Magazine article Work & Family Life

Staying in Touch When Parents Travel

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Staying in Touch When Parents Travel

Article excerpt

Does your job or your spouse's involve outof-town travel? How do family patterns change when Mom or Dad is away? Does your spouse feel OK about assuming extra responsibilities?

It comes with the territory

Making sure all the pieces fit while you're traveling on business takes some planning before you leave and a lot of checking while you're away. But even the most organized parents experience guilt when they travel-over missing a birthday or a soccer game or leaving kids in the care of someone new.

If the trip is part of your job, giving in to guilty feelings is not productive. Make the distinction between feeling "bad" or "sad" and feeling guilty. Look at the situation as a problem to be solved: Who else might go to your 8-year-old's soccer game and take pictures?

Age makes a big difference in how kids respond when parents travel. A 5-year-old might give you a hard time while a 14-year-old may be thrilled to have you away for a few days. Try not to communicate ambivalence about going away. This makes it harder for kids to separate from you and gives them a signal to push your "guilty button."

Before you leave

TODDLERS. Since toddlers don't understand "yesterday," "today" or "next week," it's best to wait till the night before to say you're going. Do it with a minimum of fuss. Say "When I'm away I'll talk to you every day, just before your bath."

PRESCHOOLERS. Tell your child about your trip a week or so before you go so he or she can digest the idea and ask questions. Talk about leaving and returning in terms of your child's schedule, "While Daddy gives you breakfast, I'll catch the plane."

SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN. Tell them where you're going and how long you'll be away. Look up your destination on a map together and leave time to plan for homework assignments or activities that will take place while you're away. …

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