Being in ministry means spending some time away from home. Whether it’s leading a camp, attending a conference, or traveling out-of-state to meet someone in person we all spend some extended time away from our loved ones. When those times come it’s important to have a plan so our family doesn’t feel like they’ve been left by the wayside of ministry. Here are 6 ways to care for family while away:
1. Spend extra time together before you go
It’s hard to be away from your family. But in a lot of ways it’s harder on your spouse and kids. One way to help everyone cope is to spend extra time together. That may include a day at your kids’ favorite amusement park, the beach or mountains, or some extra one-on-one time with each family member, including a special date night with your spouse. Whatever you decide make the time to spend extra time together before leaving.
2. Let them know how you can be reached
In these days of cell phones and iPads this may seem a little archaic but it’s still a good idea to give you spouse the contact info of where you’ll be staying, going, and a run down of what you’ll be doing. It’s not uncommon for reception to be spotty, WiFi to be down, or camps and retreat centers to not have coverage. You never want your spouse to have to scramble in the event of an emergency. Get it down and give it to them as soon as you can.
3. Get things done before you go
Take it upon yourself to make sure your household responsibilities are covered while you’re gone. That may mean calling the gardener, cleaning out the garage, or running some extra errands a day or two before you go. Do what you can to lighten the load your spouse will have to pick up while your gone.
4. Call once a day
Make each day you’re away to check in with your spouse . It doesn’t have to be for very long but the effort to call in lets your spouse know you haven’t forgotten about them or the kids. This can be a little tricky if you’re at a camp but it’ll mean the world to them if you can check-in at least once or twice.
5. Leave something special behind
I love it whenever my wife packs notes or special treats in my bag for when I’m away. Your spouse will LOVE it if leave an extra note or gift for them behind. It’s a tangible reminder of your love and affection for them they will treasure long after your trip is over. Admittedly I am bad at doing this but I include it as a reminder to us guys to step it up in this area.
6. Spend extra time together when you get back
Getting back from a trip, long or short, always feels good. Whether things went great or fell apart while you were away there’s nothing like being back home. Take some time to hear all about what happened in your family’s life while you were gone. Spend time catching up and doing something fun all of you enjoy before heading back into the normal grind (and see about squeezing in a nap or three, too).
Being away from your family for extended periods of time is never easy, but sometimes it is necessary. Having a good plan in place will help everyone cope with the disruption to their normal rhythm in a healthy way. When you spend extra time together before and after you leave, let them know how to best get a hold of you, cover your responsibilities while gone, call to check-in, and leave something special behind your family will feel how much yo love and value them.