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Business Travel: Leaving the Little Ones Behind
Committed to Communication
Before the Trip
Mapping the route
Discuss the upcoming trip with your child several days before your departure. You may even want to plot out your trip using a wall map in your child's room. Also, if you have mixed feelings about leaving, do not share those feelings with your child. It may cause them to worry. Instead, explain the details of the trip itself so they understand what is happening.
Learning about the destination
With enough time, parents and children can research facts about the destination through convention and visitor bureau websites, visiting the library to look at picture books, or stopping by the airport to show a youngster an airplane.
Counting the days
Children want to know how long a parent will be away. Mark the days on a calendar. For younger children, you can place one block for each day on the road in a special container. The child can remove a block each morning. An empty box means that the traveling parent is almost home. Make older children a copy of your travel plans.
Planning for your return
Give your child something to look forward to, such as a game or project that will begin when you return home.
During the Journey
Timing it right
Keep your child's schedule as normal as possible, even if the parent is traveling in another time zone. It will help the parent who is traveling to know when to time phone calls to avoid disruptions to the child's schedule. For example, it may not be ideal for the parent to call when the child is getting ready for bed.
Talking and writing
Listen to what the child wants to talk about. Be creative. You may want to read your child a book by phone. On more unpredictable trips, you can text or communicate by email. Encouraging older children to write can help literacy skills.
Missing big events
Road warriors often miss the joys of a toddler's first steps or a Little Leaguer's game-winning hit. For those events, consider invoking the "Milestone Rule," which means that it doesn't count until you see it. This gives the child an opportunity to celebrate twice. You can also consider creating a keepsake box, where a child can stash artwork or other treasures to show the returning parent.
Bringing back souvenirs
If you're traveling a lot, bring back something consistent they can collect. Try to find something associated with the destination, such as a miniature Statue of Liberty from New York City or a little trolley car from San Francisco.
Nemours' KidsHealth http://kidshealth.org
US Travel Association http://www.ustravel.org
Transport Canada http://www.tc.gc.ca
4 tips for long distance parenting. Distance Parent website. Available at: http://distanceparent.org/how-to/4-tips-for-long-distance-parenting/. Published June 6, 2013. Accessed October 22, 2013.
Long distance parenting. Bannock County website. Available at: http://www.co.bannock.id.us/dmoretip.htm. Accessed October 22, 2013.
Long distance parenting. Father and Child website. Available at: http://fatherandchild.org.nz/magazine/issue-6/long-distance-parenting/. Accessed October 22, 2013.
Traveling without your child. Nemours' KidsHealth website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/travel%5Fwithout%5Fkids.html. Updated July 2011. Accessed October 22, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2013
- Update Date: 10/22/2013