The summer is coming to an end, and while friends & family make plans for the last summer long weekend adventures camping, hiking and adventuring together, I’m hit with a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and grief over my families lack of “normality.” This FOMO hits me strong all summer because I just want to be that family camping the weekend away.
One of the shittiest parts of my husband’s job working as a conductor/engineer is the lack of weekends. There are a few totally awesome parts about working for the railway, but this one thing nags on me every single summer. W hile everyone else is camping the weekend away, we’re not. We’re just living life the same-old same-old.
Every so many miles, it’s about 10-12 days, they do earn an EO and can take up to 48 hours rest instead of the typical maximum 24 hours. But 48 hours does not compare to the typical 60 hour weekend regular workers get.
What to do without weekends?
I struggle with the lack of weekends because I love adventures, camping, and travel. Without traditional weekends, it makes planning these seemingly ordinary family adventures difficult. There’s very few days at the lake, weekends at a campsite, or even hiking outside of cell reception.
My husband tried to make his miles, but that’s a double-edged sword. In trying to make his miles for the month, he worked his tail off and I never saw him. These long stretches of solo parenting drove me to the brink of a tiny mental break down. Working that much wasn’t worth the meagre 2 days off he earned at the end of the month. It wasn’t even long enough to go camping with the kids.
Go Without Him.
I’m a huge champion to just do the adventure solo.
I do it all the time from trips to Vancouver, to just tackling every day living.
There’s no point to stop living because your husband’s job means he’s never home. If you never leave the house, or go on the adventure, or do the things you want to do because your partner can’t be there, then you’ll never do anything if he/she works for the railway.
But this season of young children is HARD to do it alone.
Oh boy, it’s hard.
If railway mama’s and parents out there are reading this and you have older kids, let me in on the secret? Does it get easier to go camping and adventuring solo when they get bigger? Or is the challenge still real? It was easy last year with a newborn, but toddler + preschooler is a lot of tantrums (x2), a lot of naps (x3), a lot of thrown food, and lack of language skills. Plus I’m usually left to carry both of them.
Taking two young kids anywhere is exhausting, and while I’m up for the challenge, after a while it gets old, but mostly it gets lonely. I can’t imagine sitting around a campfire solo at night. That’s just not my soul, I need the company of others to thrive, and thus, I don’t take the kids camping solo. Adult conversation is life, and while this might not ring true for everyone it does for me. Oh how I wish, I could just go back to work.
Instead, I find the company of good friends to join in on the chaos of the adventure. Without friends, I’m not sure what I would do, probably mope at home dreaming of taking on the great outdoors. But even then, as most of my friends end up in a similar season of life, with unpredictable weekends for their spouses, they are anxious to make the trip or do the camping. If only I could persuade my mother to go camping with me and the kids, or tag along with a family trip.
It’s still a lot of work, but it’s less work, and it’s more enjoyable when you do it together.
We just got back from a trip to Tumbler Ridge where we camped with 3 other mamas and 7 other kids. It was such a blast and a better experience than doing it alone. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to take the kids camping this summer because waiting for my husband meant it wasn’t going to happen.
I do worry about the lack of summer memories as a family together.
Balancing time together as all full family unit, and taking the kids without him to make the memories that “need” to happen is a constant juggle on my mind. Is it more important to just go, or to wait for dad? Is my need justified, or is it just a want? Or lose out on other valuable family time at home in my selfish desire to take them out into the wilderness for a weekend?
Becuase while we’re gone it’s pure chaos…
It’s kids asking for Daddy the entire time.
It’s mom doing everything and often burning herself off.
It’s wishing you could do this together,
and Dad feeling even more FOMO sitting in McBride as I share videos of the kids zipping around the playground.
I guess it’s not really different than being at home alone with the kids.
It’s overwhelming, but it fills my soul because I want to spend my summer’s camping and hiking and exploring new cities.
I miss the weekends. I wish we could make summer work with the railway, but it seems the time just passes by, and the opportunities disappear.
Case: It’s the end of August.
Point: My husband didn’t make it camping with us.
Extra: it was wildfire season, but there were no weekends, no time to adventure to Barkerville or take in the community like we did last year because the crazy rush of the railway doesn’t know about summer.
How do you make summer work for your family & railway life (or any other sporadic job that lacks any real scheduled weekend time off)?
I think next year I’ll be asking he takes one week of summer vacation if he’s senior enough to even scoop something that awesome. And preferably a week in June because I don’t like camping in the smoke, and I like campfires.