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5 parenting tips for truck drivers

No one understands the joys and pains of regularly coming home and turning right around and leaving again like a truck driver with a family. Life as a parent and a truck driver is a challenging but rewarding combination. For regional and OTR drivers, a few days of time in person has to sustain drivers through days or weeks away. Even when you’re home, as a long haul trucker, the transition home can take its toll.  Make time for yourself and your family while you’re on the road and when you come home. Here are a few parenting tips to help you make the most of your family time.

1. Master Good Communication

Facetime, Skype, and Zoom are all great video calling platforms that have a free plan for users. Especially with younger children, being able to see and hear each other is huge. Even when you’re away, your kids will know your voice and be excited to see you when you walk through the door.

Connect with your children in a way that works for them. If you have small kids, read them a bedtime story every night. Or, have a family movie night once a week. If you have older children, they might not want to video chat. Instead, send them messages throughout the day. Find out what’s going on in their lives and stay on top of the little things as well as the big ones.

Bunni

For many drivers, spending time with loved ones has gotten even more difficult since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bunni, an OTR driver and mother shared, “I have one daughter. Before Coronavirus I was seeing her at least every other week. Now, she’s self-isolating at her grandparents’ farm. I probably won’t see her for a while because of that. We talk on the phone daily. We use Marco Polo, house party, Instagram, and snap chat as well.”

She added, “Kids will tell you everything if you’re a safe space for them. And sometimes you have to ask better questions than “how was your day” and “what did you do”. Try deeper questions. Ask how they feel about something they did. Or if they had anything happen that made them happy for someone else. The more specific the question the better. And once they start talking, stay engaged. Don’t just “mmhmm” their stories.”

2. Make the Most of Home Time

Even superhero parents can’t do everything. When you come home, you’re probably sharing time between a partner, your kid(s) and trying to rest up for your next shift.

Before you get home, prioritize the most important events & make a schedule. A schedule helps you make the most of your time while also allowing yourself recovery time.

When you make that schedule, there’s one very important rule. Be realistic, even when it’s hard. Kids will be disappointed if you can’t make it to an event. But, they’ll be devastated when you say you’ll be somewhere or do something and then cancel last minute. If you do have the energy to squeeze in an extra little league game or dance recital, they’ll be thrilled when you surprise them and show up.

3. Involve Your Kids

One of the best ways to be a part of your kids’ lives is to let them be a part of yours. If you have a take home truck program, show them your truck. Let them ask questions and sit behind the wheel. As they get older, tell them about the places you go and what it really means to be a truck driver.

Before you leave for your next load, let your family help plan your time away. Even if you don’t follow it exactly, they’ll love mapping your route and know where you are when you next call. You can even give each person a special job for while you’re out. It’s a great way to start conversations and connect.

Marion

We spoke to Marion, a truck driver who shared her parenting tips from driving OTR with 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

“[When I was raising kids] I did regional, home on the weekends. My advice would be to listen to your kids. Especially to the things they don’t say. Make electronics your friend and video chat with them daily,” shared Marion.

She continued, “Teenagers are difficult no matter what. Don’t let things go by because you might have a bad conscience not being there. Stay in touch, let them know they can talk to you. Be a parent, even when you’re not physically there. It’s hard at times, but they will thank you later.”

4. Don’t Forget about Your Partner

Not all parenting tips are about the kids! As you share time with your children, don’t forget to make time for just you and your partner. It’s important time for both of you, and it’s good for your kids in the long run.

Set honest expectations about the shortcomings of trucking jobs. Your partner is sharing in the good, the bad, and the ugly, so be frank about what you both need. A key part of your communication is conflict resolution. Establish a healthy way to discuss conflicts before you need it. That way, you won’t spend your time at home solving all the problems you didn’t want to talk about.

5. Be Kind to Yourself

Transitions are hard and you’ll be making a lot of them. All the parenting tips in the world won’t help if you aren’t taking care of yourself on the road and when you’re home. Be kind to yourself and your family.

Take time for sleep, exercise, and healthy meals. Find your balance between time together and time by yourself.

Know that you’ll make mistakes sometimes. Decide what you can do differently next time, sincerely apologize if you need to, and then move forward. Make sure you do what you can both on and off the job to be the partner and parent you want to be.

Single Parent OTR Trucking

If you’re a single parent ready to start driving, you have a few extra considerations. It is definitely possible to work OTR, but it’s important to consider preparation and timing. All long haul families need a good support network, and that is particularly true for single parents.

Both you and your kids will need help from others sometimes. Have those people in place before you get started and know who you can count on in any situation. You should also think about the timing of your decision. Older kids can be involved differently than young children and may be more understanding and supportive of your decision.

Separated Families with One OTR Parent

As with single parenting while an OTR driver, life over the road as a divorced or separated parent has unique challenges. No matter what, the most important thing you can do is prioritize your child. That also means working to maintain good communication between parents (even when it’s not easy). As much as possible, strive to be consistent in your home time.

