Home. Just mentioning the word can conjure up thoughts of everything from an iconic Norman Rockwell painting of Thanksgiving to memories of children’s laughter, the wonderful aroma of something special cooking in the kitchen or a favorite easy chair. We like to think of home as the one place in the world where we can completely unwind, relax and spend time with the people we love. It’s where we live life.
That’s the ideal. But if you’re an over the road truck driver, the reality can be a lot different. Too often home is the sleeper in your big rig, days of dining on truck stop food, and hours of monotonous “windshield time” staring at mile after mile of highway. Conversations are sound bites of “How ya doin? Can I freshen up that coffee?” or a few crackling voices over a CB radio. Sure, trucks and truck stops are far more comfortable and driver friendly than a generation ago, but they aren’t home. Home is still that special place with special people truckers don’t get to see often enough.
It isn’t unusual for a long-haul truck driver to only get home once every three or four weeks. When they do finally get some downtime with family and friends at home it may be no more than one day for every week spent on the road. That makes the time a trucker has at home all the more precious. Since there’s so little of it, make sure you get the most out of it and make it quality time.
It may sound surprising, but after weeks on the road, coming home can be a bit of a culture shock. One of the most common comments truckers make about what’s important about coming home is being able to spend some time doing nothing and not going anywhere for a while. Whether it’s time spent stretched out in a hammock in the back yard, taking a walk in the woods or a snooze in an easy chair, having a little time to decompress and ease into home life is often just what the doctor ordered and it can make the rest of the time home even better.
After a little down time you can relax with family and friends and just enjoy being together. That may be as simple as going out for ice cream or taking in a ball game. Whatever that time is, use it to get connected. Share stories about what happened on the road or the places you’ve been. Listen to what family and friends have been up to while you were gone. Just spend time being normal. Refresh and recharge.
When a person is on the road that long, there is bound to be an ever-growing list of chores that need to be taken care of back home. Sometimes it’s a little home or car maintenance, but often it’s the dreaded “Honey do” list – “Honey, can you do this? Honey, can you do that?” Of course, that’s just a normal part of family life, but trying to get everything done and checked off before heading back out on the road may be a little overwhelming or unrealistic – even stressful. Nobody wants to waste their time at home, but not at the expense of some much needed R&R and quality family time. Given that, it’s important to strike a balance. Getting a good start on that can be done by practicing the three Ps: Predict, Plan Ahead, Prioritize.
Look ahead to see when you’ll be home and how long you can stay. Communicate with the folks back home about what chores need to be done, whether there are any events you need to attend and people you want to see. If you have some idea what’s going on at home, there won’t be as many surprises and it lets you plan how to use your time better.
Put a plan together for your time off. Having some kind of plan for your time will not only make it easier to get things checked off on your to-do list, but it can end up giving you more time to do things you want to do.
Chances are, you won’t be able to do everything you need to do or want to do while you’re home. After you’ve made your plan, list them in order of priority, most important first. Keep in mind, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting relaxing and family time at the top of the list. If you don’t get to the bottom of the to-do list, they’ll still be there next time you’re home, but time spent relaxing with family and friends is something you can’t get back.
Few things in life are more valuable than time. We all get a limited amount of it, and once it’s spent it’s gone. The most important time you have is the time you’re able to spend at home. It’s when you make memories and build relationships. It can be the best part of life.
Being on the road can be lonely and exhausting, so making time at home quality time can help make the long hours grinding it out on the highway worth it. With some planning, prioritizing and communication with the folks back home you can get rested, refreshed and ready to go again.