Being the wife of a firefighter is not like being married to a man who has a regular 9-5 desk job, or the CEO of a big company. It’s an entirely different lifestyle. While your best friend might be worried about her husbands Christmas bonus, you’re just grateful to see him pull into the driveway at the end of his shift.
Firefighters, especially after 9/11, are increasingly viewed as heroes who risk their lives every day for the public safety. And while that is true, behind every good man is a strong woman. The following five tips will help you be the best fire wife you can be while managing the stress associated with your husband’s job.
1. Make the most of the time you DO have together.
Especially in Cal Fire, the shifts are LOOOONG! Normally a 72 hours stretch, but it can stretch out if someone calls in sick and he’s “forced on” or if there’s a staffing pattern or fire assignment. The time you do have together is precious. Plan a regular “date” without the kids, and schedule some family activities too. Conversely, don’t forget your “business meeting” once a month or so. My firefighter and I sit down with our calendars and compare work schedules, overtime shifts, kids’ activities, and bills.
2. Monitor your own AND your kids’ TV time.
Especially if he’s out on a fire assignment or if he works for a city that is particularly volatile or there is a crisis involving firefighters. During the Old Fire my kids Dad’s house was one of the 4 left on his street. Watching the TV news only added to our stress. Also, let him know how much you can handle hearing about his job. If you don’t want the graphic details of a traffic collision over your Sunday pot roast – let him know
3. Don’t try to change your firefighter.
He’s in his job because he loves it. Not for the money. It’s normal to worry about his health and safety, but don’t let it consume you. Learning more about the extensive training he’s gone through may put you more at ease. If your department allows it, go on a ride-along. Seeing what his day is like – the mundane station chores, calls they get cancelled on, etc. will show you that the “dangerous” part of his job really doesn’t happen as often as it does in your own head. And besides, do you really want to see him miserable in a job he hates?
4. If you don’t feel comfortable being home alone at night or for long stretches, TELL HIM!
You can have an alarm system installed, get a guard dog, put motion detectors on your outside lights, install deadbolts, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to stay the night with you once in a while if it makes you feel better. These things will make you feel more secure so that your firefighter can stop worrying about YOU and concentrate on his job – thereby increasing his own safety.
5. Become as self-sufficient as possible.
Learn how to make simple home repairs, and have a dependable handyman you can turn to as well. Hire a yard service. If you work outside the home, get a housekeeper. Assign chores to your kids! You want to be able to spend the time you DO have together, together. Delegate anything you can! You will be glad you did!
Written by Cyndi Fehler, Blogger, Fire Wife, Girl Scout, and SuperMom. http://www.fire-wife.com