In talking with my friends (read: whining and bellyaching), I hear that we got quite the introduction to boat life. When we got here in March, my sweet husband left immediately to get underway for a month. He came home for about a week and went to drydock for 72 days. After drydock, was home for 2.5 weeks and gone again. It's certainly not the schedule we were anticipating going to a small-ish boat. Frankly there has been no "schedule" to anticipate, just a lot of alleged, suggested timing. (insert crooked eyebrow here.)
Frankly, I've done all right. I have some sweet troopers for kiddos. They are so resilient. Sure, they ask for Daddy, and they certainly miss him, but they take it in stride when I tell them that Daddy's on the boat. I've successfully fed us every day, gotten us dressed most days, and I've not been a blubbering mess or anything like that.
This boat life - with its less than sensitive hazing period - has given me a different perspective on some things, though. Nothing like a stressful life change to provide a paradigm shift. The following generalizations are things that I have found for myself. I URGE others in my position to really contemplate these things. Don't find out the hard way.
1) Whether your s/o is home or not, find time for yourself. It is incredibly demoralizing to realize that you are no longer YOU, but a short order cook, housekeeper, and diaper changer. Don't lose sight of who you are underneath all of it. Search out a Mommy's Day Out, take advantage of people that offer to watch the kids, pay a babysitter or mommy's helper if you can. The important thing is remember what makes you who you are, and let her shine every once in a while.
2) Get your hair cut. Even trimmed. There's something cathartic about having someone else scrub your hair and rinse it. There is nothing so refreshing to me as having my hair cut.
3) Keep your brain active. Sure, it's active all the time, but keep it busy. Go Diego Go and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse are not sufficient. Laurie Berkner and Dan Zanes are cool, but don't forget to find music that is enticing to you, as well. Read a real book, flip through a magazine, enroll in online courses.
4) Find a pal. This one I'm still working on. If you know me, you know that I have true friends all over the United States. Many I have never met personally, but I know them like family. Most I talk to more often than members of my family. As fantastic as they are, I need a pal. I need someone closeby that I can call for a hug, a get together, etc. I love my friends, but I'm feeling really lost in a town of 200,000 people. I know how to get places, but I am exceedingly lonely. Truth be told, "Southern Hospitality" isn't always what it's cracked up to be.
These things apply whether you are living boat life, shore life, airstation life or even civilian life. These are things that are important whether you have children or not. I urge all of us to remember that we are valuable and we have to take care of ourselves - on many levels.
If you're all ready doing these things, KUDOS to you. If you have other suggestions, let's hear 'em! Learning this business the hard way isn't for the faint of heart. I suppose, though, that nothing about being part of this Coastie family is for the faint of heart.