Tips to Prepare Your Kids for When You’re Traveling Without Them
No matter their ages, it can be unsettling for your kids when you travel without them. They may have concerns about everything from your safety and when you will return, to how well things will be managed and ways of coping with missing you while you are away. That’s why it’s important to prepare your child as much as possible before you leave home. This will reassure them in your absence and encourage them to successfully handle such changes in the future.
Here are some tips to prepare your kids for when you’re traveling without them:
1. Be as Clear and Honest as Possible (and Say Goodbye)
As soon as you know that you will be traveling without your child, be clear and honest with them. Even if they get upset at hearing the news, having time to process and understand the situation will benefit them in the long run.
Of course, you don’t have to provide all the details or reasons for your travel, especially if the circumstances are difficult. However, here are some basic ideas for information to give your kids before you leave:
- When you will be going (day and time)
- How long you will be gone (approximately, if unknown)
- Who will be taking care of them in your absence
- What else they can expect while you are away
It’s never advisable to leave your child without saying goodbye, whether it’s for a brief time or a lengthy duration. This can undermine their trust and feelings of security. Though it may be a bit difficult emotionally, be sure to show your child love as you leave and let them know that you look forward to your return. This will allow them to process your departure in a healthy manner.
2. Provide a Tangible Way to Mark Time
A great strategy for preparing your kids to cope with your absence when you are traveling, and to help them develop patience until you get home, is to provide them with a tangible way to mark the time. Depending on your child’s age and/or development, you can create a calendar of days for them to check off, remind them of how many “sleeps” they have left until you get back, or create a number count-down to zero (the day/time you will be home). There are many clever ways to indicate the passage of time so that your child understands that your return date is getting closer.
Of course, if your travel is open-ended you may have greater difficulty in tangibly marking when you will be home again. In this case, you can encourage your child to draw a picture or write a short note each day and then you can enjoy looking at them together when your travels are done.
3. Confidently Reassure Their Safety and Well-Being
Kids tend to worry about things that are not within their control, which can result in stress when one or both parents must travel without them. To minimize any fears or concerns, parents should confidently reassure their children’s safety and well-being while they are gone.
Whether your child is staying home with just one parent, at a family member’s house, or with another caregiver, be sure to directly let them know that they will be safe and have their needs met while you are away. Let your child ask questions about any changes to their routine, what to expect, and any other what-ifs they might have. Be honest in your responses and remind your child that things will go back to normal once you are done traveling. In the meantime, you can encourage them to enjoy and embrace the different circumstances.
4. Set Up a Minimal Communication Plan
Hearing from you while you’re traveling without them will bring comfort to your kids. However, depending on the reason for your trip and its schedule, you need to be realistic about how often you’ll be able to communicate with your children at home. This way, you won’t make any promises that you can’t keep due to time zone delays, unexpected interferences, etc.
The best strategy is to set up a minimal communication plan that you can easily commit to while you are away. For example, you may promise your kids a morning text and an evening phone call as a way of connecting and communicating. If you are able to reach out more often, that will be a bonus. No matter what communication schedule you set up, be sure it’s realistic and that you follow through with the commitment.
Here are some ways you can stay in touch with your kids as you are traveling:
- Phone call
- Texting (if age-appropriate)
- Sending photos or videos
- FaceTime, Skype, or other video-chat platforms
- Mailing a postcard or letter
5. Encourage Expressions of Feelings
Traveling without your kids can be an emotional experience for everyone. It’s important to encourage your children to express their feelings to reduce any confusion or resentment, and to address any questions or concerns that they have. Make sure that you validate the feelings that your kids express, whether it’s sadness, worry, frustration, or something else, by letting them know you understand. However, it’s also essential to reassure your children that their feelings are temporary and that things will return to normal.
In addition, you can model healthy emotional expression for your children by letting them know your own feelings about being away. Of course, you don’t want to frighten or overwhelm your kids by telling them that you are scared to travel or that you can’t handle being without them. Instead, it’s best to let them know that you will miss them and be thinking about them. Let your kids know that you will feel a little sad to be away, but that you are very excited to come back and give them a hug.
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Our products allow children to express themselves as growing individuals as well as members of larger groups such as their family, culture, etc. It’s more important than ever for families to connect and learn with each other, together and apart, in addition to creating lasting memories by prioritizing excellent options for screen-free fun, healthy cognitive development, creativity, and expression.