Beginners Guide to Pilot Wife Life
So you're married to a pilot and are wondering how on earth you're supposed to survive this unpredictable and at times, crazy, pilot wife lifestyle?
You've come to the right place. I've been with my pilot for over 11 years and have been through regional and major airline jobs, as well as two difficult pregnancies, one while he was away training. I run 2 businesses as well as doing some casual work on the side and raising our 2 very active children. I'm here to show you that it is possible to survive this lifestyle and even make it work to your advantage so you can end up loving it.
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What is Pilot Wife Life Really Like?
Lots of people might imagine that life when you're married to a pilot is an endless journey of first class flights spent sipping champagne while you travel around the world visiting exotic locations.
If your pilot has the right kind of job, you may occasional jag a first class seat but for the most part it looks more like attending numerous social events solo, juggling kids and their activities all on your own and coming home after a rough day at work and not being able to even call your other half to blow off steam because they're on a flight.
So why would anyone willingly sign up for the role of pilot wife?
If you've found the person you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with and they happen to be a pilot (or the love of your life decides their dream is to become a pilot) then you don't always have a choice in the situation. That said, there are ways to make this lifestyle a lot more manageable and even enjoyable.
How to Get Started with Pilot Wife Life
If you've decided that this person is worth putting up with the highs, the lows, the uncertainties, the ever changing goalposts of aviation, then having a great flight plan with alternates for when turbulence hits, is one of the best ways you can arm yourself to succeed in an aviation relationship.
Tips for Success
Mindset plays a huge part in how you are going to handle the highs and the lows that come along with aviation (and probably most) relationships. If you focus on all the negatives, then you will feel like this life is an uphill battle. If you can roll with the tough times and celebrate the benefits then it will help you travel a little lighter through this life.
Be Flexible - there is almost nothing consistent or guaranteed when it comes to aviation rosters. Teaching yourself to be flexible with your plans and expectations can help reduce frustration and disappointments. Changes can happen right up until the last minute at times so be prepared for this.
Make time for you - it can be so easy to get wrapped up in the chaos of solo parenting, roster uncertainty, waiting for your pilot to be home that you can forget to make time for you. Angelia from The Pilot Wife Life has a great blog post on learning how to F.L.Y - First Love Yourself. You can read it here.
Communication is vital in an aviation relationship. You can't rely on just spending time together or catching up in the evening after work, so you need to have a plan in place that works for you and your situation. This will vary depending on your individual situation but regular communication via a combination of video chat apps, texting during the day and phone calls is a good start. If you're in different countries, make sure you have a phone plan that supports international calls or investigate some of the web based platforms such as What's App and Viber.
Knowing your partner's love language will go a long way to helping you ensure that you are communicating with them and showing them they're loved in the way they receive love. If you don't know what I'm referring to, I strongly recommend reading the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. He also has a version designed specifically for Military Families which also has valuable tips for aviation families too.
Common Questions About Pilot Wife Life
What Do You Do When Your Pilot is Away?
This will depend a lot on your specific situation, however things like having a hobby or a side business will help keep you occupied during times when you would otherwise spend time with your pilot. Something that allows you to pick it up when you have time and leave it to the side when your pilot is home and you are spending quality time with them.
Remember don't lose your sense of identity. Who were you before you met your pilot? What did you love? Either make the effort to stay engaged with these activities or seek out something similar that works for you now.
How Do You Celebrate Special Days When Your Pilot is Away on the Day?
Part of this depends on whether it's a day when the rest of the country is celebrating too like Christmas or a personal celebration like birthday and anniversaries.
For personal celebrations keep in mind it's up to you when you choose to celebrate. You may wish to do something special to mark the day such as arranging a delivery to your pilot's hotel room or hiding a special gift or note in his luggage before he leaves. You can also save the celebrations until you're together again.
Children's birthdays can be celebrated both on the day and when both parents are home. What kid is going to complain about twice the celebration?
For more widely celebrated events there are a few different ways to approach them. There are some suggestions on our "What To Do When The Christmas Roster is Crap" post which you should be able to apply to other celebrations as well.
What Do I Do When Something Breaks/Goes Wrong?
If something breaks when your pilot is on a trip (and you can guarantee it will) and it's usually something they would attend to, you have a couple of options.
If your pilot is contactable, you can always call or text and ask if they have any tips for you.
If not and it's an urgent fix, google and You Tube are great for offering suggestions and solutions for many common and not so common issues.
Having a list of contacts easy to access will make emergencies less stressful. You can access our free Emergency Contact printable list here and have a number of trades and repair people at your fingertips.
Who Can I Ask For Help When We Don't Live Near Family?
Building a network of friends is invaluable. I know this can be difficult, especially if you move frequently or are more partial to staying at home than heading out and socialising, however your social network is invaluable when you live away from family and old friends.
There are a number of different ways you can meet others and build friendships such as meetup.com, mothers/play groups, gyms and sporting clubs and even online groups.
You can find a list of pilot wife Facebook groups here and some of them are location specific to help you find your tribe.
How Do I Help Our Children Cope With All the Absences?
If your partner was a pilot when your kids were born then this is their normal. Help them to focus on the positive aspects of this lifestyle. Sure they miss some events but they also get to be home at times when lots of other parents may be working. Make the most of these times and let your pilot spend time with the kids whenever possible.
Lots of aviation families choose to homeschool as they find it more compatible with the lifestyle. Pam Gann is a pilot wife who blogs about homeschooling her 2 children and their travels as well. You can find her blog and lots of great advice at www.pamgann.com.
There are lots of different tips and tricks to help provide comfort for younger children that you can read about in this post Ways to Comfort Your Child When Your Pilot is Away.
If you want to hear from other pilot kids you can watch this video by The Flight Wife, Taniya.
The Last Thing You Need To Know About Pilot Wife Life
This lifestyle is not for the faint of heart. There are going to be times that will be harder than others.
Find ways to remind yourself of the reasons you fell in love with your partner in the first place. Put your relationship first and maintain your communication with each other.
Having strategies and support in place will help you navigate the ups and downs with a greater chance at success.
If you've found this post helpful, I'd be so grateful if you could share it with others who you think may benefit.
What are your best tips for someone new to this lifestyle?