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intentional living, marriage

For the Wife Whose Husband Works Long Hours: How To Thrive and Not Just Survive At Home

Read this Update First!

Update 6/16/2021

This was one of my very first blog post I ever wrote. I have expanded on this quite a bit and added some more content, because I remember what it was like being a stay at home mom, being alone, waiting for Brian to come home after a LONG day of being with the children. It was hard. I was in a new city with very few friends.

But since I wrote this post, back in 2013, a lot has changed. I was able to bring my husband home from his full time job (which you can hear about here) and start a 7-figure business and land a major book deal.

But the reality is, me being a stay at home mom was an opportunity for me. Many moms I speak with view being a stay at home mom as a burden.

Parenting is hard. Parenting while your husband is at his full time job hard.

But what if we flipped that script?

What if we saw it as an opportunity for a brand new life? I learned long ago that our perspective on our obstacles can change things into new opportunities.

I was able to use the time I had to work on my blog, develop my philosophy of minimalism and craft a new life for our family in the process. It was hard work, but I maximized the time I had and saw being a stay at home mom as a blessing.

So read this blog. Understand that things have changed so much. But I hope this gives you hope. You really can thrive, mom. You can set the world on fire through your work. You can have that sense of purpose and joy.

Stay at Home Mom Life

When Brian was signed on at his previous job, we were told the hours were 8AM-4:30PM. Once he started working, we quickly realized {through lots of arguments and cancelled plans} that overtime was just a part of his job. We made the 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, than it was for us both to be gone from 8-5 every day.

The hard truth was that moping and complaining about it or trying to change things out of anger wouldn’t do anything good. It did a lot more good when I chose joy in my life, and no good at all when I gave in to my flesh by griping and allowing depression in.

I continually reminded myself of these truths:

  • It pleases God when I choose to praise when circumstances do not make it easy.
  • It pleases my husband when I choose joy and am happy with him and his job.
  • It pleases God when I please my husband.

So how do you handle life with small children and being a stay-at-home mom with a husband who is mostly gone? Here are my key choices that make a big difference. 

Your husband’s days off call for some major family time!

Turn off the world and tune into what our purpose is- family. Depending on what you’re feeling is best for your family that day, you can either hang out at home or spend the entire day out, bypassing naps and soaking up every hour. Sometimes, it’s difficult to get the whole family together. That’s why you should start your weekends as early as possible! Involve the kids in everything, even if it takes a little longer to move through the day. Don’t rush everyone out the door – life is about quality time with your family!

With a husband’s day off, it is imperative to take the time to spend with him and your children. Here are some family-friendly activities that you can do during his days off!

Take the kids on a hike in the woods.

It will be fun for them and bonding for you two as well. You might need to pack snacks but once they get home, they will be exhausted from all their exploring and ready for bed!

Eat out at one of your favorite restaurants or try something new like an ice cream parlor or pizzeria.

I’m personally a fan of eating out at my favorite restaurant. It’s nice to be able to go somewhere and know the food will be amazing, but if you’re not into that there are all kinds of new restaurants in your area worth checking out.

For some larger families, it may be difficult to take your kids out to nice restaurants and have them behave well. While you want everyone in the family to have a good time, you also don’t want your children acting up while you’re there. If that is where you are at, then consider a picnic (more on this below).

Play games at home together like charades or monopoly (or video games…yes, I said it).

One of the things that helped our relationship stay strong is playing games together, especially when I’m stressed out. It’s a fun way to unwind and we get to bond over silly inside jokes. But you don’t JUST have to play board games.

Our family LOVES playing video games together as well. Me and Brian are huge Mario fans so when the kids wanted a Switch, it wasn’t a hard sell. The reality is we play these games together and, as a result, grow closer together. Families bond differently and for us, technology isn’t the enemy.

Plan a picnic

It’s hard to find time for your family that is truly intentional.

Parents always feel like they’re running from one thing to another, and it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. When you do have some free time, there are so many things that need doing around the house or on your phone—it can be hard to remember what really matters most.

