My job requires some travel, overall not an excessive amount, only about 4 nights per month on average. However, occasionally a trip will send me far from home for an extended period of time (the longest I've been gone is 2 weeks!) Additionally, I feel very strongly about having a couple trip with my hubby each year as well as my mother-daughter trip. As my kids have gotten older these trips and separations have gotten easier on them but I still have some tips for making it easier at any age.
1. SKYPE! If you are not familiar with Skype it is a free application that you can download to your computer (www.skype.com) which allows for free video calls. We have 4 Skype accounts in our house. Each of my girls have one, I have one and we have one for the family. The beauty of this is when I'm away on my work computer I can video chat with any of the family members back home for free. We can even video conference! It is awesome. Jeff and I have used it with the girls when we were in Mexico too.
2. COUNT DOWN! When I had to be away in China for 2 weeks I made each of my girls a count down box. I took a shoe box and filled it with 14 individually wrapped gifts. Not big items, a pack of gum, a cute pair of earrings, a box of tic tacs, some stickers. Each day they unwrapped one item and when the box was empty I would be home. They both loved it and for Olivia who was only 7 at the time it really helped define the time in a visual way she could understand.
3. EMAIL! Now that my kids are older I like to e-mail them each individually. Most recently I was in Germany so the 7 hour time difference meant that each morning I could send them an e-mail that they would get in their morning. I included a few pictures each day just to show them what I was seeing. I kept every e-mail they sent back to me too.
4. MAKE THEM IN CHARGE! Give them some responsibility while you are gone. Have them help with cooking dinners or give them a project that will take a little time each day. Especially in the summer this helps make the time pass faster while you are away.
5. SHOW THEM YOU CARE! I know that with two girls who are 10 and 14 who are very independent and with a husband at home they are perfectly capable of cooking for themselves but it is still nice to leave something behind that shows you were thinking of them. Sometimes I'll throw together a lasagna or casserole before I leave that they can cook one night. When school is in session, I'll throw something in the crock pot the morning I leave so they come home to a dinner home cooked by me. This time I just prepped some veggies that they can use for salads and sandwiches while I'm away. They are little things but show I'm thinking of them.
6. SCOUT VACATION SPOTS! I am always on the look out for new vacation spots so whenever I am out of town without my family I look for things to do there should I decide to go back. Last year Jeff and I spent a week at an all inclusive in Cancun. We loved it so much and thought the girls would too so this year we are going back with them.
7. GIFTS ARE ALWAYS GOOD! Since I travel so frequently I don't always bring them something home but if I go somewhere really cool or new or particularly exotic I like to pick something up that is specific to that area.
8. CONSIDER BLOGGING! When I went to China for 2 weeks I created a blog. Because of the 12 hour time difference, as my day was ending each night the girls were in school so I could update my blog and when they got home from school they could check it out. They could also share it with other friends and family members.
Its tough being away sometimes but I know that being a working mom makes me a better mom and I know that I need my marriage to be strong and that I need to nurture my mother-sister-daughter bonds as well. For these reasons this trips are important to me. These tips help make them a little easier on the kiddos.