I started looking more seriously about staying put and discovered that we could stay where we were and my husband could go without us Monday to Friday and drive home on the weekends.
I didn’t see this opportunity as a fabulous solution to our dilemma and I knew this would impact our family life significantly but we had already gone through several postings and it often felt as though I was the one having to make the sacrifices.
I lost friends, lost support systems and always had to lose my job. While each posting also ended with us making new friends, having new adventures and new experiences we may never have had otherwise, it was hard.
More Pitfalls than I Thought
However, there were more pitfalls with going on IR than I thought there would be. There are additional costs like gas to go back and forth, wear and tear on the car and additional food costs. Plus other factors that occur like bad weather conditions, the dirty clothes hamper arriving home and the stress of having to find time during the week to connect as a couple.
“Good Times Daddy”
But, in my opinion, the biggest issue that couples need to overcome are the resentments and the “Good Times Daddy” syndrome that came with IR. I was not prepared for that! While I got to keep my job, had friends and family around for support and didn’t have to move the kids from their schools, I quickly became more than a little resentful. I was the one doing the lunches, taxiing the kids to their activities, grocery shopping, meeting with teachers, nagging about homework, doing the laundry, filling out forms, cleaning the house, putting out the garbage, shoveling the snow, walking the dog and all the other things in a week that used to be shared between us both.
Getting Off “Easy” Feeling
Also, even though my friends were in town – I never had time to see them. I would resentfully stomp around the park with the dog thinking how nice it must be to just take care of yourself during the week. On one level I knew that my husband didn’t love being away from us, hated the driving back and forth and was working very hard, but it didn’t help with the feeling that he was getting off “easy”.
My second frustration is that whoever is on IR becomes the “fun” parent – in our case, my husband became the ‘Good Times Daddy’. He did the fun things on the weekend and spent time relaxing and having fun with the kids, and I was the one that had to nag about homework, dishes, laundry, etc. All of a sudden he became the ‘yes’ and fun parent that showed up on the weekends for all the good stuff.
I was usually so tired from all that happened during the week that I was more like “Grumpy/Sleepy Mommy.” The one that just wanted to make up for the weekdays of sleep deprivation and never having enough time to do all the things that needed to get done. I also loathed asking for help from my husband on the weekends as I knew that this was precious time we all got to spend together and didn’t want to waste it cleaning toilets.
Having now frightened off readers from IR, I will say that there are also benefits that need to be considered.
Would Have Had to Mange
My husband ended up being deployed and on training courses for nearly a year of his IR – this would have been time that we were alone and having to manage without him anyway. I think I might have been more resentful if we had moved down there, given up support, work and friends only to be left on our own. Our kids missed out on all the stress of having to start at another school and were able to have the stability of being in the same schools, keeping friends their and being close to family. We didn’t have to move from a lovely neighbourhood and all that is familiar to ‘start again.’
Pro & Con List
Before deciding on going IR, there is no need to write a pro and con list. You already know most of the reasons in your heads. Talk about it with each other but spend more time talking about the responsibilities and commitments you are willing to make and take on and ones that you aren’t. This will help you make the difficult decision to go or not go on IR. There are no clear cut answers and I think it is unlikely you will jump up and down with joy whatever you decide but my advice is to decide what you can and can’t take on and go from there.