It’s no secret the traveling parent has a challenging time staying connected to loved ones when leaving home is part of his or her career. Children may become accustomed to having a parent absent for long periods of time but that doesn’t mean that kids don’t miss their parent dearly.
Here are some fun and unique ways for families to bond and communicate when a parent travels.
Make a travel calendar
The traveling parent can sit down with kids and draw a large diagram of where he will be going and what he will be doing. In our case, it was Dad. Dad can sketch it and the kids can color it and hang it on the wall. It’s fun for them to mark off the days until he returns.
Send emails or photos
How fun is it for a child to come home and know there may be a silly email or photo from Mommy? Or better yet a movie embedded in the email. With today’s technology you may want to consider investing in a computer with a built in video camera. Children love to get video messages from their parent. You can even bring one of their stuffed animals with you, wave it in front of the camera and give a report on how the animal is enjoying the trip.
Leave gifts behind
When my husband travels I get my son a little trinket or toy and put it on his nightstand for when he awakes. He jumps up and knows it’s from daddy. Some parents are against this type of indulging, however, my son carries the toy with him all day and tells everyone that his daddy left him a surprise because he is traveling. The sweet love in my son’s eyes and the appreciation he shows is definitely worth the $4.99 that I pay for the item.
Make mini videos before you travel
The night before I leave for a business trip I make a few quick funny videos for the kids to watch while I am gone. I do it on my computer and leave it for Daddy to play back. It takes five minutes for me to film and the kids truly look forward to seeing mommy on the computer talking when I am out of town. You can even have a friend or your spouse video tape and play it back on the camera for the kids.
Schedule “group” good-night phone calls
Call home ten minutes before the kids go to bed and have the family put the phone on speaker. All can join the discussion and talk about their day. You can even sing songs or tell jokes to make the night end on a light and happy note. If you have a child under 2 ½ years old, you may not want to do this. Younger children may think you are home and will become distressed because they can’t see or be with you.
Prepare a welcome home meal with a theme
If mom is coming home from a business trip, dad can have the kids help shop and prepare a special themed dinner. If you know mom loves bean and cheese burritos, you can have a festive Mexican meal ready. Nothing makes mom as happy as knowing her family is thinking of her and honoring her arrival with yummy foods.
Make Dad’s favorite snacks
Dad probably isn’t getting any of his favorite snacks or food when he travels. Take the kids to to the store to help pick dad’s favorite snacks. You can also bake his favorite cookies. Dad will truly appreciate seeing his delicious turkey jerky and ginger cookies when he goes to grab something to eat. Make sure the kids help out, so they feel they are a part of the loving effort!