Plan a picnic lunch at home or go out for ice cream when it’s warm outside. You’ll enjoy spending quality time together, and may even create new memories that will last forever! Pack the basket with sandwiches and fruits from local stores. Bring along your favorite drinks, like tea or lemonade. If it’s springtime, you can bring dried flowers to make the picnic even more beautiful.

Cook a Fun Meal Together.

Cooking is a great way to spend time together with your family. The problem with cooking is that it can be hard to get the whole family involved, and you end up spending a lot of time doing all the work.

Cooking doesn’t have to be so difficult! If your kids are old enough, they can definitely help out in the kitchen. Even if they’re not old enough for knife safety, there are lots of easy ways to get them involved without making them feel like they’re just getting in your way.

It can be a simple meal. It can be a more complex meal. The idea, however, is that EVERYONE gets involved and has fun.

Go to a Children’s Museum.

Children’s museums are great places for kids to learn about the world around them and play with other children in an environment where they can be themselves without any judgment.

A visit to a museum is a fun way to spend time together as a family, but it can also help children develop skills that will benefit them throughout life. By visiting one of these free or low-cost museums, you’re helping your child build social skills and gain confidence in their own abilities while learning more about the world we live in. This is especially important for young girls who often feel less confident than boys at this age. The best part? These activities are easy on your wallet!

It’s easy to spend a full day at these museum’s as well. Regardless of your age, going to a children’s museum with the family can be an absolute blast.

Take advantage of technology when your husband is working.

It’s tough to be a mom when your husband is working. It can get lonely and tiring. One way to make it a little easier is by using technology, like video chat apps or FaceTime, so you don’t feel so isolated from the family.

If possible, make it a point to let the kids FaceTime with their daddy a couple work days per week. Be careful not to tell the kids about it until it is actually happening, just in case it doesn’t work out. It is also a great idea to send him tons of pictures and videos of whatever we are doing that day. That way he is brought a little joy in his day and feels like he missed less special moments.

Let go of expectations. 

I have to let go of all my expectations about when he will be home, if he could maybe get home early and help me with the bedtime routine, if we could maybe make it to a social event we were invited to, etc. When I hold onto these expectations {because sometimes, they do happen} I am always completely let down if it doesn’t end up happening how I wanted. Then I’m in a terrible mood and can’t love on and serve my hard-working hubby when he gets home.

This has been one of the hardest things for me because there are days that my husband is gone until late at night or even later than normal! But then there are those rare occasions where his work schedule allows him to come home early…and what happens? We both expect each other to take care of our daily responsibilities while we still try to enjoy time together as much as possible. It can create an atmosphere of resentment.

Instead I have to let go of my expectations for when my husband gets home. It’s hard. But by doing this I am honoring him and setting us up for long term success. By doing this I take care of my husband and myself.

Try to go out for coffee with a friend once a week, every week, no matter what.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget about your own needs. But you can’t pour into others if your well is empty, right? Get out of the house for a little while and talk to another adult – it’ll be perfect!

You deserve some time away from the kids, chores, or whatever else has been taking over your life lately. And what better way than by talking with someone who understands you? You’ll get the chance to catch up on what you’ve been doing lately and plan future events together. Get out of the house, sip a delicious cup of coffee that you didn’t have to make, and talk to another adult. Perfection!

Want 20 text messages to encourage, intrigue and love your husband with? I’ve got ’em for you! Click the button to download the text messages for FREE!

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Plan a monthly date night out, and some date nights in, on the weeks in between.

It is extra important for a couple with crazy schedules to have alone time! Go out to one of your favorite restaurants and enjoy the benefits of your husband’s working so much with a delicious meal that you didn’t have to cook. Sit close to one another, hold hands, touch, kiss, and act like a dating couple. When you stay in, cozy up on the couch and act the same way together. As long as you are without kids and enjoying one another’s company, the goal is met, and the marriage is strengthened.

It can be hard to find time for one another when your schedules are so different. But it’s important to make the effort, because quality time together is essential for any marriage. The key is to plan ahead and schedule date nights on the weeks in between. Plan a monthly date night out, and some date nights in, on the weeks in between.

