Ways to stay connected with your children while you travel.
Road Warriors and Road Zenas know that leaving the family behind can takes it toll, both on business travelers and the loved ones left at home. Here are some of my favorite tips to keep parents connected with the family while they're working away from home:
Before You Go
1. Leave a message for your child taped to the milk container, in their lunch box, or any place they are likely to come upon it. Tell them that you can't wait to do the favorite activity you enjoy together when you return home. If they're too young to read, an older sibling, babysitter or dad can help them out.
2. Cook some doubles before you go, so your kids can have some of their favorite foods. Dad's takeout food is exciting for a few days, but mom's macaroni and cheese or homemade soup is sure to hit the spot.
3. Before you leave, show your older children a map of where you will be. They will feel more secure knowing where you are. You can also leave an itinerary so they can follow your trip, and see how soon you will be coming home.
4. Ask your kids to draw or take pictures of what went on in your absence, especially if you miss a soccer game, dance recital or a fun family excursion. Collect these in an album and take it on your travels to remind yourself how well the family does in your absence.
While You're Away
5. Send your child picture postcards from your hotel and/or from famous landmarks so he can picture where you are. If you get home before the postcard, even better!
6. Try to call each evening and say goodnight or, if you're in a different time zone, leave a message for your family. We find that using a local phone card, particularly in Europe, is much cheaper than dialing with a U.S. calling card and it makes a colorful souvenir. Preschoolers will appreciate your recording a favorite story on tape, the phone machine, or even on a cellphone so they can listen to it at day's end.
7. Bring home the used hotel toiletries. Children love mini-things and will enjoy playing with those little shampoo, shower gel (makes great bubble bath) and lotion bottles when they're empty. We always save the plastic shower caps to wrap soiled shoes and damp bathing suits on our next trip.
8. Always try to bring home a souvenir of a famous site, landmark or a taste of the culture where you were — items easily bought in an airport gift shop. When you present it, you'll have a chance to talk about returning there as a family.
When You Return
9. If possible, try to have someone bring your kids to the airport to greet you when you arrive. Anticipating your return will lead to an exciting reunion.
10. Upon your return, make sure to spend time re-connecting. Your phone calls can be answered later, and your laundry can wait one more day. Give the kids lots of attention and listen to all their stories and complaints about what happened while you were gone.
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