I get that question all the time. "I don't know how you do it. I can't stand it when my husband is gone for even one night, and yours travels all the time."
So I had made a bunch of notes of how I do it.
And then this week hit. Tim was in Las Vegas for one day, home one day, and then in Indiana for 5 days. I was home with the kids.
And by the end of the week, I had cried or shouted or both every day, the floors were coated with crumbs, nobody had done any schooling, I hadn't managed to make any meals that people would actually eat, every toy and most of the canned food in the house were heaped in the stairwell blocking the front door, there was crayon on the walls and some floors (all new this week!), my computer started freezing randomly, the phone computer stopped working all together and my attempts to set up the phone on Caleb's computer made it so that one won't stay on either, the dirty laundry was piled in little heaps around the house, the clean laundry was draped over the entire basement drying (we have no dryer right now), the dishes were piled in the sink--all of them--dirty (of course), there were bits of broken up styrofoam scattered everywhere (which I kept fishing out of the baby's mouth), Benji had a severe diaper rash, Nathanael wouldn't let me put him down without screaming (both of us, most of the time), we missed church entirely, our schedule was worse than ever with some kids not actually seeing ANY daylight, I had to wire my rocking chair back together, and just about everyone (including me) was whiny, bickering, and absolutely miserable. Chaos, disorder, and unhappiness reigned.
In short, the answer to "how do you do it?" is "not very well."
This is why we usually try to go with Tim on tours whenever it is even moderately feasible.
But still, I look at it like childbirth. Once you're in labor, there's no backing out, so you do the best you can, try to stay calm and distract yourself, and somehow manage to survive.
To be honest, it's usually not this bad. When I can talk to Tim for a couple of hours on the phone every night (and we do, too), and when he's not sick so he can stay awake for the conversations, we handle things much more happily. But it's really close to not working at any given moment, obviously. Only one thing really went wrong initially this week--the phone breaking--but that cascaded everything out of its delicate balance so that I couldn't handle the everything elses.
So there you have it.
How do I handle it?
Same as every other mother:
Any way I can.