Being a parent can be challenging. Being an over the road truck driver is an exciting career, but it keeps you away from home for long periods of time. Trying to parent from the road can seem like an almost impossible situation. However, many people manage to continue truck driving with a family at home, it just takes some adjustment and experience. These strategies can help you continue to be an active and involved parent while working as a trucker.
The Challenges of Being a Truck Driver and Parent
If you are working as a truck driver, you are spending significant time away from home. At times, this can make it feel like you are an outsider when you see your family. They are living their lives and making memories together while you are away. Sometimes you will miss special events such as birthdays or recitals.
These problems are most noticeable for over-the-road drivers. However, anyone working in truck driving with a child can experience them. Unless you are only driving short, daytime routes around your home, you are going to spend some nights away from your family.
This can be more than just an issue for your relationship with your child(ren). Many truck drivers have difficulties with their spouses or significant others. Your partner is at home taking care of the house and kids while you are away. Even if that arrangement makes practical sense for your family, it can be emotionally draining for both partners.
You may also be dealing with a co-parent that you are separated from. This can add its own unique challenges for getting time to spend with your kid(s).
At times, it can feel like an uphill battle. You have to keep working to earn a living and provide for your family, however by working as a trucker you are also separated from them. Fortunately, a few strategies and some helpful, modern tools can empower you to take on this problem.
Make the Most of Time at Home
When you get home after being away, it can be tempting to put your feet up. While you should also take care of yourself, don’t squander the opportunity to spend time with your family.
One of the best ways to do this is to take an interest in what your kids are doing. Perhaps they have new hobbies that you could enjoy together. Finding things to bond over, especially activities that you can talk about, is a powerful way to maintain your connection with your kids while you are away.
You can also get them involved with what you do. Kids often love trucks and may think that life on the road is very cool and exciting. Let them express that excitement and interest. Consider letting them (and your spouse) come in your truck with you. Depending on their age, they may even be able to come on a short route with you.
Try giving your kids and map and showing them where you will be. You could set up a system that lets them track your position by placing pins in the map. This is a great way to keep your kids engaged with your travels while you are away.
Give Them an Assignment
Consider giving your children an assignment while you are away. This could be helping around the house, reaching a goal in a hobby, working on a project that you have shared or anything else. Select something age-appropriate that they can realistically achieve. It is a great way to teach planning and responsibility. It can also serve as a way to stay connected while you are on the road.
For older kids, try making a system for chores around the house. That way they are consistently helping out. This is an effective way to provide some extra support to your partner while also parenting your children.
Make sure that you call home on a regular basis. This may seem like an obvious tip, but it is so important that is bears mentioning anyway. Strive to call daily and check in. There may be some days when that is difficult, but this routine is one of the more effective ways to handle truck driving with a family.
You can update your kids on your progress and tell them a little about where you have been. Consider noting down some interesting observations or taking some photos when possible to share with them. Even things that seem boring to you can be exciting for kids, especially young ones.
Don’t forget to ask them about their lives as well. Talk about sports, activities, games, hobbies and anything else. They will really appreciate those conversations. Even if you only speak long enough to say “hello” and check-in, regular phone calls can make all the difference in the world.
Using video calls is a great way to expand on this. It gives everyone a chance to see each other’s faces, even if only remotely.
The short version of parenting on the road is that you need to stay active. Check-in with your family regularly and find ways to bond even when you aren’t at home. You can also keep an eye out for a new trucking job that allows for more home time.