Humans are social animals. In ancient times we survived because we worked together in tribal groups. Nothing has changed, we still need strong support networks and never has this been more important than for families of professional truck drivers and people that work remotely.
When out on the road for work there are so many things that are going through your mind. Not only do you need to focus on the work at hand, but you may also be concerned about your family at home as well.
One of the best things we can do to ease the worry about our family being home alone while we’re on the road for work is to build a strong support network around them. A support network that will be there to support our partner and children. People who we can trust to step in when an extra set of hands are needed, or to call on during emergency situations.
Working away from home is never easy, and pride can sometimes get in the way of asking for help. Pride will have us thinking that we can manage it all. Partners in particular may feel they have to put on a brave front and can manage it all themselves, but why should either of you have to maintain a stiff upper lip and carry on as if everything is fine when the reality might actually be the exact opposite?
So, how do you begin to build a strong support network for your family for the times when you are on the road?
The best and easiest way to build a support network is to ask for help. There is no shame in swallowing our pride and asking for help when it’s needed. Even if that request for help can seem like too much to ask, be ongoing or stretch for extended periods of time. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s that same ‘village’ that will be there to lend a hand as and when it’s needed. In fact, in most situations, people love to be of assistance when and wherever they can.
The most obvious choice of people to form part of you support network would be family members such as parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins etc. Extended family is the ideal support network. Community truly does begin at home and knowing that there is extended family there to support your family when you cannot be there, goes a long way to providing peace of mind.
Other people that can form part of your support network could include friends, neighbours and community connections. Being a member of the local sports team, church or other community group, can be a great source of support for both yourself and your family. Joining a local Facebook community group or checking community boards can help you find groups of interest. Online resources such as OurCommunity.com.au or MyCommunityDirectory.com.au can also be useful.
Taking the time to build solid relationships and being an active part of a wider community is a great way to not only get involved in your community but to build up a strong support network. Getting your children involved in sporting and community events is the ideal way for you and your partner to meet new people and form lasting relationships.
Don’t forget to include any paid assistance as part of your support network. Having someone to come in and do some cleaning or mow the lawns can help ease the pressure on the home front. ServiceSeeking.com.au is a great place to source local help.
Building a strong support network also involves forward thinking and planning.
Knowing both your schedule and your families schedule ahead of time can really help with planning out the logistics of events and activities and making sure your support network is in place to help out at such times. If we can identify times and situations help is needed the most, we can start planning for those times.
Of course, your partner will likely be the one most needing support while you are on the road, and so they will be the best person to manage the logistics on the home front, but helping them to build that support network will go a long way towards your own peace of mind.
As well as forward planning, having everyone on board with the support structure in place is important. We need to be comfortable and confident with the support we are receiving. For example, there is no point in arranging for a neighbour to help out if our partner doesn’t feel comfortable with receiving help from that person.
Communication is also a big part of building a strong support network.
Making sure everyone is clear about what is going on so there are no misunderstandings or miscommunication helps enormously to ease the stress. There are many planning tools and resources to help keep everyone on the same page. Simple things such as syncing online calendars are handy ways to keeping everyone informed and up-to-date on the schedule.
Having a backup of a backup is also a good thing to have as part of a support structure. Obviously we can plan ahead as much as possible, but life is messy and there will be times when even the best laid plans can fall apart. Sure, we would all love for everything to run like clockwork every single time but the chances of that happening is slim to none. There are going to be those times when your support person has a flat battery or traffic is nightmare or one of your kids is home sick and needs a minder. Like I said, life is messy and the best way to deal with it is to hope for the best but plan for the worse. A strong support network will always include a backup of a backup. A mate or a family member that you can call on to pick up the slack on the rare occasion that things do go pear shaped.
Like all good things in life, building a strong support network takes time to nurture and grow. It also takes a little trial and error to also get it right and have it running like clockwork. All a small price to pay for the huge dividends and peace of mind that a support network brings in return.
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