When you love your family but you're passionate about your career, it's important to create work life balance. This is especially true when your job takes you away from home. While traveling is enticing, you need to make a point to stay connected with your kids. Thankfully there are video conferencing apps like Skype and UberConference that can help you here, along with a whole host of other creative ideas as well.
Prepare Ahead of Time for Your Child to Miss You
Solo parenting for your spouse, while you're away, is stressful. They must deal with your children whining for your presence. This is why routines are so important. Not only will they allow your child to have some stability but your spouse to have some alone time.
Although you're traveling, there are still some things that you can do to help everyone who's still at home. Parents reminds us that it's important that we check in and touch base every day. By scheduling a time to talk to your child each day, not only will they enjoy hearing your voice but they'll also allow you to share what's going on in your lives and discuss any concerns. This is especially important for older children who know when you'll be calling to focus solely on them for a few minutes. They'll enjoy using fun video chat apps to keep in touch too – think Skype and Facetime. These allow you to play games and even watch special TV shows together too.
You can also leave behind a few notes for your spouse to include in your child's lunchbox. It can be as simple as “I love you” or as complex as a funny riddle. If your child doesn't carry a lunchbox, stick a note inside their book bag instead. They'll still appreciate knowing that you're thinking of them in the middle of their school day. For those who feel really creative, sit down with your child then trace and decorate your handprints so you both have each other's hand to hold when you need it most.
Leave Behind Things That Remind Your Child of You
While at home, make sure you cook as much as possible. Enjoy making and eating homemade meals together with them instead of always eating out. The Huffington Post reminds us that no child is too small to measure, stir, or pour something as simple as French toast. You can even freeze some of these meals for your child to enjoy when you're on the road traveling again.
This isn't the only thing you can leave behind for your child. Psychology Today says that you can remind them of you by leaving behind things like:
· Cards: Write a few to stash in places where your child will find them – a toy chest, lunch bag, backpack, or a favorite shoe. Include affirmations that tell your child how much you believe in, respect, and admire him. Don't be soupy and inauthentic. Be short and genuine. This will brighten his day and remind him that he's loved.
· Notes: Leave behind notes that pertain to the specific activities that will happen that week. This could be a word of encouragement about a sporting game, a “good luck” wish for a project he's been working on, a supportive note about an upcoming test, or a message telling them to have fun at a party. Place these in a sealed envelope with the date on it so he can open it on the right day.
· Craft supplies: This is a great way to have your child feel closer to you while you're away, but don't pressure them into doing this. Simply give your child the option to use colored paper, markers, glue, and glitter to make a special picture or card for you.
When parenting a younger child, try to leave something of yours behind. Whether a shirt or a photo this helps reduce separation anxiety. Since this anxiety is especially bad around bedtime you may also want to videotape yourself reading a book that they can watch at this time of the night.
Bring Special Items Home for Your Child
While you want to connect with your child, you don't want to call him incessantly. This just makes the separation even harder, which will frustrate your spouse. At the same time you'll also find it harder to take care of your work responsibilities because you won't be as focused. This is especially true if your child is allowed to call you at any time, about anything.
Instead, what you want to do is return ready to spend time catching up with your child – hearing what's gone on in their lives and sharing about what's happened in yours. Although you may feel you need some down time, remember your child feels you've already been away and had that time. This is why you need to walk in the door, ready to hug and kiss your children and spend 15 – 20 minutes catching up with them. Afterwards you can say you need to shower or unpack. This is a natural transition which will prevent your child from taking it too personally.
Making your return as positive as your departure is important. Only then will your child not be so anxious the next time you have to travel. This is also why Parents recommends bringing home a small gift for your child. While you don't want to bring them something extravagant, you do want to make sure that it relates to their interests. This not only shows your child how much they mean to you but if you've left them a craft project to do for you while you're away, it ensures that you have a gift to reciprocate with.
Separation can make the heart grow fonder – if done right. It gives you a reprieve from the responsibility and stress of caring for your child while your child learns self-reliance and independence which increases his self-esteem. You just need to learn how to make things work so that when you return you know everything is just fine.