Plan for the occasional nap during the week.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of napping. It’s one of my favorite ways to rest and recharge. Let’s be honest-MOM HAS TO RECHARGE! Try to let go of the chores and lay down on your couch a couple times a week during the kids’ naps. It is so refreshing and will really help you get through that second half of the day.

Maybe you feel guilty over napping. I hear you, busy mom! But here are some tips on why napping is SO powerful and can truly energize your motherhood:

Napping can help you fall asleep at night

Let’s face it, as a busy parent it can be hard to fall asleep at night. However, studies have shown that taking a nap between 1-3 P.M can actually help you fall asleep better at night.

It’s a great way to recharge during the day

If you feel like you are constantly struggling to make it through your day, girl I hear you. You are not alone. Every single woman I have met that has children feels that way. But taking just a 10 minute nap can be enough to recharge your energy so that you can make it through the next stage of the day.

Studies show that naps improve mood and alertness, as well as reduce stress levels

You want to be at your best for your children-especially when you are by yourself during the day. Taking a quick nap can help improve your mood which just makes life so much more pleasant for everyone.

I know that yelling at your children is so easy when you are exhausted. But taking a nap can really give you the space you need to keep your calm and catch your breath.

By the way, I have written more about how I stopped yelling at my kids here.

You’ll have more energy for your evening activities when you nap in the afternoon

The struggle is so real when our husbands come home at night, right? They want to hang out. You’re exhausted. Dinner has to be made. You feel guilty for not having more energy. You want to support him. You don’t want to miss any special moments. You also just want to freaking go to sleep.

That ten to twenty minute nap is a game-changer. I can’t tell you how many times that little nap has empowered me to complete my nightly routine and has allowed me to be more focused.

Have a routine to use as a guideline.

Create a list of daily and weekly must do’s- the things that keep your family functioning smoothly. When you don’t have your hubby home to wrestle with the kids while you catch up, a routine is a lifesaver!

I won’t go into too much depth here on rhythms and routines because I’ve talked a lot about it else where (check out my podcast episode here). In fact, I created an entire course, Unburdened, about getting your schedule right and freeing up the headspace you need.

The reality is, we don’t just need to declutter our homes; we have to declutter our schedule. And routines are an awesome way to do that. I use a process called Time-Blocking, that is immensely helpful as a stay at home mom. I created a tool called the Time-Blocking Mom Workbook that will definitely help you get your schedule right. We all have the same amount of hours in a day and we all have a lot to do. We need to stop playing the victim and start taking OWNERSHIP of our time, and that’s what this workbook will have you doing. After going through this workbook, you’re gonna have a time-blocked, flexible but rigid schedule that works for you and your life.

At the end of the day, rhythms help keep you from bottlenecking in your life. If you can get into a balanced flow of the must-do’s each day, you will always hit the pillow feeling accomplished, even when you didn’t get everything on your list done!

At a minimum your process should include the following:

Brain dump all the things you MUST get done in each area of your life
Setup days where you actually get your tasks DONE
Develop a solid and effective morning routine to get your day started on the right foot
Say ‘yes’ to the right things and ‘no’ to the wrong things that are taking up your time
Organize & categorize what you have going on so you’re running your day, it’s not running you anymore!
Figure out EXACTLY what time you should get up in the morning so you’re rested but have time to be super accomplished

Of course, if you need help doing those things, my Get Yo Day Right Workbook can also be a HUGE boost for you and can help you nail down your routine.

Don’t let the work schedule become a “pause” button for your family.

Take the kids to do fun things by yourself; don’t wait for hubby’s day off. Know that you will do something else fun on his day off, but his schedule can not have you waiting around at home constantly. I know my limits and where I can and can’t handle them on my own, and I live my life as their mom. You want to make sure your whole family (including you) thrive during the crazy work schedules.

Try to keep yourself busy.

Whether that means making an effort to get out of the house at least once a day, or just being productive at home, it’s important to have some form of motivation to get going. Stay busy and don’t let yourself just hang around getting depressive about your husband’s schedule.

Maybe you develop a hobby. I actually started my own business and now I help empower other women to start their own companies as well. If you are looking to start a business try my get Clear on your Calling Worksheet (which is totally free).


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