A little advice:
This may seem like common sense, but I wanted to remind parents NOT TO EVER use your children against your spouse!
Let me take a step back to right before we moved across the country for my wife to go to school. Before starting school, she would always do all the "motherly" things for the kids and the family. Not only that, but she would also frequently take the kids out on hikes, take them out on dirt trails to practice riding bikes, take them skiing, have special "Mommy Dates" with each kid individually, the list goes on…
And she still is an amazing Mom...the difference is that now she has just very little time to spend with them.
Ok. So now that she's in school.
Not only has moving across the country made the kids very emotional and sad about leaving all their friends behind (8 months after the move, it is still is bummin' out our son), but now the kids are also missing the mother that they knew. They are no longer able to do all the fun things and spend the same amount of time with her as they could before school started. So you can imagine how they must feel...and my wife feels worse.
PLANNING OUR "FAMILY TIME"
Before school started, we can up with a plan to fit a little bit of "Family Time" into each day and each week.
TV/Movies: One day we may have time to watch 2 kids shows or a Movie. In that case, the kids each get their own "cuddle time" with mommy....switching half way through :)
BOARD GAMES: We have family game nights when she has more time to spend with us. Nothing like seeing a BRAIN-FRIED SRNA get really confused during a simple game of Memory (something about "not having any brain cells left"???)
SPORTS: The kids are very lucky to be able to participate in the sports they love (Thanks Grandma!) We often count their practices and games as family time if her schedule allows her to make it. She does really well at trying to work around the sporting events and music lessons because it is very important our family to support each other.
When things are VERY BUSY we may only get hugs and kisses in the morning and at night.
When this is the case, the kids are in bed either still sleeping or falling asleep. But she will often try and call them if she cannot physically see them that day. If she can't call, she will send me a sweet text message that the kids read out loud to each other. No matter what, we always strive for POSITIVE moments (even if it just for a minute)...that still makes a POSITIVE memory!
- When my wife is sad about missing time with the family, I reassure her that she is doing an AMAZING job at balancing everything! I let her know how AWESOME she is doing, before she is even able to be sad about it. I frequently remind her how she is an inspiration to our kids and is teaching them to always follow their dreams....even if it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to get there.
- When she breaks down and blames herself about how this situation is affecting our family, I remind her that this was our family's decision, not just hers. I always try to have words of encouragement, no matter what (she needs it!!).
- And most importantly, DO NOT even hint to your spouse they are not being a good parent or use your kids against your spouse in any way! Also, avoid making snub comments about their parenting when you are talking with friends or family. This will only cause (unnecessary) negativity between you and your spouse, which your children may pick up on!
Make that extra effort to focus on the POSITIVES (especially during the hardest moments). Not only for them, but also for yourself!! (you're going through this too!)
A Little Food For Thought:
Honestly, this helps me realize that my spouse is a much better person and parent than I am!
When she becomes a CRNA, she will be giving the children HOPE that one day (if they work hard like Mom/Dad) that they will be able to achieve their Dreams.
As a parent, that is the STRONGEST message you can ever send to your children!
I also remind them before she gets home on a late night, "Mommy is going to come in and give you a hug and a kiss when she gets home!!"
When they are sad about not seeing Mommy for a day (or three days in a row), I remind them why mommy is doing this and that she misses them and loves them very very much.
If that doesn't help...... I crank up some country music, sing loud and crazy, and make a fool of myself!
Once I get them to smile and laugh again, we make it into a positive project. They will often make cards for mommy, telling her how much they love her, how inspirational she is, or what an amazing job she is doing.
Then we lay the cards on her pillow or on her desk :)
They anxiously look forward to the huge smile on their mommy’s face and the big hugs when she gets home. (Her reaction to the cards and how she thanks the kids is what I love the most!) Now the kids make cards on their own without me even saying anything!
Before a big exam they would hear me wish my wife "good luck" as she leaves. Now they do it, too!
Your kids are always watching and learning from you so make the most of it!
Now the kids are learning to find the POSITIVES, too… When deciding what to do for Family Time last week (after my wife had a hard and crazy week of studying and clinicals), Cadence said, “We can watch a movie tonight for Family time! Even if Mommy just sleeps through it, at least she is with us!”