Overtime Parenting: A Medal to the Mom Whose Partner Travels

We’ve all been there: “Mommed” out after a day of too much whining or too many tantrums, glad to have an extra pair of hands around the house after work/golf/happy hour (take your pick).

This pair of hands is likely hairier than yours, belong to someone with a deep voice, and a Y chromosome, who helped create said tantrum throwers. 

As a stay-at-home-mom, we’re excited for our partners to come home. Excited for a sentence or 2 of uninterrupted adult conversation and to tell them about our riveting day… And then it happens: You’ve repeated yourself, like 3 times, hairy hands hasn’t looked up from his phone, and you silently scream and think to yourself something along the lines of “I parented alone all day today, and I basically still am…. What’s the point of you being here if you aren’t present?!” And for the record, that “present” word is a war starter in my household… yikes. But don’t lie, we’ve all thought something along those lines and if you say you haven’t, you’re wearing rose colored glasses and you’re lying.

The caveat in my family in this regard is “be careful what you wish for.” You see, my husband travels for work. For the last six years, every week, for at least 3 nights, he’s in a different state then we are. So when I’m approaching that moment where I’m getting irritated and wondering “why are you even here if you aren’t going to help,” I try as hard as I can to not let myself get there, because a lot of the time he’s not there and that’s a whole different ballgame.

Now let me just throw out there that I’m married to one of the most driven, hard-working people I have ever met. He provides for us more than we deserve. His phone starts ringing the minute he gets up and doesn’t stop until long after our son is asleep. He comes home on Thursday evenings exhausted from airports, rental car shuttles, and commuting to the west coast to go to work, so it would be selfish to think of myself as anything other than a lucky lady in this situation.

However, I recently heard the term “Overtime Parenting” for the first time and was immediately intrigued.

To make it simple, Overtime Parenting is having a spouse who routinely isn’t home right at 5 pm to hand the baton off to after your day. Whether it’s a couple of late nights at work or a week working in LA, overtime parenting is being the sole parent from morning wake ups and waffles, to baths and bedtime stories. (This in no way shape or form should be confused with Single Parenting, which I have the utmost respect for and want to hug each of you as tight as I can and tell you that you are incredible.)

Now sure, this may sound glitzy. Waiting on the front porch for our very handsome, jet setter hubby/daddy to get home each week in his tailored suit… Let me assure you, it’s far from. Earlier this month my husband was home for such a short time between trips, we sadly joked he had a “layover in Denver.”

Being reunited week after week doesn’t get old, but our situation means that from sun up to sun down, Monday-Thursday, I am the sole parent. 

Tantrum at 7 am because we can’t eat fruit snacks for breakfast? I’m handling it (and obviously trying to ruin my kid’s life). Short nap for the 3rd day in a row? Me. I’m wiping the boogers. I’m negotiating 5 more bites of veggies. I’m doing bedtime with the king of stalling, then cleaning the house up from our day. 

And as much as we get out and do activities and have classes and play with friends, it’s those in between moments that are the hardest. That stretch from nap time to bedtime when it’s pouring rain and you’re all feeling cooped up and you’re out of Pinterest perfect craft ideas.

There are days where I may not have 1 minute of help parenting from the minute I wake up to the minute I close my eyes at night. Not one. There are lots of these days and they are usually right in a row and they are hard. It’s all me. All day. No help. 

Now, again, I am in no way shape or form a victim here, but I think until you are alone for a few days on end, you don’t know what it’s really like. Sometimes at the end of long trips and busy travel months, I feel like a badass. An exhausted badass, but a badass none-the-less. One who had no choice but to power through and is doing the best she can at momming and making sure her kid will eat food besides just animal crackers.

I challenge you moms who have a partner who comes home at 5 pm every night from work: next time your spouse leaves for a weekend, remember how exhausted you are at the end of it. Not necessarily because your kids were ill behaved, but simply because it was all you, all day. Now imagine doing that every week.

So if you happen to know a mom who’s partner travels, cut her a little bit of slack.  Maybe pour a little extra wine in her glass on those days she’s in the thick of parenting on her own.

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7 Responses to Overtime Parenting: A Medal to the Mom Whose Partner Travels

  1. Tracey September 20, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

    Loved the article! Overtime parenting – fab phrase and nails the feeling 100%

    I’m also glad your gave a shout out to single parents 😊

  2. Melanie Stephens September 7, 2017 at 6:41 am #

    I appreciate this article and echo you sentiments! Well said! Thank you!

  3. Kristin Dickson September 6, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

    Every parent has their struggles – whether it is single, overtime, or shared parenting by two spouses that both work full time. Most of us have healthy children and a living wage, and for that, we are beyond privileged and lucky. You do not need extra wine or extra rewards for having the physical and financial ability to stay home with your children.

    • Elizabeth September 13, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

      We all deserve extra wine and extra rewards. Regardless of employment, financial situation, or marital status, motherhood is TOUGH. For this writer and for me, doing it when half your team is out of town is tougher. (I stay home but work full time from home — the writer’s bio also suggests she works from home). We’re all privileged just to be mothers, so let’s support each other and our different experiences.

    • NoCo Dad September 18, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

      Spot on, Kristin.
      I think genuine support of mothers is keeping focused towards those with unchosen difficult challenges, often without a safety net.
      I’m a Dad, though, and feel we have comparatively low societal expectations for fathers, which is often reflected in how priorities are structured. I challenge all of us to create and expect fathers as truly engaged co-parents.

  4. Crissy September 5, 2017 at 7:46 pm #

    I work part-time but am right there with you with the traveling hubby!! My husband is amazing and I am so blessed that he is such a good provider, but we are definitely in the same boat. He had to leave to go out of town 1 week after our second was born (joined the 2 under 2 group)…but honestly, because him traveling is my reality, I was ok with it because I just wanted to figure out our new normal! This was spot on…good job mommy!

  5. Amanda Maxwell September 5, 2017 at 8:23 am #

    You took the words right out of my mouth. I didn’t know Chris traveled so much- we are in the exact same boat sister!! I get it. You are doing such a good job!

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