When my husband started as a drill sergeant we had two boys under 2 years old. He worked roughly 70 hours a week and was gone overnight multiple nights a week. And while yes it was hard taking care of two littles while working full time, it was harder on my husband to be gone for so much of their lives. He got home when they were asleep and left before anyone woke up.

To ensure they all still got time together, we worked out a system of rule-breaking and making the most of what hours we did have together.

First, bedtime was lax. Sure this is not ideal, but when hubs was on his way home and it was almost bedtime, I fudged the time by 30 minutes or so. Luckily they were good nappers and could easily make up the time the following day.

Do it as a family. Grocery shopping, errands, yard work — all the stuff that had to be done, we did it together. For the boring chores, we tried making it as fun as possible so the boys still had fun while we accomplished whatever needed to be done.

Schedule trips. Whenever my husband got a few days off, we made plans to do something fun. Water parks, road trips, arcade visits, etc. It didn’t have to be extravagant — even something as simple as a day at the park or bike rides and a picnic was on the list — it just had to be fun. That way we made good use out of our time together and the boys still enjoyed the extra time with Dad.

Once a month or so, I got a “Mom day” to do whatever I wanted. Selfishly, it was amazing. I could shop, get my nails or hair done, or really just relax and choose whatever I wanted to do for an entire day. But it was also great because the boys got to do man stuff with Dad. As his schedule allowed we did more of this for shorter chunks of time.

Whenever he was home, we offered special activities, too. TV before bed? Only when Dad was home. Riding on the mower? Once Dad is here! It gave them all something to look forward to and it saved my sanity from having to be mean and saying no.

Was that time hard? Absolutely! But by making it special, we gave the kids (and hubs) the ability to make better memories together rather than realizing how much time was spent apart.

So how do you handle long working days?