Parents that travel frequently for their jobs, such as those deployed in the military or long-distance truckers, must pay special attention to the relationship they have with their children. Children whose parents are gone for long periods of time may experience some of the same emotional or behavioral disturbances as children who are going through a divorce. Here are tips to help your children cope with the long-distance relationship caused by occupational travel.
1. Call Frequently
Consider giving small children a child-friendly cell phone that they can use to call mommy or daddy whenever they wish. Even if you’re too busy to take their call, hearing your voice on voicemail and being able to leave you a message can be enough. Having their own special phone can give them a sense of relief, knowing they can always punch a number and talk to you. Along the same lines, make sure to call your children frequently; whether it’s on the family’s phone or your child’s “special” phone.
There are many things you can do over a Skype video connection. Watch a favorite movie together, play a board game together or even read a book to your child before bed. Skype is a fantastic, free way to stay in touch. If you don’t have a laptop that you can take on the road with you, download the Skype for Mobile app and use your smartphone to video chat with your children.
3. Send Mail
Children of all ages love getting mail, but especially small children. Try to send home a postcard or two a week for your kids. Find a card that has a picture of your current location on the front or a photo of a local attraction. Describe your location in your note so that your children have a better sense of where you are. Ask your child to keep these in a shoebox or scrapbook and sit down with them, when you get home, and tell them about your trip, using the cards as cues.
4. Take a Friend
If you have small children, ask them if you can take a doll or action figure of theirs on the road with you. Take a photo of the toy at each stop along your way and send them home over WiFi or through text message. Your children will look forward to the photos each day and will feel as though they are with you in a way. If you’re creative, come up with a story to go along with the picture. This is not only fun for your kids, but a great way to take your mind off of work for a little while.
5. Mark the Time
Find a creative way to mark the time so your children know can visually see when you will be home. Put a corresponding number of jelly beans in a jar, allowing your children to eat one every day; this will serve as a yummy countdown: when the jar is empty, you’ll be home. Younger children don’t understand the days on the calendar; come up with a unique way to allow them to keep track of your time away.
If you travel frequently for your job, your relationship with your children doesn’t need to suffer. Come up with creative ways to stay in touch and in your children’s lives. Not only will your children cope better but you’ll feel less lonely as well.
Author Casey Stevens is a long-distance trucker who writes for truckertotrucker.com, a site featuring all types of Trucks For Sale. The choices include many types of trucks -- from a box truck to a mack truck, as well as dump trucks and flatbed trailers.