Traveling when you have young children and leaving them at home is tough on you and your kids. Finding ways to connect while you are gone is important.
Ways to Connect for the parent who is away:
- phone calls: nightly phone calls are a great way to connect at the end of a long day, and check in every day
- email: If your kids are old enough to read and type, or you have an adult who will help them you can send notes to each other. Jokes are an especially good way to connect.
- chat: if your kids are typing you can chat via gmail. It’s a great way to have a conversation no matter where you are.
- video: If you have webcams you can have a video chat. This is perfect for kids that are young.
- gifts: Bringing a little something back for them let’s your child know you were thinking of them when you were away. It doesn’t have to cost anything (rock collections are great for this!), and you can keep it cheap.
- photos: Be sure to take photos of any sights you see. Then your children can see where you’ve been through your eyes. Even if it is just a hotel room, or a conference room. (show them how boring it was!)
Parents or Caregivers at Home
Maybe you are the parent who is stuck at home. It’s important to know that maintaining your regular routine is important, but that some flexibility and understanding is required.
For my kids the day or time when the parent leaves is the toughest. They are often really sad for a few hours. My 7 year old was sad, so I sent a note to school so her teacher would know.
They often exhibit terrible behavior right before and after someone comes home. It’s such an adjustment, and they usually let all the feelings in they’ve been holding back for days.
5 tips to help the at-home parent or caregiver:
- Maintain the routine: Keeping things the same is a great way to offer kids reassurance that everything is ok.
- Watch: Watch your kids for signs that they are having a tough time. Offer extra cuddles, a book, or just talk with them.
- Be flexible: Remember that sometimes the regular routine will be too much for some kids. If something isn’t working that normally does, try something else.
- Do something fun: Plan to do something fun that would normally be a family activity. Movie night, mini-golf, bowling, apple-picking; something to get them moving and out for awhile so they aren’t reminded of mom or dad every time they turn around.
- Forget the budget and the menu plan: It will be impossible to keep up with everything, so accept that you may spend a little extra while your spouse is away, and you may end up at Chik-Fil-A for dinner 2 out of 7 nights.
You may be wondering what the picture above has to do with traveling without kids. Let me explain.
My husband is traveling this week. He is in Arizona, and we were concerned that the kids would miss him terribly. One child in particular, our oldest girl, hates when people are away. She doesn’t even like it when I go out for the evening. She loves being together as a family.
The morning her dad was leaving she woke up and was so sad to see him leave. She ran up to her room just as he was about to head out the door to the airport and handed him her favorite stuffed animal, a Webkinz Penguin she named Pengee.
We made sure to talk every day and any of the kids who wanted to talk to Daddy could. Ideally we would have been able to use iChat with our Macs, but the hubby had a lot going on, and no internet in his hotel.
Instead he sent MMS messages to my iPhone of the Penguin all over the place.
Below are the shots he sent. I think they are adorable.