I was going to name this post something a bit lighter, but traveling parents know exactly what I am taking about. It isn’t easy on the kids. The fact that we are away so often really puts a toll on the rest of the family. I mean, something has to give. I’ve been seeing it with my clan the last few months, but there’s nothing I can do about it. 75% of my travel this year have been paid opportunities and since I am the one who keeps the lights on in the house, I have to follow the money. The other 25% provided other value – whether it be great content for the blog, or whether it helped maintain positive relationships with brands that I know and love. Everything I do is for my family. But sometimes those things have to take me away from them.
So, lately I’ve been thinking about ways to ease their pain. How can I make them feel better while I am away. I was talking it through with another friend of mine who travels often – Danielle from Extraordinary Mommy – and she really got me started on this notion. She told me what her family does and I took her idea and put my own spin on it.
I LOVE THIS IDEA! Danielle told me that her children bought her a stuffed animal to carry as she sets off on her journeys. She then takes pictures of the doll wherever she is and sends it back to the kids. It makes them feel like they are with her while she is away. Genius!
I changed it a bit for my family. I took my daughter to the local “5 and Under” store and had her pick out two dolls. One for her and one for me. I told her that I would take one with me and she would keep one with her while I was gone. I told her, the family should send me pictures of what they were doing all day long with the doll. Almost like a job!! That way I could stay on top of their adventures while I was away. It gave her something to do and it also connects us virtually in a way throughout the entire time we are apart.
What will I be doing? Well, I started an Instagram account that is JUST for my kids. I am going to post every single thing I do with this stuffed animal as he travels around the world with me (literally). Our first stop is CHINA. So, whether we are waiting as we taxi on the plane or if we are bored looking out the window, I am going to post a million pictures just for their eyes. It’s not for anyone else. So, I’m not concerned with tagging or lighting or sharing or numbers. I am going to FLOOD that stream with DOZENS of photos a day so they REALLY feel like they are with me on my adventures. I CANNOT WAIT TO DO THIS. And I have my friend Danielle to thank for giving me the inspiration!
5 Ways Working Parents Who Travel Can Ease The Pain At Home: #2 Facetime
Phone calls are great… but talking face to face is so much better. Thank goodness for technology. Instead of calling home – which is our natural instinct – use Facetime (or a program like it) instead. The kids want to see you. They miss you. And even though you are in a cab or in the airport or in bed at the hotel, just do it. It’s so important. I actually force myself to do this because it’s very unnatural to me. I don’t even really like using the phone if I’m being honest with you. I’m a texter. Speaking of which…
5 Ways Working Parents Who Travel Can Ease The Pain At Home: #3 If they are old enough, let your kids text you all the time
This might be dangerous because when I let my daughter text me, I end up with every emoticon image known to man popping up on my screen. However, I understand that they need to feel like they have access to me at all times. Give them a way to text you. I believe you can do this through email if they don’t have their own devices. You just have to set it up in their profile.
5 Ways Working Parents Who Travel Can Ease The Pain At Home: #4 Bring home a little trinket from every place you visit
I don’t care if you went to a convention in the middle of nowhere USA and was only at that location for 6 hours. Grab something from the airport and bring it home. Even if it’s a shot glass! Ok, I’m joking about the shot glass, but you get my point. Bring them a little something!! You don’t even have to spend a lot of money. It could be a bag of jelly beans. Who cares! The point is, you thought of them while you were away. It matters.
5 Ways Working Parents Who Travel Can Ease The Pain At Home: #5 When you finally get home, stay present
When you walk through the door for the first time after being away, drop everything, (wash your hands and change your clothes — sorry I’m a germaphobe with travel) and be with your children. Do not check your email, pull out your computer, start unpacking, or tidying up the house. Nothing matters for those first few hours except for those kids. Just exist in the moment. They have been DYING to see you – so let them. This was something I had to learn to do. I used to get home and start cleaning the MESS that was in every room …but no more. Now, I just ignore it and deal with it in the morning. It’s all about kissing those babies!!
From one traveling parent to another, I understand this. I REALLY DO. If you have any tips, please share them with me – because I am always open to learning. Thanks for reading and… safe travels!