How to Survive Being Away from Your Family and Kids for Work

2017 has found me in a much different situation than anything I have experienced. I am 46, soon to be 47 in November, and I am for the first time working in a different state from where I live. My family resides in Franklin, TN while I am currently working in Salt Lake City, UT. Not exactly how I would have planned things, but it is nonetheless where I find myself. One thing I know for sure is that I am in the center of God’s will, and that is absolutely the best place to be no matter what the circumstances are. However, it does present it’s challenges, and there are many.

Beginning January 2, 2017, I started commuting from Franklin, TN to Salt Lake City, UT for my new COO gig with Financially Fit. In my previous position with Dave Ramsey, travel was very limited with only 2-3 trips per year. Now, I travel 2-3 weeks a month. Normally, I begin my commute early Monday morning with my lovely wife dropping me off at the airport around 5:30 AM. After a long week, she picks me up Friday night around 9:30 PM where we then finish off the evening with a rather late night out. With 6 kids at home from ages 5-17, it can be a little difficult to say the least. My wonderful wife has done an amazing job holding down the fort and keeping the insanity of our lives in balance…if there is such a thing with 6 kids. 🙂

As a husband, father and professional, this new lifestyle is requiring to me step up and adjust my game. Not to mention my new company is a startup which presents all sorts of challenges. The stakes are extremely high. Employees depending on my doing a good job…long hours of the startup. 6 little lives depend on me doing a good job as a father, and 1 amazing woman depending on me as well. Demanding? Yes. Challenging? Absolutely. Impossible? No.

So here’s how I’ve adjusted my parenting, husbanding, and professional game. I’m just beginning, but I’m happy with the results so far.

  1. Be Intentional. Whether its work, the kids or your spouse, be intentional. Don’t let any time slip away from you. When I’m home on the weekends, I start early and end late. Cooking Saturday morning breakfast with my girls. Yard work our projects with my boys. Campfires and smores. Taking the kids to school every morning and putting them to bed every evening. As soon as I get off the plane Friday evening, its spouse time. A late night snack, dessert or a movie, she gets my full attention. Whether I’m in Salt Lake City at work or in Nashville, focused intensity is the most important thing. My Salt Lake work schedule is typically 8:00 AM till 10:00 PM. I like it that way and I keep my life simple. No TV. No distractions. My Nashville schedule is a little different. Work starts at 8:00 and goes till 5 or 6, with a dinner and family break from 6-10, then the day closes out with a little work from 10-11. This week, I’ll be sending my first surprise “care package” home to the kids and my wife, being sure to leverage Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages in the notes and gifts I send everyone.
  2. Keep Life Fun. I’m probably more focused on fun family time and keeping life exciting that I ever have been. When I’m home, we’re always finding fun things to do on the weekends or during the week. Cooking together. Walking the neighborhood. Spring break to Salt Lake City for snowboarding. Family games like Mafia, Pokemon, etc. Anything the kids enjoy is fair game.
  3. Cut Back the Distractions. Since I am spending a lot of time in Salt Lake City, I want the time away from my family to count. I’ve chosen a simple lifestyle. No car. No TV. No frills lifestyle. It’s allowed me to keep my thoughts much more clear and stay more focused on productivity than every before. The clarity and direction I see now is extremely refreshing, and I’ve found it to help me be even more focused and productive when I’m at home with my family.

2017 has been an interesting journey so far and I have plenty to learn before I can say I’ve figured it out.

A Marital Lesson Learned

October 3rd, 2008 will mark the completion of 10 wonderful, joy filled, adventurous and at times challenging years of marriage. As everyone that’s been married a while knows, there are ups and downs. I’m fortunate to be married to my perfect match. : )

Monday night I was working late with our team doing a presentation to our executive team. Unfortunately, I had a family conflict that caused my wife to run late for an appointment with the ladies leadership team at church. I arrived home around 6:45 PM, about 45 minutes later than normal. I thought I had communicated effectively that I may need to work late. Later that night to my chagrin, I realized that we hadn’t quite been on the same page.

What seemed to me a run of the mill issue was so much more to my wife. I had heard that men are often baffled by the seemingly illogical emotions of their wives. Well, after almost 10 years, I finally got a taste of it. I’ve been blessed for Beth to share her emotions with me before, but on this night, my logic served no purpose. It truly was the first time in our marriage that we had reached this point where it just boiled down to something that was really important to her that I had no control over. It’s odd how we as men can feel attacked and defensive in those moments. Our natural reaction is amazingly not the right one. Or at least it wasn’t for me that night. Honestly, I must say that I’m a bit spoiled. We worked out, and today she got flowers.

Beth and I are blessed to have a wonderful communication style, and we rarely have arguments. The occasional argument we do have usually lasts about 15 minutes. We were very fortunate early on to attend a pre-marital class. This class gave us some invaluable tools that helped us through our first 5 years of marriage and continue to serve us well. Here are few breakdowns of some things we have learned and used.

  1. Every year, do something to improve your marriage. We’ve tried to either read a book, attend a class or a retreat each year. With these tools, we’ve been able to improve specific areas of our marriage over time. Family Life Marriage Conference, Family Dynamics
  2. When you are angry and arguing with your partner, hold hands. This has been a crazy great tool for our marriage. It’s extremely hard to be mad and yell at a person you’re holding hands with. I must confess, when I’ve suggested it, Beth hasn’t been to happy about it. She can be a real fireball. 😉
  3. Talk and listen. Learn to have deep conversations with your spouse. Many marriages never really hit this as a standard. Instead, they operate mostly on a superficial level without ever reaching that 4th level of communication. We recently attended a class that addressed this. Real Relationships

My lessons for the evening. It pays to prepare so that when you have moments like these in your marriage, you are somewhat prepared. It’s easy to really mess up. A potential nightmare ended up being a 15 minute communication breakdown discussion…and how we could both do better in the future.