Sunday, April 18, 2010

Advice For A Future Paramedic's Wife

I received a very sweet email today from a reader named Helen. Her husband is about to start his training as a paramedic. She wanted some advice on how to handle her three little ones while he is away. I thought it would be a perfect subject to delve into here on my blog. This would apply to any type of emergency worker wives, also it may work for military wives.

Here is my advice...

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to write to me. You have truly blessed me and encouraged me today. I am facing another potentially challenging day as my husband goes on yet another 24 hour shift. I am going to be honest with you, it used to be so hard when I had three little ones. My expectations were high, I thought I could do it all. Well, I will share with you a few things I've learned.


1. Schedule appointments, shopping and anything else while he is at home. Basically, I don't want to have to leave the house unless I absolutely have to or want to while he is working his 24+ hours. If he is away at training for a week, again, I schedule everything ahead of time, I also make sure that we have shopped for toilet paper, diapers and milk (life's essentials with little ones!). This works for us, because my husband practically begs to run errands. He just loves staying busy. He enjoys taking the children with him, so it gives me a break at the same time. Not every man is geared this way, though. So be sensitive to it (read the comments for a different perspective).

2. Make simple, easy meals. Mac and cheese, pancakes, sandwiches, and casseroles can all be made up in a jiffy. When I make a casserole, I always make two and freeze the extra. That is my fast food for the night. Also, five minute pizzas are easy. Just take any kind of bread, put some tomato sauce or paste on it (mixed with a little Italian seasoning) and then some grated Mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 till they are done. Easy, easy, easy!

3. Lower your expectations of your husband. In this line of work, your life will be interrupted constantly. Your husband will not have a 9-5 job. Overtime will come at the most inconvenient of times. You have to be able to roll with the punches. I made myself miserable for years because I was always disappointed when our plans were dashed upon the rocks! I finally decided that I would EXPECT him to be gone, then I wouldn't be disappointed. It gave me a whole new appreciation for when he was able to make it to church, or an event, or help me get the kids somewhere.

4. Expect it to be hard. When I finally buckled down and told myself, "This is going to be more work." I could finally except it and move on. I wasn't boiling in resentment at being left to raise six children by myself. I am by myself most of the time. My hubby is here for maybe 2-3 hours total during waking hours when he is not working. He is busy with overtime and now exercising. He is training for a relay race and jogs every other day. He also does Tae Kwon Do and exercises on those days too. He is trying to lose weight as well. We RARELY have a sit down meal together. Maybe 10 a month (that might be stretching it). He also isn't here most of the time as I'm trying to put the kids down (to me that is the most stressful time of the day). It's just the way it is. Acceptance is the key.

5. Think of his job as a blessing and a sacrifice. Praise the Lord he has a job when so many people don't! But also know that this type of job is a sacrifice for the wife. It is like being a pastor's wife. Her husband is not her own. He must be shared with others in need.

6. Pray for him. It is a tough, worldly environment. It is hard for him to not curse and gossip about others. Pray for wisdom and safety in his job. The things they see are very difficult. Dead babies and children are the worst. Be there for him if he needs to talk. Don't push him, just ask "How was your day. Did you have many calls?" Be available if he needs to talk, even when it is in the middle of the night and you are exhausted. When and if he does open up, don't ask lots of questions or turn away in shock, listen, listen and listen some more.

If any of you have any other ways that you cope, please leave them in the comment section. I know that many of my readers will benefit from this discussion.

Blessings to all of you who make this sacrifice daily! You can read even more suggestions here (A Fireman's Wife) and (14 Years of Being a Firefighter's Wife and the Lessons I've Learned).

29 comments:

Hayley said...

Once again, Stacie, you hit the nail on the head! Your wisdom rings true because you actually live it! Thank you for sharing!

You pretty much rock!

Jen@Scrapingirl said...

