I’ve been traveling a lot for work lately. It’s not something I do often and I hate being away from the kids overnight. I also hate to fly. However, I love to travel, see new things and learn about new cultures.
Before children I traveled a lot more often and so did my husband. He would go to Australia for three weeks at a time and I would go to London or San Francisco. But once we were married we knew we would need to back off on travel and we adjusted our jobs so that we could make a family our priority.
In the last six years, neither of us have traveled a lot. He went to Paris for a few days about two years ago and until this fall, I had been home-bound. When we traveled before we were parents we would keep in touch as best we could while we were away, knowing that sometimes we were in very different time zones.
Now that kids are involved, the “best we could” isn’t really good enough. I felt really guilty about leaving the kids and I missed them even before I was gone. I knew how life was when we traveled before kids – we missed a lot of connection points as a couple. I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to still be able to connect with the kids while I was away.
There were a few, simple things that I did to make sure I could connect with the kids each day and let them know I was thinking about them while I was far away.
Keep In Touch With Kids
Make sure you have compatible screen time capabilities
Today we are so lucky. Technology has enabled so much in our world and the fact that we can connect via Skype, FaceTime and other visual technology is a blessing. I love being able to see my kids’ faces at the end of the day, or the beginning. It makes me feel not so far away even if I can’t hug them through the screen. However, my husband and I have phones from different manufacturers and they aren’t always compatible when it comes to face-to-face chatting. If you have this problem make sure you and your spouse or your caretaker have downloaded an app to allow you to take advantage of this technology.
Set a time to talk before you leave and make sure everyone sticks to that time
This goes along with the first point, but it is separately important with different time zones. If you’re a few hours apart or 10 hours, you should set a time to FaceTime or talk each day and make sure you and your spouse stick to that.
Before being parents we would talk whenever we could fit it in. We were somewhere to get a job done and our relationship could flex to allow that to be front and center for the moment. Some times we would go days without being able to connect.
Now flexible isn’t good enough for my kids. My traveling is a disruption for them and many studies support the idea that kids do better on a schedule. If my spouse and I can provide some consistency and some sort of schedule while we are traveling then I believe it will be healthier for the kids.
Send pictures and video throughout the day
When my husband was in Paris he would send us photos of what he was doing and what he was eating (I was super jealous.). As I’ve been traveling around this fall, I did the same thing. When I was in New York last week there was a Christmas light display that I knew my daughter would love so I taped it and sent it to her. My husband said she watched it 10 times that night.
If traveling internationally, make sure you have messaging and other connection abilities
If you travel internationally just do the basic homework and make sure you are set to stay connected. A few years ago we took a family trip to Canada and I couldn’t send text messages because I hadn’t purchased the package ahead of time. I didn’t even think about it though because it was Canada. A good rule of thumb is, if you need a passport then you also need to check with your mobile carrier to make sure you have voice calls, messaging services and video call options.
Make voice and/or video recordings and have your spouse play them before bed
Again, technology is a beautiful thing and I believe it makes the time away a bit easier for the kids. You can easily just make a recording of your voice or a quick video and have your spouse play that for the kids during the day. I pick bedtime because while I’m gone I rarely get to say goodnight to the kids, but when I am home I play a big role in the bedtime routine. I just feels like this softens the missing a bit.
However, this is a case-by-case basis. This is great for my daughter. My son is very attached to me so whenever he sees me and can’t get to me it makes it a bit tougher for him. As he gets older and can understand where I am and that I’m coming back, I know this will be something that will work for him too.
Leave them a little note for each day you are gone
This is something older kids will appreciate, especially if they can read. Everyone likes a little happy mail that says you are loved, right? My daughter likes this because she loves the idea of getting mail and special notes. She understands they are from me and I believe it helps make her day a bit brighter. My son is a bit too young to appreciate this one again, but one day he will get his own little notes.
Luckily, I’m now done traveling without the kids for a while, probably until next fall. The next trip I take will most likely be a vacation they will be with me. If you have to travel soon without your kids, even if it’s just for a getaway with your spouse, try these out and let me know how they work for your family. Happy travels, mamas!
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