April 30, 2020

Having a parent that travels for work can be hard on the other parent. The parent who stays home is left to handle all of the day-to-day needs of the family. Add to this the fact that many children will miss the traveling parent and things can quickly get overwhelming. So how do you survive and thrive when your partner travels? We have some tips in our parenting survival guide for when one parent travels.

Parenting Survival Guide for When One Parent Travels

Maintain a routine.

When one parent is out of the picture because of traveling it can be easy to forget about the routine your family typically has. This may seem like a great idea at the time but it can actually work against you. Many children thrive with a consistent routine. There is something predictable and reliable in routine for them. This can help them handle the change of having a parent gone. Here are a few tips for maintaining a routine.

5 Tips for maintaining a routine when one parent travels

  1. Prioritize bedtime routines - When a parent travels it can be tempting to be a bit more flexible on bedtime or leave things out of the bedtime routine. However, having a consistent bedtime routine can help parents to get a break at the end of the day. This will look different in every household. Some may do a bath, story, and bedtime. Others may lay with a child until they fall asleep. Whatever your routine was before your partner traveled, try to make that a priority when they are away. Plus, be sure to concentrate on your own sleep cycle to keep it as regular as possible, too.
  2. Stick to mealtime routines - Does your family do Taco Tuesday? Is Friday night always pizza night? If you have a mealtime routine, stick to these routines. Having that consistency can make a world of difference for a child. It could be as simple as the cup of juice your child is used to every morning with breakfast. Keep these mealtime routines and you will find the transition is a bit smoother.
  3. Maintain rules and consequences - When a partner is traveling it can be tempting to be a bit more lax on certain rules and consequences. Being lax on the rules and consequences can actually lead to a frustrating experience for all as kids don’t know what is expected of them. By maintaining the standards, you are communicating that life hasn’t changed as drastically.
  4. Keep school or homework routines - School and homework routines are incredibly important for a child. Keeping them on a consistent routine with school and homework can help to keep the normalcy of the situation. While you may have to adapt the routine some to accommodate only having one parent in the household, it is incredibly important that you don’t completely change the entire routine. Perhaps have a handy ”homework” bag, where you keep extra school supplies like pencils, pens, extra paper, etc., to be able to keep that workspace consistent. Stick with whatever works to keep your sanity as much as possible.
  5. Don’t cancel plans if possible - If there is a birthday party, special event, or family get together planned, try your best not to cancel these. It is so important to maintain a routine when it comes to these things. Going to a family get together or a birthday party can be a much-needed distraction. 

Find ways to connect

Children can have a hard time with the disconnection of having a parent who travels. It is so important during this time to find ways to connect. This could mean taking advantage of video calling, sending special emails, or having cards set aside from the traveling parent. Little forms of connections can matter a great deal to a child who is missing their parent. Here are a few ways to connect with a parent who is traveling.

5 Ways to Connect with a Parent Who is Traveling

  1. Take advantage of video calling - Tools such as Facebook messenger, FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom offer you the ability to get on a video call with someone you care about. Schedule a video call with the parent who is traveling as a special way to connect.
  2. Send messages or emails - Take advantage of messaging platforms or emails to let your children stay connected to a parent who is traveling.
  3. Leave cards for the kids - Before your partner leaves to travel, have them write a story or small card for the children. These can be saved for moments when a child is missing their parent.
  4. Record a video message - Before your partner leaves, have them record a video message that can be shared with the child each day or when they are having a hard time missing their parent.
  5. Send home postcards or pictures - When a parent is traveling it can mean the world to a child to receive a special card or pictures. These can be sent in the mail or emailed to the child. Either way, the idea is to show the child they are being thought of while their parent is away. 

Do Something Special at Home

For some children, knowing that a parent is traveling can leave them feeling like they are missing out. If you have a partner who will be traveling often, it might be fun to set up a special tradition that you do during this time. It could be a movie night, ice cream date, or a special game you play together. Sometimes this special time together can make a world of difference for a child who is missing their parent.

5 Special Things to Do from Home

  1. Family Movie Night - It’s time to pop some popcorn, pull out the blankets, and snuggle up for a family movie night. Pick an old favorite or try a new movie together. It’s a special memory they are sure to treasure.
  2. Bake something together - Whether you pick up pre-made cookie dough, or start a recipe from scratch, the goal is quality time together. Find something you can bake together and enjoy a sweet treat when you’re done.
  3. Take a walk - Pack up snacks in your backpack and head out on a family walk around the neighborhood or on a favorite trail. This can be a fun way to spend some time together and you could end it with a picnic or just enjoy a nice walk together.
  4. Have a game night - Pull out that favorite board game and play a few rounds together. It doesn’t have to be an all-night game play, but it could be fun to play a few games together.
  5. Have fun with arts and crafts - This could be as simple as crayons and a coloring book. However, if you are more crafty, don’t be afraid to have fun with an art project together. The goal is to spend time together.

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