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Growing Together When You're Apart

When you have to go out of town without your kids, here's how to make the separation a positive experience for you and your kids.

Any time parents have to leave their children—whether for work or for a vacation—the whole family can get stressed out. These ideas can help make your time apart a positive experience for you and your children.

Put it in writing. Children love to get their own mail. If you're going to be away for a week or more, make a point of sending a postcard or a short note to your child. If your trip is shorter, make a fun mini-journal of your trip. Simply collect postcards for your child, write a short note on one of them each day, and give them to your child when you get home. Your child will love to see where you've been and your postcards will help spark conversations about your trip.

Hide a note. Place a special card under your child's pillow on the day you leave. This will give your child something special to look forward to even as she says goodbye.

Share your memories. Even destinations that don't seem very exciting to you can be fascinating to a child. Collect brochures, maps, and postcards from each place you stay. When you get home, spend some time with your child putting these items in a special scrapbook which holds mementos from each of your trips. My father did this with me and our scrapbook has become a treasured keepsake.

Mark the day. Create a special calendar using pictures, stickers, or color-coded markers to show the day you'll be leaving, the days you'll be gone, and the day you'll be home. This will help your child prepare for your trip and remind her that your absence is temporary.

Take some love with you. Before you leave, ask your child to write a note or draw a picture for you to pack in your suitcase. Giving you something special will give her a sense of involvement in your activities and experiences away from home. It's also a good cure for homesick moms and dads!

—Roberta McClelland


Fall 2002, Vol. 15, No. 1, Page 16

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