But I was careful not to tell the kids that it was going to happen until it was actually happening just in case something came up and it didn't work out because that caused a lot of arguments and frustration on my end when one of his jobs would go longer than normal. We'd be waiting to talk to him and the kids would not understand and they'd be crying. I definitely didn't want to foster any abandonment issues or anything, as slight as that might be. I just didn't want to cause any more heartache. It was really, really hard on us that he was gone so much.
I would also send him tons of pictures and videos of whatever we were doing that day. Even if he didn't respond or he couldn't see them until the end of his day, he always told me that that really helped him feel like he missed less and brought him a lot of joy.
The next thing was I would have it in my mind that I am a single parent on the days he's working. What that did was it removed all of my expectations for Brian for when he would be home. So, if he could get home early one night and help me with the bedtime routine, that would be great. If we could maybe make it to a social event that we were invited to together for once, that would be great. But I didn't hold onto those things as expectations.
I didn't want to be let down because when I would hold onto those things, like, “okay, this is gonna happen. Brian said he would for sure be off by 3:00. We're going to go to this dinner party. Great.” I would never let myself get there, after a couple of years of arguing and total chaos. I let go of those expectations because when I didn't, when I held onto them, I was completely let down if it didn't end up happening how we had planned. And then I'm in a terrible mood and I wouldn't be able to love on my husband when he got home and be in a good mood because I was just stressed and honestly a little resentful because the whole lifestyle was so stressful.
I always compare it to like a casserole that you're putting in the fridge for leftovers. You put Saran Wrap over it and that Saran Wrap is put super taut over that casserole. If you poke it with anything sharp, it's going to not only poke a hole but the hole stretches and expands into a bigger hole. And I kind of felt like that at this phase of our life. Like I'm just stretched so thin, if one little thing pokes a hole, the whole thing's gonna collapse and I'm done.
So, I acted like on the days when Brian was scheduled to work, I am a single parent. I have no expectations for a husband today. I would go out for coffee with a friend once a week and my mom would come over and stay with the kids when they were in bed so I could go. I would go every week to that no matter what. I kind of just did my own thing and had my own life. I went to barbecues without Brian. I attended things that we were both invited to by myself. Sometimes I'd go with the kids; other times I'd have a grandparent watch the kids and I would go by myself. But I didn't have any expectations of him and that way if he did end up coming, it was great.
And I know I just mentioned that I went out for coffee with a friend and kind of live my own life, but that's actually another point of something that I did to help myself during this season. Going out for coffee with my friend. It used to be on Monday nights and I'll never forget it. We did it for years. It was so great. She's still one of my closest friends and we live near each other again after the move to Arkansas. We live together again in Southern California. We used to go out for coffee on Monday nights every week no matter what.
I had to take care of myself and I had to make sure that my well was full so that I could continuously and constantly be pouring out to my family and coffee with my dearest friend was such therapy for me. It got me out of the house. I'm sipping a delicious cup of coffee that I didn't have to make myself. It's still hot. I'm talking to another adult. Total perfection. We never, ever missed a coffee night. Maybe it had to be rescheduled for a different night that week, but it was always once a week.
I remember one time we had the flu hit our house and somehow with quick healing and essential oils and a lot of juice, we still made it happen that week. We didn't care if the other got sick. We just stuck to it religiously. We both needed it in that season of our lives. And we had a great time and we always started our week out refreshed because of that coffee date.
Another thing that I did was I planned for an occasional nap during the week and I mean I really planned for it. Since my mom hours were almost double most peoples’ I was really tired a lot. I tried to let go some of the chores and just lay down on my couch a couple of times a week during the kids' nap times. Then when Bella got a little older and stopped napping, she and I would just cuddle up on the couch and we'd turn on Dora the Explorer or something and I'd just rest my eyes for 20 minutes or so while she watched her show and had a snack.
I just incorporated a lot of rest because I realized because my days are so long and I'm doing everything in the house - all the cooking, all the errands, all the parenting, every single thing – totally and completely from dawn to dusk by myself, I wore out quicker than most moms and I just need rest and I allowed myself that as much as I could.
Another thing that I did was I had a routine that I used as a guideline and it really helped me. This is when I started getting really into routines and I realized that even though I'm a super spontaneous person and I tend to want to reject all routine in order in my schedule, it makes me feel kind of trapped, this is when I learned that that is actually not what routines do at all. They actually enable you to have things taken care of so that you can afford to be more spontaneous and have fun because things aren't behind, like ever. And it really brought me a lot of freedom.
So, I would have a list of daily and weekly “must dos” kind of like the things that kept our family functioning smoothly. I would never fulfill it perfectly (it's not really my personality anyway) but that really helped me keep the cupboards full of snacks, the house picked up, the laundry caught up, all those things. And when you don't have your husband home to wrestle with the kids in the evening while you catch up, a routine is a huge lifesaver.
By the way, if you want to get some help in establishing some rhythms and routines in your day, I also have a freebie for that and I'll put that in show notes as well. I know I mentioned the Minimalism Starter Kit but I'll put that Developing Rhythms and Routines Workbook in there for you guys too. It's totally free. So you can go to show notes for that and I'll give you the link to that at the end.
Another thing that I did was I didn't let the work schedule, Brian's work schedule, become a “pause button” for our family.
What I mean by that is Brian's work schedule used to really bring us down. I would wait to do anything of memory making substance until he had a day off. And a lot of the time he would be so exhausted that he wouldn't want to do anything. He would want to stay home on his day off. And so, I was kind of constantly let down and frustrated and we felt like we were battling each other for serving my needs and getting out of the house and having a fun family day and serving his needs of lying low and letting him rest.
