I remember when I was maybe five or so, and my father had a work trip. I always missed him when he left and my mom tried to find a way to make it easier on me. Now that I’m a mother myself, I see how hard it is on my daughters when one of us leaves. I will say, we are incredibly fortunate that we are not away from our children often. Other than an occasional work trip or friends weekend, that has really been it, although we could use a kid free vacation! So, when my husband does have a work trip, I remember what my mom used to do for me. Here are a few tips on what to do when a parent is away.
Since my husband only has a work trip once or twice a year, it is a big disruption to our life. One thing that definitely helps is trying to maintain our normal routine as much as possible. My girls are three and one, so they always do better when we keep to a routine or when they know what to expect.
Facetime or Phone Calls
This is one time where I am so thankful for phones! Whenever my husband is away for a work trip, our family’s favorite part is being able to video chat every night. Even though my daughters are only 1 and 3 years old, just being able to see their dad always puts a smile on their face. It helps them feel better and know that he is still here. If possible, it is even better if you can set a routine for when they will be able to video chat, because it gives them something to look forward to.
Depending on the age of your child, you can do this in a few different ways. Since my girls are younger, we just count “how many sleeps until Daddy is back”. This puts a time frame my daughter understands (bedtime) in order to help her see when her dad will return. I’ve also heard of printing out a blank calendar to cross off each day together, or a paper chain. Of course, my daughter still asked almost a hundred times a day about his return.
Pack a Friend
This was a tradition I stole from my mom! Whenever my father would go on work trips, she would let me pick a doll or stuffed animal to send with him. My dad would tell me about the “adventures” he would take them on while on his trip. This always made me feel like I was a part of his trip. Most recently we had my daughter’s Minnie Mouse go with my husband. Since my daughter has two Minnies, my daughter and husband would each hug their perspective Minnie mouse, as if giving each other a hug.
A Hug That Lasts
My husband most recently started this with our daughter when we’ve dropped her off at daycare. When he gives her a goodbye hug, he makes it “extra tight” and a little longer. Then he tells her that it is a “big hug to last all day.” Although we haven’t tried this while one of us has been gone longer than a day, this has seemed to help with any stress she has had about being dropped off.
Although it is hard on everyone when one of the parents is away, these little things have really helped my family adjust to the temporary change. I hope you’ve found something here that can help your family too!
Make sure you never miss out on a parenting or community-related blog post: sign up to receive CRMB posts in your inbox. While you’re at it, join our VIP List to ensure you’re one of the first to know about upcoming Cedar Rapids Moms Blog events and promotions!!