Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Thoughts on training with a family in tow

In response to a question on JC about going through training with a family in tow, I posted this-

Been there, done that about this time last year actually. We were in Jax, did the PPL and then the ACPP and instructing. It really wasn't all that bad. Our son was 3-4 during all this.

Here's some things that kept us sane:

- Studying had to be done outside of the house- at the airport, partner's house, library, apt. clubhouse. If he was home, it was too easy and distracting for all of us. I didn't care how long he was out studying,I knew there was a lot he had to learn, as long as when he was home he was ours. There really was no place for him to study in solitude at our apt. anyway and Kidzilla wouldn't have been able to leave him alone (with a younger kid this might not be a problem). Occasionally he was able to get in some study time when everyone else was sleeping.

- Some time had to be carved out for family each week. Didn't have to be daily, but we tried to go out to breakfast every sunday so we had some special family time. Ignoring your family completely is a sure path to an unhappy wife who will make your life miserable.

- Divide up tasks appropriately. I knew I couldn't expect him to be home helping with dinner every night, but he was still expected to pitch in. Gas stations and the dumpster are open 24 hrs, so are the library drop off bin and the post office... We divided up who was resposible for what so that I didn't feel like I was stuck with EVERYTHING. But I knew going into it that I was going to have to take on a large majority of household running.

- Aviation gets left at the door. Really, I don't give a crap about windspeed and weight and balance sheets. Airport gossip was another thing entirely though...

-Make a list of local "family" things to do. We keep a list on the fridge and whenever we have some family time, it's easy to find something special to do. It's all too easy to sit and home and waste the day. I refer to it when it's just me and Kidzilla to keep us busy too.

-Get your wife to join It's a great support group of other pilot wives.

I may come off as a harda$$ with my "rules" but they really did help us out and everyone who knows me or A-dub knows I'm not really that way. I see it as protecting my investment- in both his flying and our family.

-Make sure you tell your wife how much you appreciate her. For leaving whatever she had to leave behind so you could do this, for supporting you in attaining your goal, for keeping everything running smoothly while you are occupied... Just a little "thank you for being so good to me" goes a long way. Hearing about how you would rather be at home than in a hot, sticky, cramped seminole with a flight partner who forgot to pack his deoderant and snores like a freight train for your 4 day cross country makes us feel like at least your sacrifice is equalling ours.
And our son thinks that the pens/pencils/soaps/ etc picked up from different FBO's along the way are the greatest treats ever.

I've noticed in the last few months, that our son will ask mama's permission or for help for things, even when Dad is sitting right there. Not sure if it comes from my being the stable one in his life- before the divorce he's too young to remember, when we were alone and now- or from A being away from home so much flying and training. Probably a little of both. When A is home, I always remind M, "there are two adults here, you don't always have to ask mama for everything, dad can help you too". After a few days of A being home, M gets used to asking him again too, but there is still, always, a 3:1 ratio of requests to mama vs. A.

I think a lot of the topics can also carry over to managing a family for a professional pilot. The same time/distance/mind occupation are still obstacles to overcome. It's still important for both partners to help out with what they can and both to feel appreciated for their contributions and sacrifices...

A's been home yesterday and today. Returns to IAH tomorrow and come homes again 3 days later. It's been nice to have him home, he's been extra cuddly lately, but at the same time, it's hard to adjust to not being the adult in charge anymore. And he's a cover stealer...

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