“My travel schedule kicks back into high gear this week.”
“Dad needs to leave this Saturday, without me. To work. To do good. I understand – though.”
As an involved parent, when business trips take you away from home – sometimes it is hard to respond to the sad emotions of your child, lest making them go away.
We may not understand the intensity of a child’s feelings, but can do plenty of things to support our children while being absent. With a little more thought and planning, here are few ideas you can adapt to suit your child’s age and family situation.
Give in to Special Moments. Try to accommodate as many special events that are important to you and your family. That means scheduling your business trips so that they do not coincide with your child’s special moments such as birthdays, school plays, and annual tournaments or shows. As a parent, remember you have only as many memories to cherish and enjoy with your kids.
But still, if you must need to be away for that business trip, keep the kids in loop and move on to Plan ‘B’ which might include:
- Having a grand-parent or another family member be present at the event.
- Keeping the teacher, or instructor informed about your situation, so that they can support the child
- Using technology. On one occasion, while my husband was away in Canada and we had to celebrate our son’s 7th birthday, we took advantage of Skype. We had it connected for the entire event. Not only did my husband enjoy being a witness to all the buzzing games and umpteen activities, my son was also thrilled to have his dad watching him over and be part of his special day.
- Ask your spouse or another adult to capture the event with digital photos and send it over almost immediately (with smartphones anything is possible eh!:)
- And Oh! Do not forget to call your child before the event to offer a healthy dose of encouragement, and call again after to hear on all the exciting lil’ details that happened.
No matter how connected you are, your child will still miss your physical presence. For the same reason it is wise not to seek permission from them or to ask if it is all right to miss a special event – because it is not.
Give them a Gift of you. Leaving with them a personal item for keepsake gives children a fond remembrance to hold on. A photo, or a favorite book that you read together, a recorded song, poem or a bedtime story – complete with sound effects and the ‘high-five’ in the closing stages.
Mark your Dates on the Map or Calendar. Younger kids, do not fully understand the concept of time and date, and marking your departure and travel dates on the calendar helps them learn important concepts of time.
Another good way is to give them a visual representation of the places you’re going to travel – “from Delhi to Heathrow, to New York” and this is where Dad and the Statue of Liberty are going to be. For older kids, let them rack their brains to find out the longitudes and latitudes to see where you are now and where you’re going.
Maintain Contact while you’re Travelling. Call a few times per week if you’re in different time zones, Skype, email, send pretty postcards from airports/places that you visit.
Always Say Goodbye. It’s never easy for young children to say ‘goodbye’ and a lot of parents get this part wrong. Children especially under the age of three can’t bear to see any of their parents leave. But because the parent doesn’t want to upset their kids or want to face them teary eyed - they often leave without saying good bye or else simply sneak out. Or otherwise they talk themselves into believing that the child is too young to notice his/her absence.
Young children do like to know what to expect. Whether old or young, when you say goodbye, keep it short and sweet (KISS). Explain them ahead of time when you plan to leave, assure them that you will return soon, and give quick hug or pat before having another adult whisk them away off to another activity.For many parents business travel is just a matter-of-fact part of life, and preparing children for separations makes it easier for the parent and the child.
Continue Good Parenting when you return Home. Spend a little time with your spouse or with the person who cared for your child when you were gone to ask how things have been while you were away. A tight hug and a BIG ‘Thank You’ does wonders for the family. Also even if you’re tired it is wise to take over with child care responsibilities immediately, and let the other parent have some time to themselves.
Bring Back Small Tokens of Love. While we don’t want to spoil our children, we love to see the sparkle in their eyes, and joy in their faces when we bring back small gifts. This makes a lot of difference. Gifts do not have to be really expensive, just something that your children may like or have been wanting for sometime, or few surprise ones too
This list is not complete………..
We would love to hear on how you remain in touch with your children while travelling….