It is a dilemma most working parents face: How do you fulfill your job commitments without cheating your children?
According to the US Department of Labor, 79 percent of mothers with school-age children work; and of these mothers, more than 65 percent have children age six or younger. A study by the National Sleep Foundation reports that the average American works a 46-hour week; more surprisingly, 38 percent of these respondents worked more than 50 hours per week. Spending so much time at work can make you feel out of touch with your children. The feeling is compounded if you travel for business as well.
Instead of worrying, use the time you have to reconnect in these simple, yet meaningful ways. Strong connections can be made when you are at the office, out of town, or simply crunched for time at home. I discovered in the years of research for my book, Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day, that small gestures, rituals or spur-of-the-moment adventures bring parents and children closer in hectic and pressured times.
When you travel
It seems like an unrealistic challenge -- making your child feel your presence when you are away from home, but little things like hearing your voice or being allowed to use your belongings serve as reminders that you are not too far. Your child will miss you less or have less negative feelings about your traveling if you put some of these connecting gestures to work:
When you work long hours
You may not be states or countries away, but an extended workday also requires thoughtfulness. Use available time to the fullest. A meal, a game or one-on-one conversation can help your child deal with your absences. To compensate for your long day, try:
Some of these ideas may seem obvious -- others will be new to your family. Select the ones that work best for you. Although you are trying to please your children who see less of you than you would like, these suggestions will make your life less stressful and reduce some of the guilt you may have. For the long haul, it is the little things that get etched into children's minds and are long remembered.
More tips for working moms
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