It’s become second nature, but the reality is, as the wife of a firefighter, I do a lot of parenting on my own. While that’s true, that’s also not the full story.
Now, I’m no seasoned pro at this fire-wife thing. I mean, I still consider myself a rookie, even though it’s been 6 years! But even in these short 6 years, it’s been such a process, and I’ve learned so much more about his work and how to better manage a family rhythm that isn’t typical.
Let me be abundantly clear: it’s an honor to support Jonny and his dream job. (Read more about how hard he fought for this career here.)
I have so much respect for my husband and the brave men and women he works with. And my role as his wife has grown right along with that respect!
But not gonna lie, there are challenges to this way of life.
So, both for me and any other spouse of a firefighter, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way to have a healthy approach to our marriage.
- Be comfortable going solo
As a fire wife, I know you can relate to doing a lot of things solo – especially with kids in the mix! Between their activities, work events, and everything in between, there are so many times when we’re flying solo.
For the longest time, I struggled with confidence in those situations. I was self-conscious, worrying about what others thought about my husband never being around. I had to work through those lies and insecurities in my head.
The truth is, the typical 9-5 dad has the availability that our firefighter hubbies don’t. But there’s a whole other side that people don’t see – the precious time off we get to spend together that others don’t! The impromptu Tuesday lunch dates when the kids are at school, the 4-day weekends – that’s our time! I had to learn to be confident in who we are and what we have.
And honestly, we can’t worry about what others think…they’ve got their own issues anyway!
So be confident in showing up solo. Take those kiddos to their events with your head held high, and don’t let it stop you from living life to the fullest!
- Visit the firehouse
See his world as often as you can, especially with the kids! I know it can be tough with distance and scheduling. But even just a couple of visits this past summer were so great for me.
Seeing where he works day in and day out, his locker, the kitchen, the dorms…it made it all feel more real. The kids loved it too!
This summer I got to meet some of his crew, put faces to the names I’ve heard in stories. It made me feel more connected to that part of his life and renewed my appreciation for the work he does.
So if you can swing it, plan a lunch date at the station, take the kiddos for some fun photos, and make those connections. It means the world to be able to relate to the people our spouses spend so much time with!
And if you get the chance for a ride along, take it!
I went on a couple of calls with Jonny this summer, and woah, mama was it amazing! But also so cool to see firsthand what those calls are like – the fast pace, the community service, the top-notch care from start to finish.
I was blown away even more by the selfless service they provide, and it gave me a new perspective for those long days on my own.
Knowing the care he’s giving to complete strangers when he’s away made my own service feel that much more meaningful. And experiencing those calls together connected us on a deeper level.
- Institute a 20-minute check-in
When he gets home, I know it’s tempting to start tackling the to-do list since you’ve finally got a second pair of hands to help you run an errand or play with the kids. But try your hardest to just spend 20 minutes, devices down, soaking each other in.
After a long shift apart, taking time to fully reconnect is so needed (even when it’s the last thing I feel like doing after a day with the kiddos!). A walk, playing with the kids, even just chatting over a cup of coffee – find something that brings you together and leaves the job behind.
Ask him about calls and stories from the shift – the memorable ones, the challenging ones. And when he shares, listen without judgment. I used to react in disbelief or disgust to some of the details. But I learned to set my emotions aside so I could be fully present for him to process aloud.
Once he learned that he didn’t have to care for me while he debriefed, it opened the door for him to share more. This not only brings us closer, but it helps me be more encouraged and less frustrated when he’s gone for days on end.
- Send them off with love
When unexpected recalls or long assignments pop up, see him off with encouragement, love, and understanding. As much as I want to carry the frustration of having to break our plans, that’s not productive nor is it healthy. Instead, send him off with confidence phrases so that he’s not also worried about you while he cares for people in need. Let him know that you’ve got this, that you’ll be thinking of him. Sending him with positivity eases the transition for both of us.
And don’t forget about your own village – that community that lifts you up when he’s gone. If it’s not around you yet, seek it out! Get to know your neighbors. Connect with moms at school. People know firefighters do so much to serve our community and are very understanding. Let them help you!
It’s challenging but so rewarding, and I’m still learning every step. It’s okay that it’s hard, and it’s okay that you need help. But don’t let the frustrations limit your experience because there’s so much GOOD that comes with this line of work, both with our family and with the people he serves.