6 Keys To Life As A Fire Spouse

If you’re thinking about becoming a fire spouse, chances are you’ve run into people, strangers and acquaintances, who have offered some words of wisdom. You might even have close friends in your position. Whatever the case may be, well meaning advice is probably all around. Not only that, the internet and social media offer plenty of choices for support groups where fire spouses can share stories, gather advice, or just blow off some steam. 

This article offers some fundamental advice that may be a good start for figuring out what your biggest challenges may be if you are considering becoming a fire spouse.

1. Be flexible.

This is a very broad piece of advice, but that’s because it really is the umbrella of everything that follows. The fact is, emergencies are never scheduled, and it’s imperative that stations adhere to their staffing requirements. If you are someone who has trouble being flexible, adjusting to spur-of-the-moment changes, or extremely rigid in your approach to expectations for family time, it might be wise to think long and hard about becoming a fire spouse. In other words, the inability to be flexible may be a non-starter.

2. Own your independence and fulfillment.

When your spouse is working 24, 48, or even 96-hour shifts, it’s important for your own mental health to have something that occupies your mind and body that you enjoy doing all by yourself. Ideas: yoga, art, refinishing furniture, garage-saling, etc. These take mental focus and movement, which will help process stress, anxiety, or even loneliness in a different way than sitting home watching TV or staring at your phone does. If getting out of the house is difficult, always have a good book going to take you away…mentally.

3. Organize your schedule around your spouse’s schedule.

Get a big calendar and note work days. Unless childcare is not a concern, your spouse’s work days are off limits for setting appointments or committing to engagements that require you to leave the kids home. Same with vacations and date nights. Pencil those in and protect them.

4. Be prepared to celebrate holidays a little differently than you might be used to.

Again, flexibility is all over this list for good reason: Firefighter responsibilities don’t take holidays off. Schedule a holiday, birthday, or other celebration on a day near the actual date instead of lamenting the fact that your spouse isn’t able to join. Some events cannot be helped — they are going to be missed. But for those that can be juggled, go for it.

5. Do not underestimate the importance of sleep.

Your spouse needs to recharge on days off, period. Sleep deprivation has a cumulative effect and can affect physical performance, alertness, coordination, mood, and a host of other things. Try to put in place some household rules or create routines that allow the firefighter in the house to wake up refreshed and ready to spend time with the family (or just you!).

6. Create a single-parent resource binder.

On those days when you need to be a single parent, but simply can’t be in two places at once, or you wake up with a migraine, or whatever the conflict may be with your schedule and the kids’ needs, have all of your choices at your fingertips. Along with flexibility, organization is also an absolute must for firefighter households. Try to have people you can call at the last minute, depend on for dropping kids off at school if you need them to, make a meal for you, etc. Keep the binder where you can easily access it. Tip: Add local take out menus, bus schedules, doctors’ phone numbers, or any other information you might need that will save you time. The less time you are frantically trying to find what you need, the better.

This list could be much longer, but the main message is that organization and flexibility, mixed with a healthy dose of preparation and common sense will go a long way toward creating and sustaining a healthy firefighter household where everyone’s needs are getting met.

If you have questions about long-term care coverage or how NPFBA can help serve you, feel free to reach out to us via our website, phone, email or schedule a zoom meeting and let’s grab some face time!

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