Luckily, I don't know any difference. He was in dispatch and worked midnights when we started having kids, so I was used to sleeping alone and keeping the kids occupied and somewhat quiet so he could sleep during the day. I'm not saying that was easy, but you learn to adjust. Now that the kids are 8 and 9 they are used to it. But daddy also knows that if I am starting to loose it, he may not be able to work his part time job, so I can have a break. He cleans windows with his dad, so taking a day off isn't a problem.

We also make it a point to eat dinner together on ALL the days he doesn't wok at the FD. It's our chance to regroup and talk. Even if you're not eating, you sit and talk.

God will help give you the strength wherever you need it.

Shari said...

I agree with most of what you had to say except number one. I do the exact opposite. I try and make sure all the chores, shopping, appointments are done when hubby is on shift. This way his time home can be focused on relaxing and doing the fun things.

The last thing my FF wants to do on his day off is watch 3 boys while I run errands.

Just a different view point thanks for this post - Shari

Shari Simpson
http://twointwoout.blogspot.com/

Mrs. Lukie said...

Great post :)

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Shari, thanks for your comments. In regards to the errands on his days off, my hubby practically begs to shop! He does not like sitting around. I never get to shop anymore! I sort of miss it. LOL!

This is a great point, if you hubby is not into running errands. Each family is different. So do what you need to do to survive it!

smoore2213 said...

I'm a FF-paramedic married to a FF-paramedic. We wrote our own wedding vows to reflect this...one of the vows, and the hardest one to keep, was "I promise to love and support you...when I need you, but you need to leave because someone else needs your help even more."

That line still makes me cry. Sometimes it's so very hard to see him leave again when I haven't seen him in 40 hours because he's been called back in. I can't tell you that it gets easier. We talk on the phone a lot and text a lot. I'll sometimes just show up at at the station with dinner, or just to say hi(it's a bit easier for us since we met and work at the same station, though I'm on maternity leave).

The best advice I ca give? Talk. A lot. And hug him when he comes home. And know that sometimes we run calls that hit so close to home, and when we come home, we want to hug and hold our spouse and our children.We don't want to do errands, we don't care about the cleanliness of the house or what's for dinner---what we want to is to hold and love and be with our family.

Good luck--paramedic school is HARD, and the job can be even harder. But it is worth it.

Catherine said...

I 'ditto' Hayley's statement, Stacie, that you actually live your advice. It is good advice that can be taken and followed, but not easily. You have fought tooth and nail to be where you are emtionally with your hubby's job! And you do well.

Mich said...

My hubby is not a paramedic or firefighter, but I liked this post anyway. My hubby is a minister, which means he is on call 24/7 and I have to share him with a whole congregation. My children are old enough to do for themselves now, but I wish I had read this when they were smaller.

Thanks for being an encouragement to others.

7drizzles7 said...

Many people praise the paramedic or pray for their pastor...but umm...Who Prays For The Pastor's Wife or paramedics wife?: http://wp.me/pEVJ0-hb

THE OLD GEEZER said...

I enjoyed looking over your blog. I found your profile on another blog I follow and I added myself to follow you. You are more than welcome to visit my blog and become a follower if you want to.

God Bless You, Ron

Summer said...

hello there !! my name is summer and i am the wife of a retired professional veteran firefighter ..... my husband and i are lovers of THE WORD of GOD as well ...... during the years when my husband was working there wasn't a day or night that i wouldn't lift him to the LORD JESUS for a hedgerow of protection around him as well as the other men on shift ( if it were not for my faith in GOD i would be one sleepless & worried wife for 27 years )..... my husband and i are very grateful for all the safe years of active service he had as well as our ability to share the gospel with other firefighters and their wives ( some have been saved and yet others have been comforted during times of bereavement) ..... our home was like a safe haven for those who needed the LORD whether they knew it or not ...... our life has been a blessing because of what GOD has bestowed upon us ..... just remember that GOD has chosen you to be the wife of a firefighter because of the qualities you have that can be an asset to your husband...... use your gifts of hospitality , patience , salvation and reliance on the LORD to be an avenue for those who are looking for the LORD ....... thank you for allowing me to share this post response ...... i will pray for safety for all of these families ... GOD BLESS you all !!

