Recently, while at professional training out of town, one of the instructor’s was missing her daughter’s birthday. Sandi invited the class of 35 to sing to her daughter by phone. It was an amazing experience. Sandi teared up out of happiness. She reported her daughter overflowed with joy from hearing that special song from her far away mom and students. This moving experience got me to think, how I can keep even better connected with my son when traveling next month? While not rocket science, it does take deliberate, conscious action to stay connected and send the message that my son has a special place in my life. After reflecting and scanning the internet, here are 10 ideas to help you stay connected.
- Announce the trip well in advance so the child can process it and get use to the idea. For me, letting my son know that he’d be staying with his grandparents was helpful.
- Send email with pictures. During my last trip I sent selfie pictures from the airport, plane, and hotel. My son, in his goofiness, asked for picture from a bathroom. With careful consideration and an empty bathroom I was able to respond to his request in a tasteful manner. I wanted to make sure he knew I heard his voice and request.
- Postal mail. On longer trips I can send snail mail that will arrive before I return. As my son is getting older and can read. I can now send postal mail such as post card show him a picture of my local.
- Do a video call with Facetime or Skype. When I was in the Army, a studio based video teleconference was the only way to see our loved ones. Today, anyone with smartphone can make a video call to see each other’s face. I might use this technique in the future to read a nighttime story or just talk about the day.
- Sometimes it helps kids to have a special occasion or meal to look forward to during a parent’s absence. My son is fond of the lunches served as his school. I made arrangements with his grandparents to have the school lunch as treat while gone. As bonus the grandparents did not need to make or pack lunches for him. Like my recent instructor demonstrated, I need to consider if there are special events occurring in my absent such as a birthday and how I can participate from a far.
- Security blanket. Some children, including mine, have special items that provide them security in times of the unknown to help deal with fear or other feelings. My son has some stuff “friends” such as Buzz Lightyear and others that provide him comfort. He took these to his grandparents’ house.
- Schedule regular times to check in by phone. It was fortunate that my scheduled during my recent trip allowed me to check in with him while in the car on the way to school and just before bedtime each day. Some days he was more talkative that others, regardless I was able to make sure he knew I cared.
- Make each connection an opportunity a chance to say I miss you and I love you. Even on days that might son was not very communicative, I could tell him that I loved him and missed him. Usually this would get him to respond in a similar manner and sometimes he would continue the conversation and connection telling me more about his day.
- Bring back something for you kid. This doesn’t have to be anything of cost—maybe just a pen picked up at conference. It is truly the thought that matters and the deliberate action to have the thought for the child. The item will be special. I have had thought as well that depending upon the frequency of trips should I bring back something every time? Do I want an air of expectation and entitlement to develop? We each have to decide for ourselves and our kids.
- Give a great big hug and spend some time together upon return. I take out time to tell my son about the trip and spend some time to reconnect with him whether building with Lego bricks or having a tickle “fight.” My message to him—I am back, missed you, and want to spend time with you.
Do you have other ideas? I’d love to hear them. Please post in the comments section.
Here is another article with links to several more articles that I found helpful in my research.