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Finley Robinson

Family Friday: 4 Rules To Apply When You're The Parent Leaving Town

published2 months ago
4 min read

Hi there, it's Finley 👋🏼 and Happy Friday.

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It's tough going a man down at home

The first 15 years of our marriage included 3 kids and quite a bit of travel for me as a dad.

I wasn't gone 50% of the time nor did I leave on Mondays only to return on Friday. It wasn't that severe.

I would leave though, on several week long trips to Colorado, Tennessee, or Guatemala each year.

On top of that, I was gone 3-4 long weekends on various trips with high school students as well.

It was not easy at all on my wife, leaving her at home with 3 small children to care for.

Most people today have travel built into their family routines. Ours was unique to us like yours is unique to you.

Even though traveling for work is a part of the American culture, it doesn't remove the sting of being the parent at home with all the needs of the family staring you in the face.

I am leaving town for five days on Sunday and I'm already feeling the extra weight shifting on to my wife and are kids are older now!

I know too what it's like when she leaves town and how much she does for our family. It's tough going a man/woman down at home.

So how can we turn the challenges of a parent leaving for travel into a positive outcome for our family?

(Here's a secret: the payoff is much further down the road that you'd like.)

These are my rules for leaving town:

Rule #1 - Appreciate & acknowledge your spouse before you leave.

One of the best ways you can support your husband or wife is by affirming all they are about to take on extra for the family.

Even though you won't be there to contribute physically during a challenging few days of young kid energy, your emotional acknowledgement speaks volumes.

Think about being a bookend of appreciation for your spouse. Before you leave and after you return.

It doesn't matter if it's for a work trip, a guy's golf weekend, a girls getaway or a volunteer opportunity. Appreciate & acknowledge them.

Rule #2 - Set higher behavior expectations for your kids than normal.

You also support your spouse by speaking up for them directly to your children.

Sit down and look your kids in the eye and explain to them that you are leaving. Let them know you are going to miss them.

Also, let them know what you expect of them while you are gone.

Since I was more of the heavy in our family, I knew that our kids would try to take advantage of dad being gone and try to squeeze more out of mom.

I would bring this up to my young kids and they would smile back at me, both of us knowing that what I was saying could happen.

Set higher expectations of your kids when you leave. This supports your spouse and gives each child an opportunity to grow in maturity.

Rule #3 - Assign extra individual jobs and chores for each child.

You know what areas are likely to fall by the wayside when you leave. You know because it is the things you most often do at home.

Remind them that they need to pick up their toys because mom has more jobs this week.

Assign them to unload the dishwasher every day because dad usually does that.

Using a travel trip to grow their responsibilities at home can seem like more work than it's worth. I promise you they are better off for it

Rule #4 - Hold the kids accountable and follow up when you return.

Kids are smart. They know that a good pep talk can be totally meaningless once you walk out the door.

The key is sitting down with them to revisit the time you were gone.

(*Better yet, talk to them on the phone while you're away and ask if they are doing what you have asked of them).

You can write it down and go over it with them or have them reflect back about how they treated your spouse and the family while you were away.

Following up with our kids shows them that the next time someone leaves it will be time to step up and serve the family again, not take full advantage of the situation.

Bonus - A Father to his Son

For the dads here, I often used my travel as an opportunity to develop some manhood characteristics in my son.

In our family of 5 there were are men in our home.

Starting when he was young, I told my son directly that since dad was gone, he was the man of the house for the time being. He needed to serve his mom and sisters.

He was to look out for them and be a good listener. It was his time to show courage & strength if that's what was needed.

I remember talking about this with him when he was 5 years old. I wanted him to know that the girls in our family were special and as men we cared for them.

I remember the look of uncertainty in his eyes about what I was talking about but I also saw his willingness to be brave while I was gone.

In conclusion...

Big idea: Being a man down at home is never ever easy. It is a unique opportunity though, to develop and reinforce maturity in the lives of your kids.


5 Things All Parents Need

Sissy Goff

"These are a few things I wish for all parents today. My hope is that you can have a little of each, even this week. Talking with others about which number is hardest right now helps too."

  1. Your own coping skills.
  2. A safe place to talk.
  3. Time away from your kids.
  4. A gentler voice.
  5. Things that bring you hope.


We're Better Together

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Family Friday Newsletter?

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