Keeping the connection: Travel tips for parents
I love those "mother-daughter" moments, especially when I feel as though I'm teaching my small girl a bit about the world, a bit about growing up and living out your dreams. Except when I'm not, and instead she is teaching me.
It was nearly four years ago and somehow, I can remember it as though it was 15 minutes ago. Delaney snuggled in next to me, aimed those sweet brown eyes at me and asked, 'Mommy, did you get to choose your job?'.
Keep in mind that I smiled and prepared for a conversation that centered on how beautiful it is to be the master of my world, to choose my hours, to make my own decisions, to love my job. I looked right in to that sweet face and said, "Why, yes baby... I did."
However, I wasn't prepared for her response: "Mommy... then why would you ever choose a job that takes you away from me so much?"
Excuse me a second baby girl... I'll be back in just a moment after I remove that knife from my heart.
The truth is, I was traveling quite a bit then and I still do a fair amount now. And that isn't always easy on small people. But I do love my work and I do believe that I am showing my kids, by example, what it means to be both a present, involved mother and one who lives her dreams and goals. So, that means finding a way to make travel as tolerable for possible for all of us.
How to keep the connection strong
Prepare in advance: I found "sneaking out the door" early in the morning without saying goodbye was a bad idea. My small people detested the idea of waking to the surprise of finding me gone. The sad face when I told them I was heading out wasn't always easiest on my heart, but telling them where I was going and how long I was going to be gone helped them to have expectations and understand that I was coming back and would miss them terribly.
Stay connected with Skype:As much fun as it is to hear my voice while I'm gone, it is that much more amazing to see my face, to make faces at me, to get a tour of my hotel room, to see the monkeys hanging outside my room (thank you, Costa Rica!) and to have that reassurance that I'm Just. Right. There.
Anyone who knows us, knows that my small people are heavy into sports, so it might not surprise you to know that I have even used Skype to allow my husband to watch my kids play while he has been out of town... in fact... the last time we did it, he was watching live from an airplane as my daughter played softball and even saw as she was hit by a pitch. Tough moment for a dad, but he was able to talk to her as she came off the field.
Take a little something with you
Carry something with you that represents your kids as you travel. For me, it is this purple hippo pillow pet named Lavender. My small girl gave him to me specifically to keep me company while I'm gone. I tuck him into my suitcase and take pictures to show that her love keeps me from being lonely while I'm away. I will be honest, it is comforting to both of us.
Leave a little something behind
Admittedly, it isn't possible to do this every time you are heading out the door, but consider writing your kids a note. Wish them luck in school. Tell them you miss them. Share where you are visiting or give them something to look forward to by counting down the number of days it will be until you are home. I have done this for trips that I knew would feel "long" for my kids and love that they have, over the years, hung on to these notes and re-read them.
The good news in our house is that I have found traveling has been easier as my small people get older; at least it is on them. I think it might be getting a touch harder on me. I do so miss those little faces and each moment away. What are your tips for staying connected while you are gone?
Disclosure: This post is part of a collaboration between Skype and SheKnows.