While I spent many years at a stay at home parent and rarely left my kids at home, we’ve entered a new stage of life where I travel fairly frequently (a little more than twice a month on average including day trips). My husband on the other hand rarely travels for work so it’s taken some adjusting to get to know what works for our family while mommy is away from home.
My top seven tips for staying connected while you’re away may not fit with yours so I’d love to hear in the comments what works for your family.
7 Tips for Smooth Travel Transitions
- Make time at home count: Before you leave try to make some time to ignore the frenzy of getting ready to go and focus on your kids for a bit. Reading a book, cooking their favorite dinner, and just talking to them are all simple ways that can help you connect and help them know how much you care. Today this post was delayed because I was doing just that. Spending time with them, playing, and taking care of them this morning when they were grumpy and not feeling well.
- Send photos: This is where having a smartphone rocks-you can send text photos of places and things from the interesting to the mundane. Whether it’s Mr. So-and-So (a simple smiley face on your finger) who travels with you everywhere, a stuffed animal that goes along for the ride, or odd puzzle photos for older kids. (think upside down images, closeups of objects they have to guess, etc.)
- Skype: I swear I’m not a paid ambassador for Skype even if I constantly shout from the rooftops how much I love Skype, but I use it all the time including with the kids when I’m away from home. It helps them chat with me, but more importantly they get to make silly faces and see themselves on screen.
- Start a collection: I wish I had done this sooner, but picked up this tip from Julie (just-precious.com) who brings her kids keychains from wherever she visits. Inexpensive, fun and a little touristy, and the kids love it.
- Plan a day of rest: Plan a day when you come home to just be with your family and re-acclimatize to real life. Sadly you don’t get turn down service, fresh towels, and grown up conversation in real life. If you can manage to schedule your return so you can have a family day, and a day to decompress without the family around even better. (though I know this is rare)
- Let go of the guilt: Whether you are a frequent traveler or a first timer don’t let the guilt of missing out on a few days get in the way of going or enjoying yourself. After all I’m sure your kids are having great fun being spoiled by grandparents, snuck to McDonald’s by Daddy (or Mommy), or loving their time with their favorite sitter.
- Sometimes it’s better not to call: I know it sounds heartless but whether you’re dealing with a child who is too young to understand your absence (and tries to eat the phone) or a child who is sensitive to before bedtime calls, consider not calling home. My kids are usually way too busy to want to chat on the phone, but sometimes it’s my issue-I’m missing them and calling might make me want to jump on the next plane home.