Even in the best situations where both parents are trying to make the connection work, scheduling is hard. You’re both working around each other’s schedules and sometimes you may have to make hard compromises.

At the end of the day, make sure you weigh the cost of an OTR vs. a local job. OTR jobs typically pay more, but you give up a lot of time in your child’s life. If OTR is still the right decision for you, be prepared to work closely with the stay at home parent and use these parenting tips to find creative ways to connect with your child both on and off the job.

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Today’s Job of the Day comes to us from Pohl Transportation

Pohl Transportation is a family-owned and operated company, hiring out of OH, IN, IL, PA, NJ, KY, TN.

pohl transportationPohl offers $.48-50/mile, depending on experience. Pohl drivers can expect to average 2,300-2,800 miles per week and get home weekly for a minimum of 34-48 hours. In addition, their dry van freight is 98% no-touch and 55% drop and hook.

Also, Pohl offers per diem, annual safety bonuses, layover, holiday, vacation, detention, breakdown, and longevity pay. Group health insurance starts after 90 days.

In addition, they offer a full time rider program and pet policy. Lastly, Pohl provides a $4000 sign on and referral bonus!

Currently, they are hiring the following CDL A driver positions:

Overall, Pohl asks that candidates have a valid CDL class A with minimum 1 year verifiable experience, be at least 22 years of age, and can pass a DOT physical and drug screen.

Interested in applying?

Learn more about the job requirements, benefits, pay and more.

Learn More: Regional Learn More: OTR

OTR truck driver

Working as an OTR truck driver is radically different from other trucking jobs. These hauls are the longest, taking you coast-to-coast and likely away from home for lengthy periods of time. You would basically be living out of your truck, but if your company has invested in fleet amenities, it’s not a bad deal. You’ll spend many hours driving and few hours resting. But what about everything else?

Here’s a look at the typical day in the life as an over the road truck driver to get a better sense of how they go about their daily routine.

OTR truck driverSleep

Most OTR truck drivers wake up early. Depending on your delivery schedule, you may have to adjust your sleep habits so that you sleep earlier at night at wake up before dawn. If you’re not an early bird, you’re either going to struggle a bit with the schedule, or you can try your luck asking for jobs where you don’t have to start early. Sometimes OTR drivers time their departures based on expected traffic patterns at certain hours. Most OTR semi-trucks have a twin-size bed that will pull down from the wall. In extreme weather, many truckers will choose to stay at truck stops, rest areas, or motels, to avoid losing sleep.

You’ll likely spend over 10 hours of the day driving, so you don’t want to skimp on rest. If you’re sleeping in the semi-truck and in a parking area, try to find a parking space away from other trucks and loud noises.

Using foam earplugs is also a smart choice so you can block out sounds which will be disturbing.

Make sure you set three different wake-up alarms- you don’t want to be late and miss your delivery window! Remember you’ll need some pre-drive time to run a safety inspection on your truck before leaving. Another tip veteran OTR drivers give newbies is that they should avoid caffeine during the second half of the shift, to ensure a restful night of sleep.

otr truck driverShowers

Maintaining good hygiene while driving over the road can be tricky. Most OTR truck drivers end up taking showers at truck stops. You can purchase a shower use while at a truck stop- they’ll give you a receipt with your number and security code. Bring your shower caddy with soap and shampoo and whatever else you need.

It’s just important is to bring and wear shower shoes- you don’t want to be stuck with toe fungus.

Sometimes OTR truckers will get a free shower with a fuel purchase, so these can add up. If you’re short on shower credits, its not uncommon to politely ask other drivers if they can spare a shower credit. Then you can pay it forward in the future.

If you’re showering at the truck stop, your best times to take a shower are early morning or late night. If you wait till the showers are the least busy, you not only save time with a shorter wait, but are likely to encounter a much cleaner and sanitized shower. If you’re not a fan of truck stop showers, you can consider purchasing a portable shower kit. This is a common practice with campers, since it allows you to take a shower wherever you are. This is a good solution for those driving in rural locations or if you’re facing a tight deadline.

otr truck driverMeals

We’ve written before about meals and cooking on our blog. That’s because meals are an essential part of lifestyle which OTR truck drivers cannot afford to neglect! Unfortunately, too many truck drivers find few options for meals while driving, and then stop by at diners or fast food joints to grab a quick bite. Veteran drivers will tell you that this is fine every now and again, but you shouldn’t rely on restaurants as the only option.

If you’re always eating out, eventually it will add up in terms of dollars, not to mention calories.

Your waistline will thank you if you invest in healthier (and cheaper) eating habits. Unfamiliar restaurants are unreliable too, and you may end up spending $20 on a really mediocre burger.

Many OTR drivers have embraced cooking! If your truck has a few amenities, then you can make some simple but hearty meals while on the road. If nothing else, invest in a crockpot. This handy device can help make hundreds of different means in a very quick and convenient fashion. You can share recipes with your family and other drivers as well. Smart snacking has also helped truck drivers who are looking to stay in shape. If you’re interested in finding good eateries, use apps like Yelp to search for quality restaurants which won’t break the bank.

