It can be difficult as a truck driver to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Constantly being away from home is difficult and there is never enough time to see everyone and do everything that you would like.
Truck drivers’ lead untraditional lives to make a living and unless you have been a part of the industry, it can be difficult to understand and adjust. So, in keeping with the tradition of being untraditional, why not start thinking about taking your kids with you when you hit the road.
With school and extracurricular activities, you need to carefully consider when your kids will be available to hit the road with you for a week. Summer vacation, spring break, winter break – these are all prime times for the kids. Taking your kids out on the road with you may not seem like the best of ideas, actually it’s probably near the top of the list of worst nightmares for many parents, but the opportunity can be very impactful for the child, provide a great bonding experience and help your children gain a better understanding of what it is exactly you do when you’re away from home for work.
In writing this, I am reminded of a young trucking family. Dad was always heading off to work, being dropped off at the yard, and at the young age of three, the daughter didn’t quite comprehend the fact that Dad was miles away, not just simply sitting at the yard in his truck. This led to much confusion, as the daughter always wanted to take the thirty-minute drive to the yard to go see Dad; leaving Mom to deal with the heartbreaking weeping when this just wasn’t a possibility. It wasn’t until the daughter was taken on a ride along that she fully comprehended Dad was driving all over the place and it took days to get where they were going, and days to get back home.
If you have young children at home, whom you think could be old enough to handle a short trip, this is likely the best way to help them fully understand where you are going and what you are doing. Now, in saying that, trucking with a child is incredibly different from taking a road trip, or taking your spouse on a ride along.
There are many factors to consider before buckling your kid into the jump seat, and decisions to make.
#1 Your In-cab Setup
Before you start planning anything at all, you need to consider your in-cab setup. Is there room for two people? Some cabs only have one bunk that may hardly fit into let alone a child; or, in the case of the double bunk, one is often used for storage. Do you have space to accommodate a child and their possessions along with all the necessities and tools you need for the job?
#2 Working with Your Company
Not all companies have a ride along program, so the first thing to do is ask. In addition, some companies have a ride along program but have a lot of rules that come with them. They may have set guidelines regarding age, duration of the trip, number of allowable trips in a period of time, freight specific allowances, for example: not allowing ride alongs while hauling hazardous materials, and so on.
You will need to ensure you have proper documentation that proves the child is yours – A Birth Certificate. Most likely you will need to show this to your company as well as take it with you to show any law enforcement or DOT officers you encounter on your trip.
With most companies, you will require a company waiver or ride along agreement.
It’s also probably a good idea to carry along a letter from your spouse stating that they are aware that your child is in the truck with you. This letter should contain contact details for your spouse just in case enforcement officers want to complete a follow-up.
A Passport, especially when you’re crossing the border. Make sure you have this even if you’re not planning on crossing the border, just in case your company gets a good load. One thing you want to avoid is upsetting dispatch because your child is running with you.
#4 Picking the Right Route
Think of the runs you take on a regular basis and choose one that you think would be most favourable to you and your child. Do you think your child can handle a longer run, or would a short haul be better? Is it the best idea to take your child through Texas during the unfamiliar seasonably hot temperatures, or through the mountain states during the harsh winter months. Are there particular interests along your regular routes that you know your child would be delighted to see? Are there enough rest areas and truck stops along the way that will be kid appropriate? Or just enough in general? Sleeping in a loading dock or on an off-ramp or a particularly bad part town may not be things you want to do with your child in tow.
Being a truck driver doesn’t mean that you must miss out on the life bonding moments that happen between a parent and a child. You simply just have to adjust your way of thinking and incorporate the untraditional into your life. It can and will be a truly rewarding, and even education trip for your child. More than this, it is bound to be a major highlight for drivers helping to keep the feelings of isolation and abandonment at bay, which makes for a happier, healthier driving career.