Separation is hard, and when you don’t understand time it’s also frustrating and confusing. This summer my boys and I spent two weeks apart from my husband. Thankfully we were at my mom’s house on vacation, so they were so busy they didn’t talk about missing him, but they sure did show how much they missed him when we were all together again.
Thankfully my husband does not travel much, but when he is gone
- Sushi. My husband doesn’t like sushi. I do. And it’s the perfect dinner since you can buy it ahead of time, throw it in the refrigerator and there is zero prep time when it’s time to eat. Yum. Eat something easy that you love and maybe your husband doesn’t care for – then it’s special!
- Chick Flicks. My husband could care less. I like a good laugh and cry now and then. Last time he was away I watched so many I was ready for a good action flick that involved death and destruction by the time he got home. But what a treat! I get to pick and no one complains!
- Special Outings. Ice cream, CMOM, the zoo, a movie, whatever. Get out and do something special with your kids. You will all appreciate the break.
- Big Homecoming. Arts & crafts are great for kids. Make a big deal out of daddy coming home with a “Welcome Home” sign. Or bake and decorate cupcakes. It’s a celebration!
- Cross Off the Days. My 8 year old understands time and sleeps with his watch on. My 4 year old thinks everything happened “yesterday.” When something important is coming I make him a calendar and we cross off the days together. Then he can see for himself how long until Daddy returns or Grammy visits.
Here are some other tips from the moms:
Call him on the phone – do a Skype or other video chat if you can.
We use technology to our advantage and video Skype or FaceTime with the parent who’s gone. Even just a phone call helps. I’ll also distract him with some special events, like going out for pizza or evening play dates or a movie, or a sleepover in mommy and daddy’s room.
I got a “build a bear” with my voice when I had to go out of town a lot on business. Also, Hallmark has books where you can record a voice, maybe daddy reading him “Goodnight Moon” recorded in his voice?….it is tough, hope that helps.
I buy special craft type stuff when it’s on clearance. We stay busy during the day, do craft at night and special dinner consisting of junk food (like a hotdog) but we call it junk food to make it sound more fun.
My daughter used to bring all of her stuffed animals in my room and sleep in the big bed with me to “keep me company”. We planned picnics in the family room and watched movies, her choice. Made a ritual of things we only did when daddy was gone. We didn’t have Skype then, but that sounds like a great idea.
My husband gives the kids a present as they say goodbye. We don’t Skype if it’s a short trip because it seems to make them more sad. I invite a friend over for dinner because night is the hardest.
My spouse was gone for a month to 6 weeks at a time when my daughter was that age. Explain it to them in terms of “sleeps”, i.e., 3 sleeps till daddy returns. For some reason kids get this better than days. Also, try not to make a super big deal out of it & stick to routine with some special things mixed in. They will feed off of your anxiety.
My husband is deployed overseas and we had daddy dolls made before he left. Go to daddydolls.com You can upload a picture (doesn’t have to be military) and even get a voice recorder for it. We also videoed him reading books before he left so that we could watch them.