Katie said...

Wonderful advice! I'm not sure I would add anything! (My hubby is a shopper too!)

DH just went through medic school in 2008. I was pregnant with our third and my other two boys were 3 and 1. It was tough to say the least, but we both gave our lives to the Lord during that time and we were seen through with a new light! DH graduated from school and a week later we welcomed our beautiful Jacob into the world!

Thanks for sharing! I love reading your blog, such an inspiration!

J said...

My husband isn't a firefighter or paramedic, he works at a nuclear plant, but his hours are insane and he works shift work and the overtime most definitely comes at the most inconvenient of times. Yes, I am thankful he has a wonderful job, especially in this economic climate. Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom. Shift work is very hard on a family and the things you've shared are right on. I am maturing in some of these areas and regret that I resisted so earlier on. Life is much easier and our relationship is much better when I am more mature about things. Thanks for sharing! Love you!

Rosemi said...

Thank you for this post. I often feel sad because my husband works 12 hrs a day and 6-7 days a week. I have learned to not assume he is going to be off Sunday anymore. I am encouraged to know I am not alone. I have never met anyone in my same situation.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Excellent post, Stace! All this advice is perfect for military wives, too. You are encouraging so many women out there. Keep up the good work, sis!

Love you,
Jackie

feeduhh said...

Hey thank you for sharing your insight! I have three little ones and a new born. I am always alone well with out my husband because of the crazy firefighters schedule. I have been trying to schedule a normal two week work schedule for months (no overtime), Well now I just found out the two weeks we had planned in May will not be happening because he has a ropes class scheduled! So now I will not be seeing him again! We have been together for 10 years so I should be use to it but truth be told I'm not. It gets easier but it is hard. Your blog is the first time I have heard any wife admit that it is tough being a wife to someone who is hardly ever around. I have also just began to look at it like he will not be here that way when he is it is a treat:O) I love him with all my heart and I do appreciate him but I just hope he appreciates our families sacrifice for his career:O) Any how Thank you again for your insight it is really nice to hear someone speak truth about family life:O)

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I don't think people can relate to perfect people. I try to keep it as real as possible without hurting the ones I love.

It is a sacrifice for all of us. Him, me, the kids. It is not a "normal" life.

Even now as I'm typing this, he left to go work out (it's his day off), he said he would be back to help get the kids down, but the pager went off, so now I know he's at the station on overtime. I used to get so angry when this happened. Now I just except it and move on. It doesn't do any good.

Thank you all for your comments. I've enjoyed reading every one of them. Keep 'em coming! I love to know what you're thinking.

Tamra said...

Love your advice Stacie. My hubby is working on the road now too. It's a challenge with 3, but keep your focus on your faith and it will all work out. :) I'm working on "letting" people help me who want to and getting out of the prideful "I can do it all myself" attitude. :)

Tamra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donna B said...

Stacie,

Excellent advice. When you live as the wife of a firefighter or paramedic you have to appreciate the time you have together and pray for the times when you are apart.

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth said...

Hi

I am married to a paramedic in the UK. We have been married nearly 2 years and he had a 9 to 5 job when I met him - and life was wonderful. We have no kids at home - and now he has a job with shifts where he often only gets 2 weeks notice of what these are. I work Mon - Fri 9 to 5 (as he used to) and now I get to spend most of my weekends without him. I am so unhappy not having the husband here I thought I would be spending time with. The difficult part is - that we are in the fortunate position where he does not need to work for the money - but does it for his self esteem - but he now has a miserable, lonely and unhappy wife who is building her own independent life. I still love him and want this to work but feel so lonely and let down. We don't get invites from friends anymore as they know I hate attending functions alone, or having to tell them my husband is working. My Mum doesn't call on spec as she is worried she may wake him if he has been on nights. I hate coming home after a hard days work to no-one, and eating meals on my own. It isn't what I thought my life would be when I got married. Does anyone have any words of advice or encouragement as I really don't know where to turn anymore. Thank you.

