Coping as the non-traveling spouse
On occasion my spouse's job requires that she go on the road for a fews days and nights. Unique scenarios and problems can surface with the kids during these trips for me as the keeper of the gate. Rest assured your children will pick up on the fact that the good cop/bad cop is not in the picture and quickly change their strategy on misbehaving.
Because these occasions happen in our household at least 4 or 5 times a year I made the decision early on to try as hard as possible to maintain status quo … same easting schedule, same bath schedule and same bedtime schedule. Otherwise, the kids smell, "special occasion" and assume new rules apply.
As you know well routine is one of your best friends as a parent, that doesn't change because you are now alone on the watch for the a few days. You need routine on your side when you are standing alone in front of three eager faces plotting how they will extend bed time by a few minutes.
I am not advocating a ban on fun when mom or dad is away. In fact if Fridays nights are your pizza and video nights, continue with that routine. If Monday nights are soccer practice, do not look for an excuse to change the schedule. It's better for your children to learn that they can cope without mom around. As harsh as that sounds, it builds self confidence.
As discipline goes, do not pass the buck to your absent spouse ... as in "wait until your mother comes back." First of all it is not fair to mom who's unaware of the situation and doesn't want to come home to lower the ax upon her return. Most importantly, it isn't fair to you the resident boss. Even if you do not normally dish out punishment in your household, when you are the only grown up on the scene you have no choice but to immediately enforce the rules.
Times without mom can be trying but when managed with a positive attitude it can present the parent left behind with a learning experience. The time forces me to walk a mile in my wife's shoes ... I just keep trying to figure out how she gets those running shoes over her pumps?
Tim Bailey is the husband of a BlueSuitMom and the father of four.