Traveling for work is often a necessary evil for busy working dads. Here’s one dad’s experience and advice for staying connected with family while on business trips.
Staying Connected When Traveling for Work
A Guest Post by Jason Swann, who blogs as The Cheeky Daddy
It begins with dinner, moves to bath and jammy time, eases into books and stories, then ends with hugs and kisses. Simple, yes?
I’ve seen cowboys break a mustang before and THAT looked easier than building our homestead customs. People, our children have let us know that they need routine, stability, and for heaven’s sake, DON’T forget that story! It runs like clockwork and I say again, one tilt in the balance of our family ecosystem and we’re either up throughout the night with little ones, or it all ends in tears.
So when I announce that there’s a trip of any significant length coming up, the groans begin. First, The Wife expresses her reservations, then her fears, then her acceptance. Once the kids get wind of it, there’s even more complaint, but in the form of a sweet siren’s song of “daddy, don’t go.” Heart strings are pulled, emotions run high, and I begin to wonder if I might be able to support my family as a man of leisure. You know, a man’s man, or man about town. No? Bah,…worth a try. It still begs the question: How does our family get by when daddy has to travel?
These days, we have every iDevice at our fingertips to text, talk, and video each other. Those unto themselves could make you the daddy that didn’t forget his offspring before bedtime. Me and the family have chatted via the video phone, and I can’t get them to stop making lame faces into the camera the ENTIRE time! It’s a start I guess.
Before I left for my most recent trip, I wrote a personal note to my two older kids on 3 x 5 cards and left them on the table in their respective spots as I left the house quite early in the morning. I was told they were a huge hit, and are an example of the little things you can do to ease the suffering of the minor afflicted. Bringing home some sort of gift or treat as a peace offering couldn’t hurt either.
The point is, dads, we are missed. A lot. A WHOLE lot. I read on a post recently that a dad has four girls that make him feel like a member of the Beatles when he gets home. We’re all rock stars to our children, and we can take care of our “fans” by taking a bit of care with how we leave them for our work trips. It will pay dividends in the end to pay attention to how we deal with being gone, as our little ones are dealing with us being gone.So I’ve looked around the web, read, asked, cajoled, and uncovered to find what we can do when we have to be away. The list is organic, so use or don’t, add to or take away.
- Don’t over do it, or under do it on the explanation. They need to know that you’ll be gone, but don’t freak them out about it.
- Leave some notes, in the open and hidden where they’ll find them later. I’ve done this with The Wife and my Wee ones and they LOVE it. (note: when Nick was 4, I went on a 2-week business trip. Before leaving, I bought 14 little toys at the dollar bin at the local toy store and had my wife hide one each day for Nick’s “daddy toy” It went over great!- SB)
- Use the technology you have. Skype, FaceTime, MMS pics, text, and so on. I was at training for two weeks and created a blog, just to upload videos I made for the home team. You can get to the mini bar later.
- Ask for a project to be done when you return. A drawing, craft piece, marble statue, or whatever. They’ll put their all into it, just waiting for you to go nuts over it when you get back.
- For heaven’s sake, don’t forget to bring them something home. We all remember wanting that small token that said we were missed. It can be small and cheap. Just don’t forget it.
You can also do other little things, like leave a pic of you and kid(s) where they’ll see it, leave some cologne on one of their stuffed animals, keep up on routine stuff over the phone at bedtime, take one of the child’s toys and put it in pics on the trip to send each day, etc. You can get creative, I know you can. You just need to try. They’ll remember it. Good luck!
Thanks, Jason. That’s a great story and some useful advice!
Do you have any experiences to share? What do you do that works for you and your family? Let’s discuss in the comments section.