Usually, I work locally, but every other month or so, I spend a couple of nights in another city.
As my travel date draws closer, I tend to keep my son up a tiny bit later for an extra story and to hug him a bit tighter when we cuddle. Work travel has its advantages (like a full night of uninterrupted sleep) and its disadvantages (they’re only young once). But at the end of the day, it’s simply a part of my job and a part of my life.
One thing that I’ve learned since beginning my life as a working parent is that time away from my son doesn’t have to be lost time. While I’m not there to kiss the boo-boos or chit-chat about the highs and lows of preschool life, I have found ways to connect with my son from afar that eases separation and keeps our bond strong.
Here are five ways to connect with your child when you find yourself on the road for work:
1 | Play FaceTime Hide-and-Seek
I don’t know how people parented before FaceTime. My little guy’s life is screen free except for when he wants to chat with his cousin or his grandparents on my iPhone.
FaceTime hide-and-seek is simple: Your partner hides their phone somewhere easy (in a drawer, behind a curtain, in the laundry basket) and sets your little one to find you. The sight of your child’s face towering over you and split with a grin feels wonderful. Exaggerated sneezing on your part is optional, but highly recommended if your child is having difficulty finding you.
2 | Read a favorite bedtime story
While hearing your little one’s voice over the phone feels wonderful, nothing quite beats hearing their quiet, tired little sighs as you read the stories they’re used to hearing your voice read.
Before you hit the road, pull up the text of little one’s favorite books on your iPad or Kindle and let them keep the physical copy so they can flip through the pages as you read.
3 | Leave a favorite snack or treat
Before I leave town, I like to bake (or buy) something special for my little boy. When he’s telling me that first evening that he misses me, I direct him to the microwave or the oven or the cabinet where I’ve stored his something special.
As he races back to the phone, treat in hand, I know he feels loved. And I, from afar, feel like I’ve sent my love through space.
4 | Be a part of their routine
While you want to connect with your little one, you don’t want to throw their routine for the parent at home. FaceTime during bath time, or have your partner prop you up at the dinner table or next your kid while they play so you can connect during the times you normally would.
Sometimes my husband props the iPhone on the shelf of my son’s play kitchen. As he cooks and cleans, I’m right at face level so he can pretend to feed me or chit-chat as he goes.
5 | Create a special coming home routine
The day after I get home from a business trip, I take my son out for a mommy-and-me breakfast. Because I work full-time, we rarely eat a morning sit-down meal together, so this outing feels particularly special.
If my son starts to feel sad in my absence, my husband reminds him he’s got a great breakfast coming up. That cheers him right up.