Parenting Tips: Staying Connected with Your Child While Traveling
Just last week, another working mom friend and I were talking about how stressed out she is by frequent travel overseas and how she hopes to transition into a job that lets her be closer to her kids more often. Thankfully, I don’t travel a lot and unlike my friend, I don’t travel internationally for work on a regular basis. But I am on a business trip this week for a few days and away from my nearly-five-year-old daughter. I am anxious to get home but it got me thinking of ways to stay connected to my child while on the road for work.
A few things I do and have tried:
Let your child help you pack. For some reason, helping me pack seems to help my daughter adjust to the idea of me being gone. She is helpful and gives me advice on what to pack and offers to put things in my suitcase. If I am stressed out and just want to pack and get it over with, sometimes I don’t appreciate the assistance, but it really does seem to help her.
Call before bedtime. I try to call before she goes to sleep so we can talk about her day. If I am working an event and get a break earlier in the day, then we talk then too.
Text photos. It’s easy to text some photos back and forth. I am always wanting to see photos of my daughter during the day, and it helps me to know she is cared for. Plus it’s fun to make silly faces for the camera.
Set up some special projects to distract your child while you are gone, especially activities that involve other kids and families. I try to set up some special playdates and activities for my daughter while I am gone. We talk about the fun things she will get to do while Mommy is away. This makes the time go a little faster, and also gives my spouse at home a little more breathing room.
Leave special food for your child. I have tried this and it sort of works. My husband doesn’t really like to cook, so on my last business trip, I left frozen pizzas and quesadillas with instructions. While they got some usage, I can’t say they were super popular while I was gone. But they were handy when I got home and needed to get a dinner on the table quickly – I just threw one of the frozen pizzas in the oven and made a salad.
Take a toy on the road with you and send photos showing the toy to your child. I did this once and it didn’t go well. My daughter did not like seeing her toy somewhere else, especially when she wanted to be there too. Lesson learned: this one doesn’t work on my kid.
Be honest about how you feel and allow your child to be honest too. I’ve learned that it’s ok to tell her that I miss her and want to be home with her soon, and that I’m sorry I am going away for a few days, but I know she will be safe and ok. And it’s ok for her to express her feelings about it too. This seems to have helped the separations.
Video chat. We tried this when my daughter was younger and it didn’t work well. She mainly focused her comments on telling me that mommy had to come home NOW. It didn’t help that we tried it right before bedtime when she was having a rough time. This might work better with an older child than a preschooler.
And there are many ideas I wish I had time to try, like a treasure hunt at home while I am gone. I think my daughter would really get into an activity like this, but I would need to plan it really well. Here are a few more tips:
20 Ways to Connect With Your Kids While Traveling
American Express Open Forum
Staying Connected When You Travel
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Talk to Us: How do you stay connected with your child when you are traveling? What tips work for you?
Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media engagement, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites. She blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.