5 Tips to Deal with Separation from Your Child
Do you travel a lot for work? Are you in the military or facing possible deployment? Prolonged separation from your child is stressful and painful. How do you cope, and how do you ease the separation for your child?
Here are five ideas to help both you and your child with the separation …
Before you leave, establish ways to stay in touch. With Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube, family websites, and more, it is relatively easy to feel in touch, even when you’re far away. Decide as a family which method of communication you’ll use the most, and discuss when. If possible, pick a method that allows pictures or videos. If you can actually see each other, you won’t feel as distant. This is especially important for the deployed soldiers that have to leave very young babies behind. You want your baby to see your face and hear your voice as much as possible, so you can maintain that precious connection.
As a family, plan creative ways to mark the passage of time. For children under the age of five, time is still a fuzzy concept. Rather than giving a specific date, it may help if they have something physical to help countdown to your reunion. You could create a paper chain, where each link represents a day. Your spouse or partner can help your child add or remove links in a countdown to your reunion. You can create or purchase a fun calendar and have your child cross out each day as it passes. As long as it is something your child can understand, and it helps pass the time, it really doesn’t matter what you choose.
Teach your child about where you will be going and what you will be doing. If you are traveling for work, leave a copy of your schedule for your child so that he or she knows what you are doing and when you are doing it. Your child may feel more connected to you if he or she knows what you are doing. Show your child, on a map or globe, where you will be going. Educate your child about the area, so that some of the mystery is taken away, and the idea is no longer so abstract.
Plan special activities to help you feel connected. For example, you could agree on a certain time of day to think of each other. You can say that no matter what else is going on, at this time, we will stop and think of each other. You can write each other letters before you leave, seal them in envelopes, and promise to open one each day or each week. Or you can write letters and hide them in special places where your child is sure to find them.
Before you leave, spend as much time together as a family as possible. Create memories, strengthen relationships, and establish routines that can be carried on while you’re apart. Most importantly, say, “I love you” as often as you can.