Today’s episode is a special solo edition where I dive into the challenges and triumphs of families living this unique lifestyle. I explore the possibility of balancing work passion with a happy family life, and I share a few inspirational stories of families who are successfully doing just that. From strategies for self-care and parenting together, to maintaining long-distance relationships and managing transitions, I cover the essential pillars for making this lifestyle work. Plus, I touch on the good reasons families choose this path.. So, join me as we delve into navigating the world of work travel and living abroad while holding down the fort at home.
You Will Learn:
- 01:10 – You are not alone.
- 05:18 – Focusing on the 5 Foundational Pillars for this very specific lifestyle.
- 11:20 – Write down why it makes sense for your family
Buy the Book:
Buy your personal copy of Holding the Fort Abroad or buy it as a gift for someone you know.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:00:03]:
Welcome to Holding the Fort Abroad, the podcast about frequent business travel and working away from home. My name is Rhoda Bangerter, and I help parents who have a partner who travels a lot for work. I help them manage the stress and disconnect from living this life so that they can enjoy the growth and intention this lifestyle can bring. And today I'm kicking off solo episodes, which will be alternating with interviews. A while back, a friend of mine wrote to me, and she said, you know, most of the time in shows and movies, when someone's traveling a lot or is away from home a lot, they usually then realize that their family is more important and they stop traveling or being away. And she said to me, what you're saying is that it's possible to travel for work, have the passion, maybe that takes you away from home and be a happy family as well. And she said, I think that really needs to be represented. And I totally agree with her.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:01:10]:
That is exactly my message. And I want to showcase the families who are doing it and who are successfully doing it. And I want to help those who are struggling with this lifestyle. It's a very specific lifestyle. Earlier today, I was looking at an article from. It was an interview of Olivia Coleman. She's a famous british actress. She's been in many movies.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:01:40]:
And she said, I'm away from home a lot. I miss the kids. And if it wasn't for my husband, who's holding the fort - She didn't use those words - but who's managing home, managing the parenting, being there on a daily basis, this would not be possible. But they've been maintaining a thriving family life for 20 years. It is possible. And that really is my main message for you today. Many families live this.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:02:18]:
You may feel like you're the only one that is always alone at the parent teacher meetings or at events or who's sick with a young child and your partner's miles away, you are not alone. Someone was just sharing with me today how she was alone in the middle of winter, in the first trimester of a pregnancy, and with a toddler. And it's not easy. I just want you to know that there are many families doing this. And yes, it does take intention and very specific strategies, and those are what I want to share with you. You'll see also in previous episodes of my podcast. For example, you can check out the one with Florence Reisch. She and her husband lived in different countries for seven years total.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:03:10]:
She agreed to three years. Then it added on more years, and it was seven years. She has some fabulous strategies to share. And she really prepared that time. And I think preparing the time is if you know that you're going to be a part for a while, then that's super important. You can listen to one of the most recent ones, Annaju. She's the daughter of someone who traveled a lot and who actually is still traveling. And I asked her specifically, do you resent your dad that he was gone so much? And she said no.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:03:44]:
She says, I have little parts, little moments when I was resentful, but on the whole, as the big picture, no. But when you look into it a little bit more deeper, you see that there were things that were in place that helped maintain family life. In many other episodes. You'll see I interview psychologists, therapists, coaches, and they share strategies. And what I'm looking for is strategies that can be applied to this lifestyle. Because a strategy where it's just not possible because your husband or your wife is gone, well, that's not really going to be useful. But something where you can actually apply it and do it even if you're miles apart, that is the useful thing. So that's what I'm going to be sharing with you.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:04:37]:
From the very beginning of my relationship with my now husband, there have been many times we live geographically apart, we even dated long distance. And then he was gone a few weeks at a time, usually to war zones or places with a humanitarian crisis. A few years after that, he was gone Monday to Fridays. We did that for at least a year. And then a few years ago, as my husband was living in Kabul, I was living in ban. I wrote the book holding the fort abroad. And if you haven't read the book, I encourage you to get a copy. And there are lots of strategies in there.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:05:18]:
From the families I've spoken to, from my own experience, from the studies I've read, I believe you need five pillars to make this life work, because it's high intensity, big emotions. You have to be quick on your feet, adapting to your partner, being there, not being there. Plans need to be adjusted and you might even be living this and in the same time discussing your next posting or your partner's next posting. So pillar number one is your own self care and self development. Normal, average self care that most people do. It's not going to cut it with this lifestyle.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:06:36]:
If you're burnt out, if you're getting exhausted, it's not going to work. Sometimes resentment then comes in. You're struggling to find ways of following your own passion. You might feel stuck. Your own self care, your own self development, putting things in place, a team in place, making sure you've got the right help, and getting unstuck for your own personal projects. Pillar number two is parenting together. And the danger here is really that the person who's away disconnects from the family little by little.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:07:18]:
And as the children grow older, that they lose the contact with that parent. And it's just so important to be intentional. The third pillar is long distance relationship. Again, couples can grow apart. That's true even if they're under the same roof, even more so if you're in different places or if your partner always has a suitcase by the door. As I say, to be intentional. My husband and I really worked on our friendship when we couldn't be together. At times it even helps us talk about subjects that we may not have talked about.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:08:02]:
And this has also come up a lot with people I talk to. They tell me that they have actually deepened their relationship. It's gotten them out of ruts, but again, it takes that intention. Number four is managing the transitions that come with this life. For example, a very common one is when the husband or the wife or the partner comes home, maybe, well, if they're home just a weekend, that's a very short time to reconnect. And sometimes it's just laundry and logistics and there might be an event, and then, boof, they're off again. And that time is really short. If they're gone six months or three months or a year and they come back, that's a whole other ballgame of getting back into the family.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:08:50]:
And again, there are strategies, for example, you keeping them in the loop, sharing the jokes with them, because at one point my husband was like, you have in jokes? I don't understand them because he wasn't there. It's one of those jokes where you say you had to be there. Well, those are really important, and there are strategies there. Number five is being prepared for emergencies, and if your partner is working in dangerous locations there. Again, I'll be sharing. But really mainly today, I just wanted to highlight these five pillars. Self care, self development, parenting together, and then each one with one on ones, being a couple together, even with miles apart, the transitions and then dealing with emergencies, because it always happens when they're away. Something's broken, a child is sick, and sometimes they can accumulate.
The last thing I wanted to say today is that families have good reasons to choose this lifestyle, either split location or frequent business travel.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:10:08]:
From my experience from families that I've spoken with, usually it's because it's a dream job and a passion. For example, for split location, they want to it's children's education, maybe being closer to aging parents. And for us, we've accumulated all those reasons. If you are a geographically split family, I would encourage you to list the reasons that you chose this. Put it on paper when things get tough or a family member questions you, then you have that list to hang on to. You have good reasons. If you feel you were forced into it, then tune into my next episode. I promise we'll cover that and what you can do that will help.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:11:20]:
It might still be useful for you to write the reasons why split location makes sense for your family. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Please share it. If you know someone would be encouraged by it, please leave a review on the platform on the app where you're listening. This helps others find the show and know how it can help encourage them. In my next solo episode, I'll be talking about the partner who is at home with the children, the 24/7 parent, the one who's on call. If you have any questions for me, let me know on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.
Rhoda Bangerter [00:12:05]:
Wherever you are, wherever your partner is, remember you are not alone. Thank you for listening.
Rhoda Bangerter is a coach who has lived abroad with a travelling husband for over 16 years. She helps home based mums and dads live an intentional life and build family togetherness even when their partner is away a lot for work.