Few more tips for travelling mothers
In continuation to the previous article, here are few suggestions based on my personal experience on how to prepare your child before you head out for a travel:
Know when to tell
The time to share the news of your upcoming trip depends on your child's age and temperament. Toddlers and preschoolers don't understand the concept of time, and some elementary-age kids may still have trouble differentiating five days from one week, so it's best to give them only a couple of days' notice. Young children tend to get overly anxious about parents leaving, so shorter time frames reduce the length of time they worry. Older kids and teens are more independent, so you can let them know at least three to four days ahead of time. If you have to leave urgently and can't give much notice, tell your child as soon as possible to make sure you stay calm. Also, have a plan in place so they won't feel that they are a last-minute thought.
Give the details
Tell your children when you're leaving, where you're going, what you'll be doing, how they can contact you, and when you'll return. Young kids may not understand what Monday or August 20th means, so mark your departure and return dates on a colorful calendar. Tell them to cross out one day each morning when they wake up, and you'll be home on the day with the star (or whatever you choose). Help them understand where you'll be by showing photos, pointing out the location on a map, or, for older kids, researching it on the Internet or in a book. Let them know who will be taking care of them while you're away.
Stick to Routines
Keep things on the home front as close to normal as possible. Having a parent away on business is already difficult, so it's best not to make any additional changes that will disrupt kids' lives.If your child is staying with a babysitter or family member, leave detailed instructions on bedtimes, feeding schedules, who needs to be where when, and any other necessary information to keep things consistent.
Giving a child something that belongs to the absent person, such as a T-shirt or a photo, will keep his or her presence in the home and can reduce separation anxiety. Leaving surprise notes will also help: Put them in easy-to-find places, like a toy chest, lunch bag, backpack, or a favorite shoe.
Prevent Tough Goodbyes
Sneaking away, prolonging the departure, acting anxious, or displaying guilt can make "goodbye" even more challenging. To make parting easier, she recommends giving your child a hug and kiss and saying, "I love you. I can't wait to see you when I come back, but I know you're going to have a good time." Then leave.
Once you're away, touch base with your child (and caretaker) every day. Daily chats allow kids to hear your voice and gives everyone time to share his or her day and discuss any concerns. Don't limit communication to your cell phone. Skype, FaceTime, or other video chat apps are fun and easy ways to keep in touch.
Connect, but not too often. Incessant calling or nagging could make the separation harder for kids and frustrate your spouse. Too much access to or from home can also make it difficult to tend to your work duties because you won't be as focused, and if your kids can contact you anytime, you'll likely receive calls for every little thing. Stay in touch but limit access and trust your significant other to handle situations at home.
Return with Love
After a long week of meetings, you probably can't wait to get home to relax. But "when kids haven't seen you for a while, they want to share everything that's happened, see what souvenirs you bought, and hear about your trip. Being abrupt or saying you need alone time will make your child think he isn't important (after all, he feels you already had time away). By spending time with your child first and making the transition a natural one, your kid won't take your desire for space personally. Moreover, making your return as positive as your departure means he will be less anxious next time you travel.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)