One of the most common questions truck drivers (and their families) have when beginning a new career is how to juggle home time. Because home time is never the same, it can be helpful to know some basic tips for making the most of your time off the clock. Rebecca shares some of her tips for taking advantage of home time in this post.
This is a topic that I find to be very important to not only the spouse of the trucker but the truckers themselves. If you have children then making the most out of home time is important to them as well. Making the most out of home time is very important to everyone that is involved. Being a trucker is not an easy job and when they do get to spend some time at home it should be enjoyable. It does not matter if your trucker has been gone a week or several weeks, you don't want to overwhelm them.
I will tell you that I had a hard time at first adjusting to things when my trucker was gone and then readjusting to things when he was home. When my trucker first started driving, he would not be home very often. Because he was not home very often I would expect him to get the things done around the house that needed to be done that I was unable to do. This did not work for us at all because he was not getting any rest and we were not getting any quality time together as a family. It is not about how much you can get done, it's about how much quality time you get together.
What Works for Us
As time has gone by, I have found that there are a few different ways of making the most out of your trucker's time at home. Here are a few ways that I have found that works best for our family.
Letting my husband rest and get some sleep if needed the first day that he is home. He will sleep for a few hours when he first gets home then he will get up a few hours before the kids go to bed so he can spend some time with the kids. Then when the children go to bed that is when we get to spend time together just the two of us.
The following day will be the day that we spend together as a family. Family time could be anything from watching a movie, taking the kids to the park or playing a board game together. My husband tries to do something that everyone can do and will make everyone happy.
I have also found that having our dinner meal planned out and ready to cook also helps with the work and home time transition for both my trucker and the family. This is one less thing that my trucker will have to worry about. Though, he loves to cook so sometimes he'll prepare dinner for the family when he's home. This is a nice treat for me.
I also try my best to not have any doctor appointments that the children have to attend. If for some reason I have to schedule an appointment on a day that my trucker will be home I do not expect him to go with me. This can also be a time that he can sleep better since the house will be quiet.
Planning vs. Taking Things as They Come
I have found that trying to plan everything is a big headache because things never really go as planned. Trying to keep to a plan is also very hard because you never know what may come up. For the most part we take things as they come. There are some things that we do plan, such as birthday parties and outings with the children. We will also still try and stick to the children’s bedtimes but even with that we may go past their bedtime by about thirty minutes.
Things That DO Need to Be Planned
One of the best things that I feel that we do for the children is my husband will take a different child out for a few hours each time he comes home. This helps him keep their father and son/daughter connection.
Something else that we have started doing is planning the children’s birthday parties for a day that he is going to be home. My husband was out on the road when it was our son's 4th birthday and our daughter's 7th birthday. So I sent cupcakes to school with our daughter and I spent the day with our son doing things that he liked while his sisters were in school. Then I planned a party for them when I knew that my husband was going to be home. My husband was able to be home a few hours on his stepdaughters 9th birthday so he took her to see a movie that she wanted to see. Then when he came home and was here for a few days, we had her party. I found that this will help your trucker still feel a part of the family.
Family Vacations & How We Handle Them
I have been asked many times how are we going to have a family vacation this year. A few years ago we started taking a week or so to get away just as a family. This year will be a little different for us because we will not really have the time and/or the money to get away for a week or so.
Because I know this ahead of time we have done A LOT of thinking about what we can do so everyone can have a great summer. This is what we have come up with: We will not take just one full week for our family vacation. What we are going to do is plan on taking a lot of mini trips. When I know that my husband will be home for a day or two we will plan a trip to the mountains, the lake, the local theme park and many other places that we can make into an overnight or day trip.
For the days that he will not be home, the children and I can take the longer road trips like going to the beach or even back to the mountains so we can stay a few more days. We are doing it this way this year so that everyone will have a great summer and by doing this we do not have to give up our family vacation. So just because your trucker does not have vacation time do not think that you have to give up your vacations together.