When I was in high school, my dad worked out of state. It was hard to not see one parents for days or even weeks at a time and now my youngest sister is going through it. I didn't ever think I would need to take business trips, but time and time again I find myself kissing my babies good bye and hopping on a plan to somewhere. Over the past few years we have found a rhythm with my trips and my dad with my youngest sister, to keep us connected and a part of each other's lives even when we are so far away. These have all help us immensely.
Daily Phone Calls. We always make sure to touch base, even if we only have a minute. I always talk to my daughter and ask how school went. Often she wants a lullaby right before bed and so my husband will call me and I will sing it to her right on the phone. I once sang a lullaby to her in the middle of a penthouse party at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, I got some good natured ribbing for that one, but my daughter knew she was loved.
Surprises and Cards. Often when I am gone I will leave a note a day for my daughter to find. Some have little surprises like stickers or dollar store toys. She has to call me every morning and tell me about her dreams to get hint on where the next one is hiding.
Videos- My daughter and I LOVE to send each other silly videos the whole time I am gone. It makes us each laugh and it helps us occupy our time. We love the lip sync videos.
Make a separation journal. We have a journal that I leave at home when I am gone. My daughter writes her thoughts and feelings in it every day and then when I get back I write back to her. We keep it going even when I am home and it helps me know what is going on in her life.
Share photos. I share photos of where I am and what I am doing with my child and she sends me back pictures too. She sends pictures of her homework, pictures of silly faces and pictures of her sister. It really helps us feel connected. Sometimes I send the pictures to her dad's phone but we also set her up with her own iPod that can get messages as long as it is connected to Wi-fi.
Countdown Frame. This craft is SO easy to make and helps a lot with my girls being sad when I am gone.
You will need:
- A frame with glass
- cute scrapbook paper
- black vinyl
- a craft cutter
- a whiteboard marker
Put the scrapbook paper in the frame. The easiest way to do this is to be a document frame, AKA a 8.5x11 frame so you don't have to trim the paper to size. If you use a different kind of frame, just trim you paper to the size of your frame. I found a cute frame with three openings at my local dollar store. I put scrapbook paper in the large section and used the two smaller sections to put a picture of me with each of my girls.
Cut the black vinyl using your craft cutter or you could even use letter stickers if you don't have access to a craft cutter. The words you will need are "days until my dad (mom) gets home." Add the vinyl to the bottom portion of the glass, leaving room to write with a whiteboard marker on the top. That way, every day you child can wipe off the number of days and write the new number with a white board marker.
CloudPets. We just found these stuffed animals and we are THRILLED with them. CloudPets really make staying close to your kids when you are far away easy and fun. You can record messages to your child using the CloudPet App and then sent them to their CloudPet. The CloudPet will blink when it has a new message and they can press the hand of their stuffed animal to hear the new message. They can also send messages back. You should have seen the look on my daughter's face when I sent her lullaby straight to her CloudPet. She listened to it over and over again. She loved that my voice could be with her even when I couldn't be.
I love that it is more fun that just an App, it is a sweet stuffed animal for them to hug when they are missing you. There is a bear, a kitty, a puppy and a bunny. If you shop at Walmart, like I did, you can buy the Walmart exclusive unicorn. I found my CloudPet on a pallet near the front of the store that add the three AAA batteries I needed for the pet right by it.
When I first told my husband about these new stuffed animals, he was a little worried. Could strange people send messages to our child's pet? Since the CloudPet is hooked up to an app, you have complete control over it. All messages must be approved by the parent before they go to the stuffed animal. You can learn more about how it works here.
How would you use a CloudPet to stay close to loved ones? Would you sent it to your grandkids? Your nieces and nephews? What about using one to help your kids get through a parent's deployment? The possibilities are endless.