Parking

Parking can be notoriously difficult for OTR truck drivers. Ideally, you’d be stopping at a truck stop and parking there. However, there are limited spaces and the later you arrive the fewer chances of finding a parking spot. Truck drivers also try parking at the location of the shipper or receiver. If there is a dock door, you can sometimes park right next to that. It will help to call ahead of time and get their permission to park there. While it is not ideal, sometimes truckers park near hardware stores or grocery stores. If doing so, make sure to check with the business owners. Often they won’t mind and will let you park there, or can direct you to the nearest truck parking

If you’re trying to park at a truck stop, plan ahead of time. Consult a truck stop directory and try to arrive early. Wherever you park, make sure it is a less congested area with no traffic.

When in doubt, ask business owners, local authorities, or the shipper/receiver about nearest truck parking

Don’t forget that safety is a big issue when it comes to parking, so check everything with dispatch. Check out some cool apps that help you find truck parking spots across the country.

Relationships

Have no doubt about it, OTR truck drivers maintain a tough schedule. You’ll be on the road for more than a week before going home and getting a break. This takes a toll on home time, especially on family and relationships. The trade-off is that you may have more days at home with family before the next job takes you out again.

Keeping in touch with family while over the road can be tough, but not impossible.

There are many things you can do to stay connected with loved ones while away. Come up with some innovative ways to connect beyond just phone calls.

Many couples share recipes and plan to have the same meal together at the same time. Chatting on Skype or FaceTime allows you to have a virtual date despite the miles between you. Share a Spotify playlist or other music platform and you’ll know your partner will be listening to some of the same tunes during the day. Many truckers take photos of interesting sights they see across the country to share with their partners. You don’t need the latest technology to connect. Play a game of 20 questions or other ways to pass time with your partner. You’ll be surprised about how many new things you can learn about each other regardless of how long you’ve been together!

Over the road trucking isn’t for everyone since it takes you away from home for a long time. Still, many truckers enjoy the experience because they get the chance to travel, see the country, and meet interesting people. Keep these daily habits and helpful tips in mind whether you’re a veteran OTR truck driver or a novice deciding whether OTR is for you.

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When It Comes to Grilling, This Truck Driver is Right on

Part of Drive My Way’s ‘Big Rigs and Barbecue’ Series

When Charlie Clark says she grew up on a truck, she’s not exaggerating. The long-haul truck driver, an owner operator leased to Larry Gary, really has been in trucking “for the long haul”—ever since she was 2 weeks old.

An Alabama native, Clark is a child of the highway. She was raised by her father, a truck driver. And while Clark inherited her father’s love of the road, she likewise inherited his passion for barbecue.

Charlie with her fiance, Matt Horne

Clark with her fiance, Matt Holmes

“My daddy always had a grill with us on the truck growing up,” Clark says. “I was all up in his face when he was grilling, so he could either teach me or I was going to become annoying.”

Clark’s father, a southerner from Oklahoma, had wanted a son. So he named his girl Charlie. But it didn’t take Clark long to prove that when it comes to barbecue, she can hang with the big boys.

“The first thing I did on my own was I smoked a brisket when I was 11 years old,” recalls Clark, who was home schooled on the truck yet graduated from high school a year early. “We used to make deer jerky all the time. I’ve been making jerky since I was 7 or 8. That’s like second nature to me.”

Clark recalls catching grasshoppers at age 6 and using them as fish bait; constructing makeshift grills at campsites; and barbecuing with her dad at the lake.

“I did a lot of rabbit as a kid,” Clark says. “I’d kill ‘em and skin ‘em and grill ‘em. Grilling is in my blood.”

Truck Driver Is Right on Today, Clark teams with her fiancé, Matt Holmes. When they’re off the clock from their CDL trucking jobs, Clark prefers making steaks and barbecued ribs. She coats her ribs with a homemade dry rub, marinates them in whiskey or beer and lets them sit in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Clark cooks her ribs on an 18-inch grill, cutting the slab in half so they’ll fit.

“My concoctions differ,” says Clark of her dry rubs. “Some of them will be spicy, some won’t.” Cayenne, garlic, some secret seasoning she picks up in Florida, it all depends on which meat Clark is cooking.

Clark uses her 18-inch grill for cooking nearly anything.

Clark uses her 18-inch grill for cooking nearly anything, such as these chicken-fried steaks.

So what’s Clark’s secret to making great barbecue? “Time and patience,” she says. “Anybody can cook a hot dog, but it takes patience to cook a steak or a brisket just right.”

The last time Clark cooked brisket, it was on her 18-inch grill. “Nobody’s sleeping,” she says of the experience. Clark wrapped her brisket in aluminum foil and let it cook on low heat for 29 hours. It turned out great, she says.

“Barbecuing is our time to relax and kick back,” Clark says. “It gets us outside the truck. It’s the equivalent of going home for the weekend.”

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