When my husband first got hired on with the police department eight years ago, the wives and spouses were invited to come hear more about the job, what to expect, and learn how to cope. “How to cope”, those words rang loudly in my ear! What would I have to cope with? My husband was the one doing the dangerous stuff, not me.
The first thing they told the LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) wives was to be prepared to be a single parent. I heard that, and I did not fully understand or appreciate those words of warning and wisdom. At the time we were newly married and did not have any kids.
But, boy do those words sure ring true now, as I try to find balance supporting my officer husband, our crazy, ever-changing schedule, caring for our two toddlers, and running my own business from home. I did not understand that it meant I would be flying solo to church, to events/parties, to family gatherings, to holiday get together’s, you know all the things you do as a married couple and family. But unfortunately, in law enforcement, patrolling the streets and running the jails, in order to keep the community safe never stops, no matter what day of the year it is, how bad the weather is, or what time of day or night it is!
This role as a police wife has been a real refining process for me. It has made me acknowledge my own insecurities of mothering and being a wife and doing it alone a lot of the time. When my husband works the night shift, that means he cannot attend a lot of functions and is sleeping for a lot of our life during the work week. It is my role to fill in those gaps for our family and put my game face on when he is at work.
It is definitely a family effort to be in law enforcement. My husband does the heavy lifting, sacrificing, protecting, helping, while I manage our home, our kids, our schedule, and try to create a peaceful environment for him to come home to, after a long and stressful night of work.
It is hard some days, and sometimes I do not feel equipped to do this job I have been called to do. I know I am not the only mom who feels this way!
Now anytime I see a woman who is a single parent, or I meet another police wife or military wife, I want to hug her and tell her she is amazing and is doing a great job because I fully understand the trials, hardship, and sacrifice she is making while standing beside her husband.
Here are some things that have helped our family adjust to an ever-changing schedule, working nights, and stresses of the job…
- Write it down. I write down our schedule every month. That way we are on the same page. We know when my husband works and when we have our “weekends,” so we can plan accordingly. Staying organized helps us to enjoy our family time and manage the busyness.
- Connect. We make sure my husband and I connect every day when he wakes up in the afternoon. He tells me how his night went, and I tell him how our night/day has been. Taking that time each working day to talk, connect, and check-in is vital to our marriage relationship, so we can be in each other’s lives, and encourage each other even when we are separated for more than 18 hours a day. When we are connected in our relationship we can face any hardship together and be even stronger for it.
- Set aside family time each working day. For us that is dinner time until bedtime, or playtime with the kids after naps and daddy is awake. We make it a priority to spend quality time together as a family as much as we can. When the family dynamic is good, my husband can stay focused and energized at work.
- Protect your time off. When my husband is off from work he needs time to unwind, relax, and settle into a new schedule, from working nights. That means the first day off we try not to schedule too much, and just be together as a family. Learning not to over schedule my husband or our family on weekends has been key for us to avoid burnout!
- Pray more worry less. As mom’s I feel like we are wired to worry. This is a constant struggle for me, especially when my husband leaves for work. Will he make it home safely? If I am tired and stressed, I tend to worry unnecessarily. When the job or our home life is stressful, it is so helpful to have an outlet to fill up your empty cup. Our faith is definitely our saving grace in this profession. When we are feeling weary, doubtful, or fearful, we pray for strength, renewal, courage, and hope. Because without our faith and relationship with the Lord, we could not get through the hard things, or have hope for what is to come. We are also big exercisers which is a healthy form of stress relief for both of us!
- Reach out and ask for help. It can be hard for me to ask others for help when I need it. But the truth is we were created to be in community, and not rely on our own strength to survive. We need the help of others, so ask a friend, family member, church member for help. Know when you need a break and reach out so you can rest and recharge.
If you have a friend or know a woman who is a law enforcement wife, military wife, or fire wife…. reach out to her. Ask her how she is doing. Offer her a meal, or a break, or a cup of coffee. Chances are she is needing some encouragement.
As women and moms, I think it is so important to love and encourage each another, to lift each other up, and listen to each other’s struggles.
It is truly an honor to walk alongside my husband in our journey of Law Enforcement. I am in awe of the bravery I see and hear about every day by the officers protecting our city and helping people in their struggles, but also the families behind those officers, who sacrifice, encourage, and love them.
Sarah Kelly is a wardrobe consultant and mom to two toddlers. She has been married to her police officer husband, Brian for 8 years. They are transplants from Denver Colorado. They felt called back to the Midwest to raise their family and are loving a simpler life in Ankeny.
Sarah has a style blog, The Haute Homemaker, and owns Closet Curating, a personal styling business, where she teaches busy women to style their wardrobes and simplify their lives. When Sarah is not sharing outfitting ideas on Instagram, building toy trains, or dancing in the living room, you’ll find her lacing up her running shoes and heading to the nearest trail, discovering new places in Des Moines, and creating new recipes in her farmhouse kitchen. Her passion is teaching and encouraging women to grow into the women God created them to be.