Alison Sweeney: I refuse to let my film schedule keep me from connecting with my kids
Like millions of other parents, being away from my kids is the most challenging part of my job. While my schedule has certainly improved from the days of juggling two shows, I'm still leaving my kids, Ben and Megan, while I produce and star in movies shot in Vancouver. With my average movie taking three to four weeks for production, I've really worked to maintain daily contact with my kids, and technology has certainly helped make it possible.
Here are a few things we do to stay connected when I'm gone:
- Every morning I wake up and have breakfast with my kids using FaceTime. We get to start the day together and share our plans for the day. I have to admit, there are nights that we wrap very late, and the last thing I want to do is set my alarm, but it's worth it to see how excited my kids are for our morning time together.
- Text messaging is our friend. I'll regularly send pictures to my kids of what I'm up to during the day, and they'll do the same for me. It's often an ongoing silly conversation that makes us feel like we aren't far apart.
- We share a calendar so I can see what my kids are up to each day and the best times to reach them. It also helps me to ask specific questions about what they did during the day since I know what was planned.
- Each night, I make a point of saying goodnight to my husband, Dave, and the kids via FaceTime. We talk about the day we had and it’s the perfect way to end our days together.
In addition to the daily check-ins, I write a ton of notes that I have Dave leave for my kids each day that I'm gone. I know they love finding something unexpected from me, and it just serves as another reminder of how much I love them.
Beyond the constant touch-points with my kids, Dave and I strive to always be connected with constant texts, phone conversations and finding any time to be in the same city that we can. Given his job as a California highway patrol officer, I often have greater flexibility, so I'll return home even if it's for 24 hours just to spend a night in the same house as him and the kids. We'll have a family dinner and then put the kids to bed, make popcorn and watch a movie or catch up on one of our favorite shows.
Since I've just gotten back to Vancouver to shoot my next project for the Hallmark Channel, I'd love any suggestions that you have of what else we can do to better stay in touch as a family while I'm gone.
Don't miss Alison's beach bag must-read this summer, Opportunity Knocks.