How to Help Children When You Travel

When I began blogging I never anticipated the need to travel.  The entire point of working from home was just that – to keep me home.  What I found, however, was that time with blogging colleagues and meeting with clients I normally only connect with via phone and email is not only critical to my success, but also to my happiness.  There is nothing that can compare to spending time with my peers, and it makes the hassles of travel well worth it.

That said, when the time comes for me to be away from my kids as I was last weekend at the BlogHer Conference, it can be very tough on the entire family.  The concept of time is very difficult for children, especially the little ones, so a simple “see you in four days” just does not suffice.  There are, however, ways to help children deal with your time away.

  1. Paper Chains and Calendars – To aid your children in understanding the concept of how long you will be away, create a paper chain with one link for each day you are gone or a calendar with stickers to place on each day as it ends.
  2. Stick to the Routine – If your children normally attend a camp, lesson, or other activity, there’s no need to stray from that routine just because their usual caregiver is away.  Be sure to encourage their babysitter or family member to continue to take them through their normal day.  Maintaining their normal routines will make your time away less jarring.
  3. Use a Webcam to Connect – When my husband travels a long distance for work, he always takes my HP Mini with him because it has a webcam.  We then use Skype, a free video chat program, to connect at a specific time each day.  Not only is it nice for the kids to get to see him once a day while he’s gone, but it’s great for him to see them as well.
  4. Show Your Children Where You are Going – While it was easy for my children to understand the concept of taking a train to NYC last weekend, some trips are much farther and difficult for children to envision.  Find photos of the place you’re going and help them visualize where you are while you’re away.
  5. Send Mail – Remember when you’d get mail from your parents while you were away at summer camp?  You know they wrote and sent the letters before you even left for home.  Do the same…but in reverse!  Kids love mail, so try to have one small piece arrive each day that you’re gone.  It will give them something fun to look forward to while you’re away.
  6. Daily Treat – During my trip to NYC I allowed my kids to eat one chocolate coin each evening after dinner as a special treat.  Not only was this a tasty moment that they don’t normally get to enjoy at dinner, but it was a visual reminder that when that last coin was gone, mom was on her way home.  It might also be fun to wrap a small gift for each day!

Have you needed to spend time away from your kids?  What did you do to make it easier on them while you were away?

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  • Amy,

    I never thought I would travel so much either but I do and your tips are so helpful. A call in the evening is what we usually do along with when I leave (a card with a note, special book, treat, etc.) and a present when I return home. Keeping their life “normal” when I’m away is something we aim to do but I love your idea for the Skype and the paper chain.

  • I don’t travel but hubby does, he’s a trucker. We use Skype and he has his phone set up to send/receive email and twitter messages so we communicate quite a bit through direct message. As for the kids, we keep to our normal routine whether he’s home or gone. Hubby takes my old laptop so we send pictures and post video to feel connected to each other while he’s on the road. We also put the home phone on speaker when he talks to the kids (they all want to talk to him at the same time). It works for us but you have some great tips!

  • cute tips and if I ever find my self leaving my mommy duties behind for a weekend to escape I’ll most definitely keep these in mind

  • I don’t travel often, but these are some good tips. I know military moms who use the paper chain. Routine is so key for my kids!

  • Great Article! I love #1 and will try it with my child on our next trip.

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