Making family time a priority
Family Day: Hensels make the most of being together when dad is home
Wednesday, Feb 14, 2018 11:28 am
When time together is scarce, families adjust to make the most of their days.
The Hensel family, of Okotoks, has been getting used to its new dynamic for nearly one year. When Jakob Hensel started building homes in Invermere and Fairmont last June, wife Michelle and daughters Makkenna and Jaidyn stayed in Okotoks.
“He could come back on the weekends or every second week, he’s not too far away,” said Michelle. “But it’s far enough.”
Sometimes even a long weekend is no guarantee. Michelle said she’s not sure Jakob will make it home for Family Day, if there are construction projects that need to be finished. Since he works for himself, lost time means lost wages, she said.
It’s tough planning family time when it’s up in the air, but they do the best they can, she said.
“You just basically try to spend as much time as possible with each other, just plan to go to movies and things like that as a family when he’s home,” said Michelle. “We try not to have the girls go and hang out with their friends when he’s here, just because they never get to see him during the week.”
Both daughters are active in competitive sports – Jaidyn in gymnastics and Makkenna in dance – so mom is busy shuttling the girls around to training sessions and competitions both in town and away.
Sometimes Jakob is able to travel to competitions, but it can’t always happen.
“It depends on where they are and whether he has to get certain jobs done there if he can come or not,” said Michelle. “It’s hard for him not to be able to be there.”
It’s been a difficult adjustment for the family of four, but Michelle said after eight months it’s getting a little easier. They’ve settled into the routine of having Jakob home or away, and they make the most of the moments they have together.
It’s hard on Jakob too, because he’s not able to be around and help out with household tasks or even driving the girls to their practices. Michelle said they talk regularly on the phone, but it’s just not the same not having him at home.
Having her husband away for months has helped Michelle gain a little more confidence in her own abilities, though. In some ways, she’s learned how to rely more on herself and find her own strengths doing things on her own.
“I always relied on him for everything, so now it’s like, ‘Oh hey, I can do that,’” she said.
It doesn’t always work out that way. During the summer, she struggled to remove a hose from an outdoor tap and was struck by the fact she couldn’t call on her husband to help out.
There are other odd jobs that arise, which Michelle makes note of for when Jakob is back in town.
“It’s just little things I need him for but I can’t have him,” she said. “We basically save those things for when he’s home – ‘Can you do this, can you do this, can you drive the kids today so I don’t have to?’”
Even simple tasks like making meals took some adjusting to, she said. Shifting from cooking dinner for four people to one adult and two children doesn’t sound very different, but it was more difficult than Michelle thought it would be.
“It’s really weird,” she said. “You’re basically a single parent but you’re not. It’s tough.”