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Dear Beth,

This is exactly why there is a large divorce rate for emergency personal. It doesn't have to be though.

My husband is rarely home. I think the key is acceptance. It is crucial that you build a life (hobbies or things that satisfy you) instead of just waiting for the phone to ring or him to come home. You also need friends who understand his work. You need to get comfortable handling socializing without him. I've had to do all of this. It is uncomfortable at first, but in time you get used to it.

I think it is your number one duty as his wife to support the decision he has made for himself in choosing this career. If you undermine him he will be miserable. He will feel less than a man.

Attitude is everything. I hate to see you drown in bitterness and resentment. It's so easy to let our minds and thoughts dwell on such things. We have every right in the world to feel sorry for ourselves, but it does absolutley no good. I know this full well ;)

If you need to email me privately, I'm here at sbfirefighter@centurylink.net

I will pray for you and you hubby to be able to work things out. You are not alone in feeling this and I'm glad you posted.

Laura said...

Thanks for sharing! I'm going to look into more of your site. My hubby is a corpsman in the military (currently deployed), so I'm definitely 'used' to him being gone, but he's considering a career in emergency services when he gets out. I have to say, i think the biggest comfort to me is knowing that nothing in my life is a surprise to God. :)

Stacey said...

Beth, Wow...I could have written your post. I am struggling with my husband's career choice also. When we met, he worked a Mon-Fri job. I miss our weekends SO much. I HATE being alone. I have SO much resentment against him - wrongfully so I know. It is truly taking a toll on our marriage. We have 2 daughters - ages 8 and 3. It's tough. I just hope I can learn to be happy with this lifestyle. I question it everyday - but there's no doubt that I want our marriage to work.

Stephanie Harkins said...

Hello! I'm 32 years old and have been engaged to an out-of-work paramedic for a year, and he's about to go back to work, and we're about to get married. I googled "being a paramedic's wife" and this website came up...I know I'm in for a long hard road, but he is worth it to me, I've loved this man for a long long time. I'm just not sure of what to expect when he goes back to work, what it's going to be like, how to handle things, etc... your blog has given me a lot of insight, and thank you for that!! We don't have any children, so it's just us, but I want to be prepared for everything I might encounter, cause well, he REALLY loves being a medic and has hated being out of work for a year. He tells me stories alllll the time (90% of his stories start with 'one time, in the back of the truck'..), but I know it's going to be different once he starts actually working again.

I just want to make sure our relationship lasts a long, long time, and I want to know how to best support him in this. Thanks for all your advice!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Hi Stephanie,

Thank you for commenting. I am glad that this blog could be of some encouragement to you. It is not an easy life. Not be needy and jealous is a huge deal. Also, commitment is a must! I pray all goes well for you both and am thankful that he is able to go back to work. times are hard right now.

Amanda said...

I really enjoyed reading the posts! Great advice, however, I'm in a bit of a deli ma. As a wife of a paramedic, a mom, a full time student, and still serving in the military I'm still trying to find way to keep my sanity. Every one refers to being a paramedics wife is like being married to the military! Were doing both and I'm absolutely loosing it!

LinerGlitterGloss said...

I just wanted to say thank you for posting this and for all the comments everyone has shared. My boyfriend is currently in training for his new paramedic job, and is officially on in 2 weeks. We don't have any kids yet, but reading all of this has been so helpful. I've been a little worried about how things will change once he's on the job. It's going to be a lot to deal with, but I know approaching it the right way is going to make it easier. Back in the first year we were dating he had a job that took him away from home for weeks at a time, coming home for a few days in between, an it was so hard not being able to see him. It made me so grateful for all of the time we did spend together, and I plan on making the most of it when he's home now as well.

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