Whether your partner stays at home or works, when you go out of town, it causes stress. Some of that stress is real and some of it is imagined (“What if the baby gets sick?” or “What if I have a meeting that runs late and I can’t make it to day care on time?”), but if you’re the one leaving, even if the trip is not your choice, even if the trip is essential to providing for your family, even if the trip itself is a lot more stressful than staying home with the kid(s) would be, you can be a good guy (or gal if the situation is reversed), earn brownie points and make your partner feel loved by doing these seven things.
1. Do the housework.
Anything you can get ahead on helps. If your wife (or spouse or partner) is having a hard time managing everything on her or his own, having a clean kitchen and bathroom to start from really helps. And don’t you dare say a word if it’s a mess when you get back.
2. Assist with a backup plan.
Help your wife out by securing someone they can call if work runs late or one of your two children has an emergency, for example. Her parents may be a good option if they’re nearby, otherwise, think about asking a friend. It’s not a huge commitment, it’s just saying, “Hey, I’m going to be out of town and (your spouse) is going to be on their own. Can you keep an eye on your phone in case there’s an emergency, since I won’t be able to get there?” It’s so incredibly unlikely that that person will be called upon, but knowing there’s someone who has agreed to be called will definitely alleviate some stress.
3. Check in on money.
Don’t leave your spouse with $5 in checking and a bottle of mustard on the fridge. Even if you think everything’s okay, just ask: “do you need any extra money?” It may be that an extra $50 in a drawer somewhere adds peace of mind, or that cash for pizza or some other service would help a lot — they’re likely not going to have time to get to an ATM.
4. Go shopping, or let them go shopping if they prefer it.
Set your spouse up with a full fridge, all the diapers, all the paper towels, all the toilet paper and baby food and baby wipes and emergency ice cream they need. If they prefer to do the shopping, offer to watch the kid(s) while they do it, and make a plan to do so. Bring it up a day or two in advance.
Or have sex. Or binge watch Netflix. Whatever you two like to do together to feel close, make sure you get a chance to do it before you go. This helps keep your spouse or partner from feeling abandoned and will make you feel closer when you are away.
6. Be clear about the plans.
The plans include what time you’re leaving, what your flight number is, where you’re staying, whether you plan to call when you get there, how long you’ll be gone (duh), how often you think you will call, what number your flight home is and when you think you’ll actually walk in the door. All these details are important for emergencies, as well as ensuring that your spouse isn’t lying in bed at night thinking “why didn’t that jack wagon call me?” Be clear, follow through, and call or text or email or fax or carrier pigeon if there’s going to be a change of plans.
7. An hour before you go, ask, “What can I do?”
And be prepared to do whatever it is. It may be a backrub or a lightbulb or a “can you get this out of my car.” It may just be “Give me a kiss.” Wouldn’t that be nice? Bon voyage to you.
Be sure to send this to a dad you know, and comment below if you have more tips for traveling dads!