Hello Rock Stars! Happy Wednesday! This week’s question comes from a subscriber who asks: “I often have to travel for work, and every time I leave, my son gets extremely upset. How should I handle this?” I love this question. How often are we all derailed by the oozing of the pure, innocent, honest emotions of our children. I have found that this is a reality for parents of kids of all ages – it just usually shows up differently. The reality is that we all have obligations, dreams, and desires. Many end up taking us away from our family for a time. That is perfectly okay, normal and healthy. For example, as I write this, my son is begging for me to watch his endless(yet pretty awesome) yo-yo tricks. I’m doing my best, but I have to get this out to my Rock Stars! The point is that we cannot feel guilty for having a life. In fact, when you travel, or do other things for either work or enjoyment, you are giving your child a precious gift – a vision of a healthy functioning parent. When you do travel, or have to be away even for a night, here are a few ideas to help ease the pain:
- Plan some special time you and your child will spend together when you return. It does not have to be anything super time consuming or expensive – even scheduling 15-30 minutes to read a book, work on a puzzle, or have a catch in the yard makes an impact and gives you each something to look forward to. It also communicates to your child that you value time with him.
- Find a way to keep communication going with your child while you are away. Face Time, texting, and phone calls are great. Other simple ideas include leaving letters or notes for your child to open each day while you are away. You could also start a journal or letter notebook together, where one of you writes a message or note to the other, and then leaves it for the other person to respond back.
- Try to create some small traditions or rituals around your trips. For example, try to have dinner together the night you get back to catch up, or maybe share a special book or board game together before you go. Again, the key is it doesn’t have to cost anything or be extravagant, the point is to make regular and familiar connections with your child – that is what he will remember, not the fact that you were away.
- Finally, if your child gets upset, definitely validate his feelings, but don’t get sucked into the drama that can often ensue. Kids have a way of carrying on that tugs at our heart in the most desperate of ways. It’s okay to let them feel sad and experience the pain of you going away. That too, is healthy and normal.