- 3 mins
Preparing to Travel when You have to Leave Your Kids at Home
A parent is, without a doubt, a fundamental pillar in a child’s life. Parents provide safety, familiarity, and boundaries to their children, things that children would struggle to live without. Perhaps in our day, more than ever, various commitments may require a parent to travel while having to leave their children at home. This can cause us to worry about different things – will our children manage without us for a few days, would they feel sad, would they be able to fall asleep at night. And what about us? Would we manage the worries of traveling as a parent away from our kids?
Zvonkovic, et al. (2017) note that children value family time and would often want more time with their parents while others wish for their parents to be less stressed. Taking these aspects into consideration, how can we prepare ourselves and our children for when we need to travel away from home?
Traveling as a parent away from the kids:
Consider who the children will stay with
It is essential that children are left in the care of someone they are familiar with and someone that they feel safe with. Do not assume that you know for certain who would be a good option. Ask your children too (and listen to their opinions) so that you know they will feel safe in the company of the person who will take care of them.
Try to keep your children’s routine as consistent as possible. Children feel safer when routines are consistent and this familiarity may help them to cope better while you are away from home. Ensure that their routine is clearly communicated to the person who will stay with them. It may even be a good idea to display it on a visual schedule. Remember to add their favorite Moshi tracks to their daily routine, too. Considering the situation, you might want to look at a story to ease anxiety or some breathing exercises to do.
Let them know when you will be back
While this may seem obvious, we need to make sure that our children know when they can expect us to be back home. Show them on a calendar or leave a little bag with surprises where they can open one surprise every day. This will provide them with a countdown for when they will see you again. It also adds some excitement to their day if there is something they can look forward to every day. The surprises do not have to be elaborate, either. A handwritten note or a treat to go in their lunchbox is ideal!
Spend quality time together
Before you leave, spend quality time together to prove to the kids that you value your time with them. Try to keep things light-hearted and positive, though, especially if your children are feeling anxious about you traveling. Regardless of how tired you may be when you get home, ensure that your children know how happy you are to be back with them.
What about yourself?
Let’s be honest. If we know that our children are settled and happy, that will take a heavy burden off our shoulders. If we follow the tips mentioned above, it will not only help our children cope, but it will also make us feel more at ease. And before we know it, we will be back together as a family.
Zvonkovic, A., Swenson, A., & Cornwell, Z. (2017). Children’s Experiences of Time when a Parent Travels for Work. Journal of marriage and the family, 79(4), 983–1000.