Especially the weeks where we only had one day off. That was really hard because normally when we had a schedule for a little while where we had two days off, we would just compromise. One day we do what you want to do; the other day we do what I want to do. When we had one day it was really high pressure to have a lot of things packed into that day. A lot of rest, a lot of play, a lot of family time and that just doesn't really work in one day with kids who are on a nap schedule.
So, I started just taking the kids to do fun things by myself. I didn't wait for Brian to be off anymore. While he was at work, we did fun things. Things that you would normally think, oh, we'll wait for daddy to have a day off, I just did them myself. I would invite a friend or a grandparent to come along with me if I needed to, because I knew my limits and when I could and couldn't handle the kids on my own, but I lived my life as their mom.
I took them on fun adventures all the time. We had Disneyland passes for a while, especially when Brian was working a ton of overtime and we had a little extra cash. I took the kids, eight months pregnant with my 11-pound baby (oh my gosh, that's a story for another day) to Disneyland by myself with a stroller and everything all the time in the heat of the summer. It was great. We had a great time.
So, I grew a pair, for lack of a better term, and just decided, “I can do this myself. Single moms do this. I can be super strong and handle this.” And I just did a ton of fun stuff without Brian and we had some awesome memories. It really cemented the closeness between me and my kids.
Another thing that I did was I planned a monthly night out, and some nights in on the weeks in between, with Brian and myself.
So, we are really, really, really, really, really, really, really big on having time together as a couple. In this season of our lives (if you follow me on Instagram, you probably know this) but we go out on a date night every single week. Sometimes I share that we're going; sometimes I don't. Sometimes I just need a break from my phone and don't care if you guys know that we're on date night. Before it just had to look different because of his crazy schedule.
The bottom line was that we had to have alone time together. Every married couple does and we were really big on that. We felt like it was extra important for us because our schedule was so crazy. When we would go out, we would choose a restaurant that we could afford, that we liked, and enjoyed the benefits of his working so much with a nice meal that we paid for, that we didn't have to cook. We would really make the most out of it.
I remember date night being once a month for a while during that season. We would sit close to each other, hold hands, kiss and act like a dating couple. Then on the weeks in between our outside of the house date night, we would stay in, cozy up on the couch and we'd act the same way together on our couch. As long as we were without the kids and enjoying each other's company, the goal was met, the marriage was strengthened and that's all that mattered to us.
We've said it before. We've done quite a few episodes of the podcast on our relationship and on date night (and I can link to those in the show notes for you guys as well) but date night has always mattered to us a lot. And even when it wasn't called date night and it wasn't every week and it wasn't fancy and fun like it is now, our time together has always been the most important thing outside of our relationships with God.
The next thing and last thing that I did to make that lifestyle easier for myself was I had a goal to leave the house once every day. So if I knew that at some point every single day I was going to leave the house with the kids, it helped motivate me to get dressed and put myself together in the morning, which always helps me feel energized. It lifted my mood. It helped me be more productive. Usually my outing would be the gym. For a while we had a really awesome affordable gym pass with Kids Club at this awesome gym. It ended up closing down. It was by my house. They probably closed down because they were so cheap.
But they had this great Kids Club with face painting, activities and a jungle gym. My kids loved it and they would beg to go every day. So, I used the opportunity to up my fitness game and get a break and it was just the perfect place to go. I had motivation and exercise boosted my moods and helped with fatigue. It was fun for my kids. I lost weight and got healthier.
On the days that we would skip the gym, we would do the park or the local lake or something, but pretty much every single day we left the house at least once. That was kind of my rule. It was pretty rare that something would come up that we didn't leave, like sickness or, I was fine, I had a lot of energy and was getting a lot done in the house and didn't end up leaving and that was okay. But the point was to help the day go by and be finished well. To have a good time together and just break up the day. Break up being home.
That's all I have. I know it's nothing hugely groundbreaking or anything. If you want more tips like this, you can listen to the episode about Life Hacks for Moms of Little Ones, which I'll link to that episode as well.
I just want to say that if you're the wife of a long-hour husband, I totally understand and I know some of you have husbands who work even longer hours than mine did and they go to school or you're a military family and they're gone like overnight too. I've heard from you guys before and I'm just so floored by your dedication to your families and I just want to encourage you that things can get better.
Things can change if you want them to if you're open to that. And if you're not and you know that you're right where you need to be and you're probably going to stay there, there's a lot of ways to create joy and abundance right where you are. I just want you to be encouraged by that.
Also, if you are looking for a simple way to connect with your hubby while you guys are apart, a while ago (I think like years ago when I first wrote that blog post that was based on this topic) I put together a list of 20 Text Messages that I would send to Brian that you could send to your husband to just kind of get a connective conversation started. I had it rebranded so it matches my business right now and it's a pdf that you can just download and save to your phone for whenever you kind of feel like you need to connect a little bit and he's away from you. It’s 20 Text Messages To Send To Your Husband. You can get that at the show notes for this episode. Again, it's totally free. You can go snag that and the Rhythms and Routines Workbook and the Minimalism Starter Kit Workbook and see all of those other episodes that I mentioned.
You can find everything that you want for this episode is at alliecasazza/shownotes/074. I love you guys and I hope you were super encouraged by this episode.
This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to facebook.com/groups/purposefulmamas.
Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.
I am always rooting for you, friend!
See ya next time!